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Joining the Inner City Music Board

June 22nd, 2016 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Julian Curnuck

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I’m delighted to have joined the board of Inner City Music - the charity that owns and operates Manchester’s Band on the Wall.

It’s a common theme at Urban Splash and many of my colleagues donate their time to endeavours like this, an important thing to do in our committment to the towns and cities we work in. Inner City aims to enrich peoples’ lives with music and culture so it’s completely in sync with my day job.

The main focus of my new role will  be helping the team behind Band on the Wall as they aim to increase its capacity to 500 people. I’m excited to be a part of that growth.

Filed under: Urban Splash

Contribute to the Urban Splash blog. Email blog@urbansplash.co.uk

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We are very excited that the massive CIH Housing Conference is coming to Manchester and I am pleased to be speaking at the conference too!

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To coincide with it on 30th June, we’re inviting CIH delegates to take a trip to nearby New Islington to come and see our modular hoUSe development; we’re labelling it as ‘Open hoUSe’. It will give delegates the chance to come and see the concept up close; touching and feeling the show hoUSe and seeing the wider regeneration around New Islington.

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We’re offering a shuttle bus to New Islington on the hour every hour from Manchester Central; so either just turn up or email Chris Monkman for an appointment. Or, if you’d like to meet for a coffee at any point during the conference, please email Cathy Cunny who looks after my diary.

Our 2-minute film with George Clarke explaining the concept should whet your appetites until then and you can read more details about the concept here.

Filed under: New Islington, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash, hoUSe

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Read about our ‘pioneering housing concept’

May 30th, 2016 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE

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It’s been great reading about hoUSe in the national press recently. Our modular, family housing concept was covered in depth by The Telegraph and The Sunday Times recently, with the former calling it ‘a pioneering housing concept’.

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Meanwhile, the Sunday Times, who referred to Urban Splash as ‘the developer that rescued decaying mills and warehouses’, visited the first hoUSe site in New Islington, interviewing a purchaser and concluding that hoUSe aims to  ‘turn buyers from passive consumers into architects of their own dream homes.’

Read the full Sunday Times article below…

Bespoke new builds on a budget

Urban Splash is the developer that rescued decaying mills and warehouses, pioneered “loft living” in Britain and transformed industrial wastelands into inner-city property hotspots. Now the Manchester-based firm has a revolutionary plan for the traditional family home — reinventing the Victorian terrace, building it in a factory and allowing buyers to play an active role in the design process.

Described as “the Grand Designs experience on a budget”, Urban Splash’s latest venture — “hoUSe” — aims to turn buyers from passive consumers into the architects of their own dream homes. Whereas owners of period terraces tend to move in and start knocking down walls to suit their needs, hoUSe will allow buyers to configure their home around their lifestyle while it’s still on the drawing board.

Each one will be built and assembled in a factory near Nottingham by Insulshell,
a company that specialises in timber panel construction, then assembled on site. The whole process takes about four months — compared to six for conventional bricks and mortar.

“Loads of things we buy now are bespoke — everything from cars to trainers,” says Jonathan Falkingham, co-founder and creative director of Urban Splash. “I compare hoUSe with buying a BMW. You specify what you want, then, a couple of months later, it comes off the production line.”

HoUSe buyers can opt for two or three storeys, and can choose to have a garden home (with the living spaces on the ground floor) or a loft (with a living space on the top floor, under an exposed pitched roof). They can decide to go fully open-plan or have more traditional segregated rooms, including up to five bedrooms.

There are various configurations of kitchens, bathrooms, storage, floor coverings and furnishings. And, because the walls are made from wooden panels (covered in a range of protective materials, including magnesia board, sealant and insulation), and those dividing rooms are not supporting walls, owners can easily add rooms as their family expands, or remove them when their offspring move out. In collaboration with architects at Shedkm, Urban Splash has taken pains to keep ceilings lofty and windows large, with pop-out windows — a modern, square version of a bay — on the top floor. The company also offers 1,000 sq ft of living space (or 1,500 sq ft for a three-storey home), compared with the typical 800 sq ft for new-builds.

“We think builders are way behind the curve, because nothing has really changed for 50 years,” Falkingham says. The architect founded Urban Splash with Tom Bloxham, an entrepreneur, in 1993, winning a string of Riba awards before almost going out of business when the housing market collapsed in 2008.

“The recession gave us pause for reflection,” he says. “What we saw was that if you’ve got a lot of money and you want a lovely house, you haven’t got a problem. It’s at the other end of the market where there isn’t much choice. There’s no flexibility, poor specification and a fixation on rooms, not space.”

Prices, inevitably, will depend on location, but the first hoUSe scheme is being built in New Islington, an area just north of Manchester’s city centre that has seen intense regeneration in the past decade. Prices start at £200,000 for a two-storey home, including a garden and parking, and about £300,000 for a three-storey house. So far, 14 of the latter have been completed — and all 43 properties in the development have been sold.

Planning permission has just been granted for a further 34 units at Smith’s Dock, in North Shields, on Tyneside, as well as 72 homes at Irwell Riverside, in Salford. Prices for those developments will be released later this year.

Andy Smith, 29, is just the sort of savvy buyer Urban Splash had in mind when it began working on hoUSe. The fresh-faced entrepreneur moved into his property in New Islington at the beginning of the year and has been busy adapting it to his needs, adding an ensuite wet room alongside his bedroom/office on the third storey.

“I like the size and the fact that you can do what you want with it,” says Smith, founder of From the Fields, the events company behind music festivals such as Kendal Calling and Forgotten Fields. “I looked at older properties, but I couldn’t find anything in my budget — or, if I did, there was a problem with subsidence or something. And there wasn’t the space.”

Smith agrees that there is a gap in the market for people like him, who would like their own home, but aren’t ready to sacrifice their lively urban lifestyle for a conventional suburban new-build. With the assistance of the government’s Help to Buy scheme for first-time purchasers, he could afford the £305,000 asking price. He even had the odd experience of watching his hoUSe being delivered.

“It was amazing,” he recalls. “I happened to be walking past, and I saw the bottom storey being put in position. I popped to a coffee shop, then, on the way back, the whole thing was there.”

It’s tempting to make disparaging comparisons with Ikea flatpacks, but Urban Splash insists that this is to misunderstand the process. “People already make houses like this, but on site,” Falkingham says. “We’re not doing anything radical in that sense — it’s established technology. We’re just building it in a factory. And the production standards are much, much higher than on a site.”

Rather than the Swedish purveyor of flatpack furniture, Urban Splash prefers comparisons with Vitra, a Swiss firm that manufactures works by many internationally renowned furniture designers. It’s all part of a long-term vision to become “a sort of designer brand of housebuilding”. For its next “product”, called Mansion House, the company plans to take the Georgian terrace and adapt it for modern living.

“We started out with this really simple proposition — to make well-designed, affordable housing,” Falkingham says. “I don’t think we’re trying to upset the apple cart. We just want to offer something different, because we think there is a demand for it.”

Filed under: Manchester, New Islington, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash, hoUSe

Contribute to the Urban Splash blog. Email blog@urbansplash.co.uk

Our award winning Good Food Market

May 26th, 2016 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Emily Handslip

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Royal William Yard’s Good Food Market has won another award, having scooped the Gold award for Best Farmers Market at the Taste of the West Food Awards!

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The Market has been so well received since it started last year; now more than 50 stalls set up on the first Sunday of each month offering everything from fresh, local produce to crafts, to live cookery demonstrations to children’s entertainment! Judges visited one of the markets earlier this year and liked what they saw.

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The award, the second the Yard’s Good Food Market has won, shows the tremendous work put on by the team there and the stall holders themselves. Let’s keep making it even bigger and better!

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Filed under: Royal William Yard, Urban Splash

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On 7th May we’ll be launching new homes for sale at Irwell Riverside and we’ll be launching a new show hoUSe for customers at nearby New Islington on the same day too.

First up for sale at Irwell Riverside are our hoUSes - each of which come with parking and gardens - with prices from £250,000 for a 1,000 sq ft home. They’ll soon be followed by apartments, with a total of 171 homes created by Urban Splash on the waterfront site by 2017.

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Although Irwell Riverside officially sits in Salford, hoUSes here are less than half a mile away from Harvey Nics and other key areas of Manchester City Centre.

We’ve focused on bringing hoUSe to sites like Irwell Riverside, as city centre housing is an important issue for us. hoUSe gives families a spacious, urban living option, and giving customers who simply want more space, something other than a typical apartment.

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We’ve already sold out at New Islington - another city centre fringe site to the North East of Manchester - so the appeal’s been appreciated so far.

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If you want to find out more, or come and see what hoUSe looks like by visiting our new New Islington show hoUSe which is located at 2 Keepers Quay, Manchester, M4 6JL (click here for a map), then register now or drop us a line.

Filed under: New Islington, Urban Splash

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Launching hoUSe

April 14th, 2016 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE

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It’s been great to see hoUSe getting so much coverage recently.

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Lots of journalists, from around the country have been writing about the concept; Wallpaper* for example  noted the hoUSes are “no diminutive Victorian pastiche…”.

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Meanwhile, fellow design and architecture critics Dezeen who called the scheme “a pioneering housing project”.

The press in Manchester meanwhile - home to the first hoUSes at New Islington - were equally as complementary; About MCR noting the: “innovative design template” and I Love MCR suggesting they are for “house-proud, design-conscious people“.  The Sunday Times also included New Islington and hoUSe one of the 20 ‘hippest places to live‘ in the UK!

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Read all of the hoUSe press coverage here and register your interest for more houses that we’re bringing to New Islington, Irwell Riverside in Salford and Smith’s Dock in North Shields soon…

Filed under: New Islington, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash

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Completing Park Hill Phase 1… And starting Phase 2

March 11th, 2016 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Jonathan Falkingham MBE

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Watch this video and find out about the exciting selection process we’ve undertaken to select a new architect for Phase 2 at Park Hill. Working with the chosen practice, Mikhail Riches, we’ll be creating up to 200 new homes and 30,000 sq ft of commercial space.

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The announcement came in tandem with the news that we have completed Phase 1 at Park Hill too. Read more in the Architects Journal.

Filed under: Park Hill, Sheffield, Urban Splash

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Giving Park Hill a ‘new lease of life’

March 2nd, 2016 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Simon Gawthorpe

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I had a big grin on my face when I read this article in the Yorkshire Post. It makes lots of great references to the work Urban Splash and our partners have done at Park Hill.

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The writer, who visited site last week, talks of ’spectacular views’ and how Park Hill’s reputation of old was ‘consigned to the dustbin of history’.

We’ve now completed the first phase and 260 homes, and it really makes me proud to see what’s been achieved. Park Hill being given a ‘new lease of life’ was an impossible task in many people’s eyes and we’ve not only achieved what we set out to do in creating homes, but we’ve created workspaces, a nursery, an art gallery and crucially somewhere the city keeps wanting to use for events (last summer’s Sheffield Design Week launch and Peddler St Food Festival for example). It’s a community now.

Read the full article here and watch this space for Park Hill phase 2 announcements…

Filed under: Park Hill, Urban Splash

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Read my latest interview with Cheshire Magazine, in which I talk about being in business, our plans for hoUSe and my hats..!

The full article features on page 34.

Filed under: Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash, hoUSe

Contribute to the Urban Splash blog. Email blog@urbansplash.co.uk

A whole lot of history

February 3rd, 2016 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Emily Handslip

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Take a look at this beautiful gallery of historical images from Royal William Yard.

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Local Plymouth paper the Western Morning News recently featured the images; a fantastic archive of the hive of activity that preceded the new buzzing atmosphere we have here today

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Do you have any old memories of the Yard you can share? Let us know in the comments below…

Filed under: Mills Bakery, Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Transformation: Our Book, Urban Splash

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