WHEN Robert Houlton-Hart started handling commercial property in Bury St Edmunds, Moreton Hall had only two businesses.
As he looks forward to retiring as a consultant with Barker Storey Matthews, in Kempson Way, next week he believes the town will continue to go from strength to strength as it carries on attracting companies.
Mr Houlton-Hart began his career in Colchester in 1970 and qualified as a chartered surveyor in 1974. He joined Lacey Scott in Bury in 1977, when Moreton Hall was home only to British Gas and Tim Brinton’s car showroom.
He became an associate partner in 1982 and joined Prudential Commercial Properties as a local director in 1986. He moved to what became Barker Storey Matthews in 1990.
He has been chairman of the Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce and of the town’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau, as well as being ward councillor for Risbygate from 1983 to 1987.
He recalls that when he came to Bury it was towards the end of the London ‘overspill’ plan, so a lot of the current commercial estates were up and running, but there was still undeveloped industrial land.
What brought the companies in? Mr Houlton-Hart said: “A lot of it was managing directors living here or close by, but a lot of them were local companies expanding, like Denny Brothers and Glasswells.
“The quality of life here is good and a lot of people chose Bury for their East Anglia hub because it’s half an hour from Ipswich and Cambridge and not that far from London. The A14 certainly helped and it is a nice place to live with good schools and a good hospital.
“The town is still very strong and will go from strength to strength.”
Though he is retiring, he plans to remain part of the town’s business life because he is still a director of the chamber of commerce and a of Suffolk’s enterprise agency Menta.
Barker Storey Matthews has announced the appointment of Simon Burton as a director. He has been with the firm seven years and will be dealing with the agency side of the business assisted by Steven Mudd.