A SCIENCE organisation which helps farmers in developing countries has picked up the keys to its new green HQ from a housing developer.

CABI, an international not-for-profit science organisation, will soon move into its new HQ building just outside Wallingford.

The organisation was previously based in buildings which were formerly part of Carmel College, a Jewish boarding school.

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However, housing developer Cala Homes offered CABI money to buy the site to build houses.

Now CABI has used that money to build a new state-of-the-art office and Cala Homes has started constructing the 91-home Carmel Meadows development.

The move to the new HQ means the 1960s school will be demolished to allow the housing developer to complete the building of 54 more homes, in addition to the 37 already constructed, at the site off Nosworthy Way.

Oxford Mail:

The old CABI headquarters were originally opened in September 1987 by the Prince of Wales, but the building became outdated and was not energy efficient.

The new headquarters will be more environmentally friendly and efficient.

It features solar panels, sedum plants growing on the roof and a 'curtain wall' to give natural ventilation.

Rooflights also provide natural light to help reduce demand for electric lighting and help lower CO2 emissions.

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Staff will be able to move into the new environmentally sustainable headquarters in August following a delay in construction caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

CABI CEO Dr Trevor Nicholls said: “This really is the symbolic end of an ‘era’ and the start of a new beginning for CABI in a headquarters which is more aligned to its mission of helping to solve problems in agriculture and the environment – particularly in respect of its eco-friendly credentials.

“The development also demonstrates how a not-for-profit organisation, a major employer in Wallingford, can work in partnership with a developer in the housing sector for the wider benefit of the local community and town.”

Oxford Mail:

CABI was originally refused planning permission for the housing in 2016 as the council said it would be an overdevelopment in open countryside in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Both CABI and CALA Homes have been planting cypress trees, native hedgerows, low shrubs, ornamental plantings, perennial flowers and a meadow to attract a range of insects and birds.

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Gavin Stewart, sales and marketing director for CALA Homes Chiltern, said: “This is a significant development for Wallingford and South Oxfordshire, both in terms of the provision of much-needed new homes and the retention of a globally-renowned organisation in the UK.

“We’re delighted that the handing over of the keys to CABI’s former headquarters is allowing for more work to get underway and that the joint vision that both organisations have had for this site is now becoming a reality.”