I recently joined Evan Davies (he of Dragon’s Den and BBC business fame), Geeta Nanda OBE of Thames Valley Housing and Josh Ryan Collins from the New Economics Foundation on a Radio 4 debate on housing - entitled ‘land, the mother of all monopolies’.


Apparently, I was the only developer prepared (or stupid enough!) to talk about the economics of land supply and development. Hopefully, I argued that property development was not just about buying land and waiting for the cash to roll in, but about how developers have to find the land, get the planning, fund the build, get it built on time and on budget, make the place, and ultimtely sell or rent out the properties. Success only comes about by working closely with local communities and authorities and I talked through examples of how we’ve done this previously at the Northern Quarter in Manchester, and New Islington where we’ve helped create a new park, a marina, a health centre, and a new OFSTED outstanding primary school - transforming one of the worst parts of Manchester into what is now one of the best.


When host Evan gave me the ‘last word’, it allowed me to outline my vision for changing the market; I suggested that every local authority needs to appoint a city or town architect who will be well resourced, highly regarded and plan and define the vision of what their city wants to be, helping turn land into beautiful places in which we all want to live, work and play.


Listen to the full programme here and let us know what you think.

Filed under: Affordable homes, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash, hoUSe No comments

Building houses people can ‘have a future in’

January 11th, 2016 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE


I listened with great interest over the weekend to the Prime Minister’s plans to release a £140m funding package which will help community groups, councils, housing associations and developers turn around some of the country’s worst council estates.

It’s a welcome initiative and something I’m fully in support of however the Government needs to ensure that each geographical area - even each former council estate - is looked at carefully and that the right solution is created for each.

It’s something we’ve done a lot of in the last 20 years, and you come to realise what’s appropriate and what will work. We’ve been working for example at New Islington in Manchester for more than a decade; it used to be known as the Cardroom Estate and was a notoriously deprived area of the city. Demolition of the existing homes was definitely the best way forward as it paved the way for us, Manchester City Council and other developers to create a new masterplan and ultimately contemporarily appropriate housing solutions as well as workspaces, a health centre, a park, a marina and a school.


In the case of buildings like Park Hill in Sheffield - we had a contrasting view. Back in the sixties, the vast building of 1000 flats housed hundreds of families and was regarded as an urban utopia. There was no doubt in our mind that retention and restoration was definitely the best way forward and we’ve already converted almost 300 homes there for modern buyers and tenants. We did the same at 3Towers on the outskirts of Manchester - the three buildings there were retrievable and hundreds of people live there.


This programme is a good start but there’s still much more that needs to be done if we’re to make full viable and sustainable use of the country’s most rundown housing blocks - £140m will not go very far between 100 estates!

Filed under: 3 Towers, Affordable homes, Manchester, New Islington, Park Hill, Sheffield, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash No comments

Grand Designs on our hoUSe

November 27th, 2014 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE

Grand Designs Magazine

Great to see our very own grand idea hoUSe featured in this months Grand Designs Magazine;  our tailor made solution to a daunting self build project.

‘The revolutionary developer has teamed up with award-winning architect shedkm to launch its bespoke house-building service called hoUSe. You choose the size, number of rooms, number of storeys and the layout for your terraced house and it takes care of the rest.’

Want to live in our hoUSe? Here’s one we made earlier…


Filed under: Affordable homes, Manchester, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash No comments

‘’Beside the lake, beneath the trees…”

November 27th, 2014 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE


…Why not move to Lakeshore?

“We want to live close to the water and new developments are enabling us to live out this romantic dream,” says Carol Lewis,
The Times, Bricks & Mortar

Lakeshore featured in a showcase of the best lakeside developments in the South West recently.

‘There can be few things more calming than sitting on the shore of a tranquil lake. We seem to know innately that still waters have a deeply soothing effect, with people drawn by water to live, work & play. While our attraction to fresh water was once practical, today it is also aesthetic - with developments of new homes built around lakes able to command a premium.’

We still have homes available for sale & rent in our transformed Grade II Listed former Imperial Tobacco Factory to suit any budget

Check out November’s home of the month 140 Lakeshore available from just £97,500 through Shared Ownership


Filed under: Affordable homes, Bristol, Lakeshore, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash No comments

2012: A round up of the year

December 19th, 2012 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE

Another year of hard work has come to an end… Here’s a run through of some of the things we’ve been upto this year!


Lakeshore, our first Bristol scheme, is now home to residents. The Grade II listed Cor-Ten structure has been refurbished into design-led apartment available to buy and rent. With strong sustainable credentials, the scheme recently won a What House? Award for Sustainable Development.


Human, an exciting Sheffield-based creative agency, has become the first commercial tenants to sign up for space at Park Hill. They’ll open their new office there in the new year.


This year Royal William Yard came into its own; River Cottage, the Royal William Bakery, Seco Lounge and Le Vignoble are already open, with Las Iguanas, Wagamama, Bistrot Pierre and more signed up ready to open next year. With the monthly Good Food Market - another new addition for 2012 - the Yard has become Plymouth’s newest gourmet hotspot.


Winner of this year’s best conversion Northern Design Award, Saxton is a real success story and now home to hundreds of people who benefit from the location near Leeds city centre life, as well as the onsite allotment and gym!


We’re pretty proud of our trophy cabinet which was bolstered this year with 16 more awards!


It’s been a great year for new joint venture schemes including; Springfield Lane in Salford, Bewsey Old Hall in Warrington and Anston House in Brighton, watch this space for more details!


With the first tenants moving into Pattern House, we have now completed our Stalybridge scheme. With 100 apartments, Longlands also offers exciting commercial space right in the heart of Stalybridge, just a few minutes on the train from central Manchester.


The British Council of Offices Award judges decided that no one could ‘tame the Birmingham Beast‘, praising our transformation of a neglected monolith into a thriving commercial hub. They gave a special mention to our ability to emphasise the building’s industrial past.


Our flexible approach as a landlord, with short form leases, monthly licenses and a great rapport with tenants, has helped us grow the commercial portfolio even more this year; with 90% of our 2 million sq ft of office, retail, leisure and light industrial space now let.


Yep, among our 16 awards in 2012 were FOUR coveted Sunday Times British Homes Awards including a commendation for the Best Developer Award! Three other awards went to Lakeshore, Saxton and Park Hill.


We’ve transferred the success of the commercial portfolio to the residential side of the business too. 95% of homes are let and this year we grew it to more than 700 homes.


One of the most notable successes of the commercial portfolio is Fort Dunlop which is now 96% let and home to a great mix of tenants including Trinity Mirror and Elmfield.

Here’s looking forward to another great year!

Filed under: Affordable homes, Birmingham, Bristol, Chips, Fort Dunlop, Lakeshore, Leeds, Longlands, Manchester, Mills Bakery, New Islington, Park Hill, Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Saxton, Sheffield, Stalybridge, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash No comments

Get 5% towards your deposit on your new home

October 23rd, 2012 [ 2 comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Nicola Wallis

Pattern House, Longlands, Stalybridge

We’ve got a great offer on at the moment for anyone who is looking to buy their own home and can move in before Christmas.

If you reserve a home at one of these award winning schemes; Lakeshore in Bristol, Longlands in Stalybridge, Saxton in Leeds, Royal William Yard in Plymouth, Velvet Mill in Bradford and Chips and 3 Towers in Manchester, then we’ll give you 5% towards your deposit. The only criteria is that you must complete before Christmas; think about how fabulous it could be enjoying the festive season in your brand new home!

We’ve also got some fantastic show apartments at each of the schemes to help show you what your new home can look like.

It’s one of a number of things we’ve done recently to help our purchasers. We’ve also signed up a new panel of expert legal and financial advisers who are on hand to guide you through the buying process. Find out about our free mortgage workshops happening across the country.

Prices start at just £50,000 for a 50%, you just need to give us a call to find out more.

Filed under: Affordable homes 2 comments

2 comments to Get 5% towards your deposit on your new home

  1. Ella Wredenfors says:

    Hi Justin,
    Thanks for getting in touch. The 5% offer is available across the schemes listed above, which include lots of 2 bed apartments, if you complete your purchase before Christmas. The offer is available on shared ownership purchases, and the smallest share we currently offer is 25%. Drop an email to with more details about what you are looking for, and we can look into options to suit you.

  2. Justin maker says:

    Would you be able to confirm if the 5% offer is also available on your 2 bed flats for a 20-25% share?
    Kind regards
    Justin maker

Following on from their recent brochure shoot at our iconic Sheffield development Park Hill,’s Marketing & Communications Manager Toni is guest blogging for us this week. Find out what she has to say about investing in design.


When I was asked to guest blog for Urban Splash I was very honoured. I’ve admired their work for lovingly nurturing derelict and neglected buildings and bringing them back to life for a long time now.

Being born and bred in Sheffield I have a personal affinity with the Park Hill development. In fact my grandfather (on my Dad’s side) worked on the original build as a bricky in one of the ‘top teams’ and my grandparents (on my mother’s side) opened their very first hair salon in the Park Hill development in the 50s - which reminds me I really must hunt down the pictures!

So, you can see my routes are deep in Sheffield’s heritage and ‘love it or hate it’ I have a keen interest in preserving Europe’s largest grade II listed building. Anyway – I digress. I’m here to discuss the benefits of great furniture design so here goes!

We all know that times are hard right now and it can be all too easy to choose the cheaper option but please take a moment to pause and think.

There are many copies out there and these cheaper alternatives are made from poor quality materials that are much weaker, poorly executed and of inferior quality.

Check out this video showing the strength and durability of a real versus a fake Series 7 Chair – shocking isn’t it?

You may think you’ve found a bargain but it will be short lived. If you have a passion for design and you want to keep the item to pass down for generations to come, a copy is definitely not for you.

Authorised versions of design classics such as the Eames Lounge Chair are made by highly trained, dedicated craftsmen with the highest quality materials and will last a lifetime not just a few seasons. So, if you want to invest in design it may well be worth saving for.

Which leads me back to Park Hill…

You too can now invest in history and design and buy at Park Hill with the brand new shared ownership scheme. So, when your ready to take the plunge and that next big step to home ownership - remember to pause before buying your furniture and lighting and ask yourself ‘will it last?’.

Oh and by the way, if you’ve not guessed already… I love Park Hill!

Filed under: Affordable homes, Park Hill, Sheffield, Urban Splash No comments

Your invitation to join us at Longlands

August 2nd, 2012 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Nicola Wallis


Live at Longlands from £50,000*

Our team will be in Stalybridge this Thursday to host a mortgage workshop. And because we want to help you into home ownership, as an added incentive Urban Splash will contribute 5% towards your deposit if you reserve on the night!

We’re throwing open the doors and inviting you to come along and see the scheme, speak to our team, and meet our independent financial adviser who can tell you about the best mortgage options available to you.

With its balance of urban and suburban living, Longlands is a great scheme and we can’t wait to show you the great apartments we have remaining - not to mention the cracking views across the Peak District, the Huddersfield Canal and the River Tame. 

We’re also a stone’s throw from Stalybridge train station so you can reach us via that too - the train comes in direct from Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool so there’s no excuse to miss a great night! 

See you there from 5pm. 

Filed under: Affordable homes, Longlands, Stalybridge No comments

The housing crisis and renting

January 25th, 2011 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE

Chips, New Islington, Manchester

We have been having a housing crisis for years. The difference now is that there is a total lack of finance for new building, particularly for building in big centres like Manchester.

Far from cities having an oversupply of accommodation we are seeing huge and constant demand for the housing that is available and rather than a glut there’s a short fall and it’s not going to ease any time soon. Even if a major new building was to start tomorrow it would be three or four years before it came to market - and there is little sign of anyone starting tomorrow.

The lack of finance has crippled buyers as well as builders and maybe it’s time we reassessed how housing is provided in Britain.

Saxton, Leeds

Brits have a peculiar desire to own their own home but it’s an attitude that’s changing. It may have been borne out of necessity but for many people renting is now the preferred option and we should be doing more to accommodate that shift.

Increased mobility for work, the costs of moving, difficulty in securing finance, the freedom to quickly change accommodation costs if circumstances change are all making sense to a new generation and we have to respond.

The UK rental market has to become much more professional and better policed. Tenants have to know that the place they are renting will be permanently available and that the landlord won’t suddenly decide to sell up and buy a place in Spain.

Just because you can’t or don’t want to buy a place of your own does not mean you should not have a place of your own and we need to address that if we are to address the housing crisis.

At Urban Splash we currently have around 400 apartments to rent and we are looking to double that in the next two years. We want to build up a brand of homes that will be permanently for rent, managed in-house by us, and sprinkled through our developments.

Rotunda, Birmingham

There needs to be more institutional investment in residential development such as they have in most of the other European cities. People who like the idea of investing in property may not want to tie themselves to one individual apartment but would be happy to be part of a larger fund.

The yields may not be that huge at the moment but there is vast potential and the funds would create a new asset class, investing in the future housing infrastructure of the country, building high quality, well managed blocks to rent out.

It is time that the Government looked to giving tax breaks to companies and individuals prepared to invest in schemes like this. It helped before with the Business Expansion Scheme and it could be a way to re-invigorate the market again.

But unlike in the past homes for rent should not be second best or inferior. What separates Urban Splash from others is our ability to build great buildings (not one to brag but 300 awards at the last count) and the way we can transform areas such as Castlefield and New Islington.

In cash rich Monaco most people rent, in New York properties are only available to rent and in Europe renting is the norm. I see Britain going the same way but it needs a structural change to make it happen.

This first appeared as an opinion piece in M.E.N. Business Weekly on 19th January 2011.

Filed under: Affordable homes, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash No comments

Talking residents, not just residence at Saxton

June 8th, 2010 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Simon Gawthorpe


It’s a lovely Friday and the sun is shining on Saxton, Leeds. I’m on my way to a meeting in the city centre and I walk past a group of the existing tenants from Saxton Gardens making use of the seating area on The Avenue we have recently given a make over. While out enjoying a cup of tea and some neighbourly banter I discovered that I share my birthday with the chair of the Saxton Gardens TARA, John Boyd (I did of course on finding out offer up some of my birthday cake which seemed to go down particularly well with the tea!).

We are lucky enough to have a great relationship with the residents on the existing estate, we see them regularly when they pop in to the office to share some news or get an update, we socialise with them at a variety of different events we have held at Saxton or round at the club hosted by them, which are usually over a game of bingo, and not usually won by us!

On a more formal basis we have been attending their AGM for the past six years, the most recent of which was earlier this month. I always come away with a sense of pride in what are trying to do at Saxton and how we have worked and continue to work with John and his committee. The format this year was the same as every other and as always the existing committee were re-elected, and it’s no wonder when you see what a great job they do. Saxton Gardens is a real community, all the people know each other by name (and more than often than not by business too), they all look out for each other and pull together in times of need. The big snow this winter was an outstanding example of this. When a number of the elderly residents felt they were unable to leave their flats because of the icy conditions on the streets, the community rallied round and made sure that all of these people were checked in on daily, and regular group runs to the shops made sure no one went without the essentials.

Urban Splash have been very lucky to be welcomed into this community and even though we haven’t always been the best neighbours, after all we are a building site both noisy and dirty by nature, we still get on well. We haven’t spent our time here without the odd complaint or two, however working alongside John and his committee there hasn’t been a single issue over the years we haven’t been able to resolve amicably. That’s because we know and respect that the people who live here really care about the area and enjoy living here. The Boyd family alone have had at one point 20 members from 5 generations living throughout the estate. Perhaps that’s why it feels like a family, fully fitted with parent like figures making sure people keep the place tidy and pick up their litter after themselves. There is no real secret it’s just about being normal and respectful.


As we near the completion of the first building at Saxton, the number of new residents is growing daily and our first HomeBuy Direct* residents are due to move in within the month. The next challenge for us is to make sure our new residents become part of this community and share the same sense of pride and belonging in the place they live. I hope this relationship will grow, helped by a number of community events. When the allotments are ready for planting, they will also be available for both new and existing residents… we have a number of both on the waiting list already!

I think that Saxton is going to be a great place to live and one of the best in the city centre, we know the communal gardens are pretty unique within Leeds and will be a great asset for the residents and added to this our purchasers will be moving in to a ready made community. As one of the residents said to me a while ago, ‘We love this place, the majority of us have lived here for nearly 50 years and we take great pride in it and we certainly hope that the new residents will do the same, and they are more than welcome to come and have a game of snooker or bingo and a drink with us in the club’. Certainly not an offer I’m refusing!

Filed under: Affordable homes, Leeds, Saxton, Urban Splash No comments
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