A great new space at the Yard

April 19th, 2017 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Emily Handslip


We’ve made even more great spaces for our tenants in Plymouth by opening the new common areas at Residence Two, Royal William Yard.


The new spaces show how committed we are to creating commercial communities and this new space is all about bringing the Residence’s awesome mix of tenants together.


The new amenities include a meeting room with TV and presentation screen, communal wifi and a ‘snug’ for informal collaboration - with power points for laptops.  We’ve also installed a great new kitchen complete with coffee machine, smoothie machine and a blackboard wall for community messages to encourage a bit of fun and to help tenants take ownership of the space.


A new chill out area gives tenants and their teams the opportunity to get away from their desks - and it leads out to a beautiful garden with deckchairs and table tennis; we’ll soon be adding an outdoor meeting area and bike racks here too!

We made sure the new space was put on tenants’ radars with a bit of a launch party with more than 40 of the Yard’s occupiers in attendance; a local DJ manned the decks and local brewer Bulletproof provided the beer. Nice weather meant we all got to experience the garden too!

Just three workspaces remain at the Residence Two building; if you want to get involved and give your team access to the awesome new facilities we’ve added, then drop us a line.

Filed under: Mills Bakery, Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Urban Splash No comments

Children in Need at Royal William Yard

November 22nd, 2016 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Emily Handslip


The BBC hosted part of this year’s Children in Need from Royal William Yard, with thousands of visitors and residents joining us to make the evening a great success.

This year’s event saw a record final Children in Need total of £46m raised for great causes; at the Yard, Plymouth did it’s bit by hosting a spectacular evening with fire dancers, light jacket performers, stilt walkers, wall runners and aerial dancers Yskynna all performing for the cameras.


There was also a night market and projections within the Yard and Factory Cooperage put on by the University of Plymouth.


And not forgetting the arrival of VIP guest Pudsey by an offshore raiding craft driven by Royal Marines based at HMNB Devonport.


In total, events like this helped £1.8m of the total Children in Need efforts come from the South West region.

I’m really proud that we were able to play such a big part in this year’s Children in Need success story.

Filed under: Mills Bakery, Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Urban Splash No comments

Love for ladies’ day at Royal William Yard

July 6th, 2016 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Emily Handslip


We have so many events at Royal William Yard this summer; it’s a really exciting place to be.

This weekend, we’re celebrating the Wimbledon tennis finals with a ‘Ladies Day’ event at Royal William Yard. As well as showing tennis all week, the big screen on the lawn will be showing both the single and doubles finals for ladies day, with each guest receiving a glass of fizz from ID Fashion on arrival.

Our tenants are getting involved too; ID Fashion are giving the best dressed attendee a £50 voucher to spend in their store, plus a glass of fizz on arrival, while the Envy hair salon will give a £50 voucher to the best style they see on the day.

Other events coming up at the Yard include the Native Makers Market on 16th July, the next Good Food Market on 8th August, on while from 5th August, the Barbican Theatre’s performances of Romeo and Juliet!

Filed under: Mills Bakery, Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Urban Splash No comments

A whole lot of history

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


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


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


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 No comments

Feast your eyes on the Yard

May 16th, 2015 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Nathan Cornish

rwy-wildwood-blog2_sqWe’ll soon be welcoming another restaurant at Royal William Yard.

London-based pizza and pasta restaurant Wildwood has confirmed that it is going to join the likes of Prezzo, Seco, Wagamama, Las Iguanas, Le Vignoble and more in the Slaughterhouse building at the scheme.


It’s an exciting time at the Yard; just a couple of weeks ago,  the ferry service from the scheme restarted for the summer 2015 season and just a few weeks ago Visit Britain put the development in lights as part of a spectacular display which saw 18m high projections put onto the various buildings.


Keep checking the blog for details of the restaurant as it progresses, and if you’re a restauranteur or business owner looking to move to the scheme, contact in our commercial team for details of what’s available.

Filed under: Mills Bakery, Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Urban Splash No comments

Creating ‘fabulous environments’!

April 9th, 2015 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Nathan Cornish


I recently received a lovely email from a lady living in Plymouth who took the time to write to us and tell us what she thought about the work we’ve done at the city’s Royal William Yard.

Letters like these really do put a smile on my face; we worked so hard to retain the heritage of the area and its integral to the whole scheme, so it’s great when people share their memories of what was there and what it has now become.

As she mentions in her correspondence, our next challenge in Plymouth will be working on the Civic Centre, you can read more about what we’re planning here.

In the meantime, you can read an excerpt of the letter below.


Dear Mr Cornish,

I come from a long and continuing line of architects and quantity surveyors and grew up in Plymouth, so this comes as a big thank you. Personally, I fall on  the artistic temperament side prone to attacks of the vapours and could not draw a straight line to save my life.

As a little girl growing up in Plymouth (although not a native, father in Royal Navy) we often caught the Cremyll  foot ferry from the King Billy dockyard to walk to Rame  and picnic at Cawsand.  I can only applaud what you have done (I recognise not personally but with a team…but please take all the credit ) at the dockyard.  It is spectacular and inspiring and truly lifts my heart whenever I visit (quite frequently even though I no longer live in the area). To breathe life into old buildings without destroying the integrity and soul  as you do is so commendable and laudable.

I have connections with Manchester too – my sister and her family have lived there for years so we have all been aware  of other projects the company has undertaken and appreciate your company vision (good name too).

I remember the Civic Centre being built and the public were able to get the lift up to the top floor and “admire the views”  for many years - it is an iconic building and part of the whole post war rebuild which still causes debate….I will say all those town centre buildings  with the sun shining off them is migraine city.  I remember as a child in the 60s large areas of Plymouth still war damaged, particularly the  Drakes Circus area…  I am so thrilled to read that you will be taking on the project  and excited to see what you will do with the whole area – maintaining ponds and fountains please!   To me it is all about the  evocation of the sights and memories.

So please be suitably smug and wave this around at the next board meeting to confirm that you create fabulous environments – it’s not just about the awards (admittedly they are pretty impressive) but it’s creating spaces ordinary people like me appreciate and recognise for their brilliance.


Filed under: Mills Bakery, Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Urban Splash No comments

Setting sail once more at the Yard

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015


It’s my favourite time of year - the time when I can set sail once more and relaunch Royal William Yard’s ferry service.

After a long winter break, I was able to get back on the water on Saturday and start taking passengers from the Yard around to Plymouth’s Barbican.  It’s a wonderful job to do; our journey takes us out onto the water, where we can see beautiful sights like Devil’s Point and Devenport, before pulling in to the Barbican just half an hour away.

Each year, more and more people use the service, especially now there’s so much going on at the Yard itself; as the days warm up the restaurants on the front are bustling with visitors all of whom like to start or end their journey on the water.


We’ll now be running until the autumn and our service leaves the Yard every hour on the hour from 10am Monday through to Sunday. We then leave the Barbican on the half hour every hour for return journeys. Click here for more information - I hope to see you soon.


Filed under: Mills Bakery, Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Urban Splash No comments

The Daily Express on Royal William Yard

September 1st, 2014 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE


The Daily Express has written a feature about the changes we’ve made at Royal William Yard over the past 10 years; an article that comes following HRH The Prince Of Wales’ visit to the scheme.

Read the full story below or on the Express website


It could have been risky inviting Prince Charles to inspect a redevelopment site not only bearing the royal name but one that he might also fondly remember from visits during his Navy days. The Prince is after all well known for his readiness to pronounce on architecture.

The truth is, though, in taking on the daunting challenge 10 years ago of restoring Royal William Yard on Plymouth’s sea-lapped southern fringe, developer Urban Splash had already taken a big plunge. The original architect who also laid the foundations, Sir John Rennie, was commissioned in 1824 to construct a naval victualling yard “capable of embracing every requisite function”.

By the mid-1830s a mill, bakery, brewery, slaughterhouse and officers’ residences had been built on the 16-acre site to a scale that allowed today’s planners licence to think big. Indeed, the grandeur of these buildings was in part their downfall as such archaic places (some had become redundant soon after they were created) were expensive to maintain and deemed unsuitable to use for mere storage.

The Ministry of Defence, which owned the site, closed it in 1985. Michael Heseltine was the presiding axeman. The site lay unused despite ambitious efforts, a redundant monument to a proud naval heritage.

Indeed the buildings were considered just that, ancient monuments that were therefore untouchable.

“The buildings were scheduled as actual monuments originally, so we had to downgrade them to Grade One listed buildings to develop them at all, which took a time,” said Tom Bloxham, founder and chairman of Urban Splash, who escorted the Prince on the tour on Tuesday.

“I think the sheer scale of the problem frightened some. For us, they are just fantastic buildings; we fell in love with them immediately.” Care has been shown in making good the collection of forgotten and stately, if slightly austere, buildings.

This was not about new glass and steel affairs or monstrous new carbuncles but sensitive restoration and it was a fair bet the Prince would find much to like in what he surveyed. So it proved.

“I have been to the yard before and it was really fascinating to see it come back into use and see so many people enjoying it,” he said after his visit. “It’s wonderful to see so many recycled materials being used.”


Mr Bloxham added: “It was fantastic to show Prince Charles the yard. He has known the buildings for longer than I have because he knew them when he was in the Navy. “I think he has a genuine passion for the built environment and has been consistent with his love of finding uses for historic buildings.

“We don’t agree on everything but he’s been to see our Collegiate building in Liverpool and the Smithfield in Manchester, so now he’s been to the Royal William Yard.

“I think he was genuinely enthused by what he saw and these are the sort of projects he’s very keen on.”

When it took on the Plymouth site a decade ago, Urban Splash set out to turn somewhere old and tired into a modern, versatile space, the hallmark of the company.

Hundreds of jobs, 216 homes and almost 90,000 sq ft of workspace have been created, while businesses and institutions including universities, design agencies, architects and recruiters have been brought to the area.

Now a gastronomical hub for Plymouth, Urban Splash has lured some great brands to the development including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage.

Art galleries, an artisan bakery and a relaxed nightlife, far from the bawdy charms of Plymouth’s nearby Union Street, all make up part of the revitalised quarter, which has scooped awards for design, commercial use, benefit to tourism and sustainability.


“It’s interesting to be able to step back, 10 years on, and look at what’s been achieved. Like many big projects, if you take it as a single job it would scare you off, so we just took it job by job,” said Mr Bloxham.

This is what he and his Urban Splash co-founder Jonathan Falkingham have been doing ever since embarking on their first redevelopment in 1993 and the formula still seems to be working for them.

“It’s like having a giant Lego set to be able to take on these fantastic, if challenging, buildings and bring them back into use, whether it’s the Royal William Yard in Plymouth, Fort Dunlop in Birmingham, Lister Mills in Bradford or Ropewalks in Liverpool,” said Mr Bloxham.

“Most people, certainly in the property industry, would say there’s no future in these buildings. I think we’ve shown that with a bit of imagination, working with the right architects, you can bring them back.”

So watch out, they could be coming to an abandoned cinema near you soon, or factory site, former school, warehouse, mill or block of flats. “We’re always looking for opportunities,” added Mr Bloxham.

“One day someone rang me up out of the blue and asked if I wanted to look at Royal William Yard, and it was the same with Fort Dunlop. Sometimes we say ‘no’, others we say ‘yes, we can make something happen here’. And then we make something happen.”

Filed under: Mills Bakery, Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash No comments

Gastro delights at the Yard

April 22nd, 2014 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Emily Handslip


I was delighted to read this month’s Sainsbury’s Magazine which features a rundown of the best eateries here at Royal William Yard. A journalist from the magazine visited Plymouth to explore ‘what goodies were on offer’ in the city.

It’s been a long and exciting journey turning the Yard into what it is today; a formal Naval supplies yard, it was left to deteriorate before Urban Splash began creating homes, workspaces and restaurants and shops there a few years ago. We’ve now got an amazing mix on offer; highlights include Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Canteen and Deli, the Royal William Bakery - which the Sainsbury’s journalist calls “the antithesis of chintzy tea room where hipster bakers knead dough in an open kitchen”, Prezzo, Wagamama and more…

Sainsbury’s Magazine called the gastro mix at the Yard ‘cutting edge’ and you can read more about the eatieres they singled out in the May edition on shelves now. It’s the second article of its sorts we’ve had in just a couple of months after Devon Life ran a similar foodie feature which you can read here.

If you’ve not yet visited what’s on offer at the Yard, the summer’s the perfect time to do so!


Filed under: Mills Bakery, Plymouth, Royal William Yard, 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
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