My 22nd MIPIM

April 13th, 2015 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE

mipim_sqLife’s back to normal now the Easter break is over and I’ve finally recovered from MIPIM earlier in the month.

Here’s a look back at the key event in the international property calendar…

Another year done at MIPIM; the property industry’s annual chance to descend on Cannes.

This year was my 22nd MIPIM; it’s hosted in the South of France and is a chance to do business, make new contacts, initiate deals and have a bit of fun - what’s not to like!

It felt serious this year, and was not the ‘freshers week for surveyors’ I’d feared. As ever, I came away invigorated by the work people in the industry are doing and am now full of new ideas, new connections and perhaps a little too much Rosé!

One of the best parts for me is my post MIPIM BBQ on the Friday. It started as a very quiet wind down for me and a few friends at my house, but since seems to have developed its own energy! Thank you again to all who came along. Rather than try and put it into words, I’ll leave it to the bloggers below to share their experiences of the day with you…

John Forbes: “I did get to go to what is undoubtedly the best party at MIPIM - the annual Friday barbecue at Tom Bloxham’s villa in Tourrettes sur Loup. Not only do I get to turn up in sweaty lycra after cycling up the unfeasibly steep hill to the house, I get to rub shoulders with architects and other talented people, which for a mere beancounter makes for an uplifting end to MIPIM. Tom’s villa, Maison Bulle, is also a structural marvel.”

Nick Riley’s blog The Life of Riley“The house was an incredible experience. I’ve never seen anything like it and it inspired me as an Architect. It’s proof that anything is possible (or “Tout est Possible” as Lovag would say).”

Phil Coffey for his Architects Journal blog: “1am at the Bloxham house. What goes to Tom’s stays at Tom’s. But it’s fair to say that, as an architect who considers that architecture can change people’s lives for the better, this place is inspirational. A place made from the proceeds of a transformation of a down and out city (my home town of Manchester), the refurbishment of iconic buildings and the enthusiasm, skill and the sheer ballsy nature of its owner - it is a place we can all learn from. I’m a lucky man to be able to experience it but it remains the main reason MIPIM is so important to me. For all the money and the apparent carelessness of the construction industry this place shows that you can care about people, place and culture and make money for your investors; if only everyone had the same brilliance to pull it off. Back to London on Monday full of intent to make a difference. Checking out.”

Back at my desk in Manchester it all seems a long time ago and a long way away…

If you are planning to attend MIPIM next year, take a look at my old blog of MIPIM top tips which originally featured in the Architects Journal, they’ll help you sail through the event in 2016.

Filed under: Tom Bloxham MBE, 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


I was delighted to see that Property Week had shortlisted Fort Dunlop as one of the best buildings to be developed in the UK in the past 20 years. I’m so proud to keep seeing it getting recognition, it’s already won 18 awards including the prestigious BCO Test of Time Award.


Fort Dunlop was a great success story for us and one of the best examples of what we do. We transformed it from a disused tyre factory - one that stood in a very prominent position overlooking the M6 motorway in Birmingham - and instead created a fantastic commercial hub. It featured 345,000 sq ft of office and leisure space and from the day we opened the doors in December 2006 we kept it more than 90% let. We bought it as a wreck, developed it filled it and sold it in 2014 to Tristan Capital - a top institutional fund.


We were able to do that because the space was so well designed by shedkm it even featured a huge green roof which we and tenants used for many an event.

Find out more about the building and its history here.

Filed under: Fort Dunlop, Urban Splash No comments

Stairway to Devon

We’ve collected over 365 awards in 21 years of Urban Splash, includingr 15 new awards in 2014.

Our Stairway to Devon at Royal William Yard connecting the South West Coast Path was a favourite in ‘14. We saw it commended in The Civic Trust Awards, collect AJ’s Small Projects Sustainability Prize and the Judges’ Special Award at the Abercrombie Awards - celebrating the scheme that has contributed most to the city since the awards began. The staircase was also recognised as Best Smaller Development Project. As a RIBA South West Award winner, it was also shortlisted for the prestigious RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize.

Saxton in Leeds was also voted the country’s ‘Most Innovative Redevelopment’ by readers of First Time Buyer Magazine.

With four awards from the RIBA, we’ve now received more than 50 accolades from the architectural body. This Pinterest board is a collection of them…


We celebrated a new working partnership at Park Hill.

Working on a joint venture basis with Places for People, we started work on the next phase at Park Hill, creating 182 new homes in the second phase of the scheme.

Work is moving along nicely and we plan to launch the next phase of new homes for sale early this year.

Our favourite brutalist building was also featured in Dezeen as a celebration of classic brutalist architecture from around the world.

Spring saw another new Pear-ing with a great partner. We were delighted to announce another new joint venture relationship with The Pears Group. Included in the deal were a number of buildings from our commercial portfolio.


We’re proud of our people, and proud that they want to stay with us. We had a great few sunny days in summer hosting our “lifers” trip at Maison Bulle in the south of France. This trip marked over 10 years of hard work at Urban Splash for a number of colleagues who have supported us across a host of different roles.

By working together as a team over the last 21 years, we have been able to create something quite special! More later on new opportunities to become part of our team…


Co-founder of Urban Splash Jonathan Falkingham MBE was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University. Receiving the honour for his contribution to entrepreneurship and regeneration in Merseyside - including great schemes like Concert Square, Ropewalks and the Matchworks in Liverpool.


We were honoured to welcome HRH The Prince of Wales to Royal William Yard in July to celebrate 10 years of Urban Splash’s involvement in the scheme. HRH was impressed at the transformation, saying it had been “fascinating to see it come back into use and to see so many people enjoying it.”


A wealth of deals came to fruition in 2014. We reached a grand total of 156,000 sq ft of regional deals for the North West commercial portfolio alone. We announced Liverpool’s largest letting of the year with 65,000 sq ft of space at Matchworks going to Amey, as part of an amazing 140,000 sq ft of deals completed by us in the city.


We said goodbye to one our favourite schemes, selling Fold Dunlop to Tristan Episo Fund. Having transformed the redundant tyre factory in Birmingham and kept it at more than 97% let, the development is one of our greatest successes.

October saw the start of a new year for US. Having released our accounts, announcing our turnover has passed £100 million for the first time ever and that we’ve returned to profit and have now restructured all our historic debt.


Our partnership with Places for People goes from strength to strength as another exciting new masterplan is underway. Former shipyard Smith’s Dock is to be given a new lease of life, as planning permission is granted on the first phase of new homes. The Riverside regeneration project in North Shields will bring over 800 new homes to the area when completed.


In New Islington news, we’ve recently appointed architects sixtwo to transform Stubbs Mill. We’ll be announcing our plans for 30,000 sq ft of flexible commercial space this year… it’s going to make the most amazing workspace in Manchester!


We saw the year out with the early bird launch of hoUSe! A new build terraced family house in the city; and because its our hoUSe, we’ve made it extra special! I’m as excited about this project as I was about the first one 20 years ago when we decided to built loft apartments in the city centre.

New Islington became home to our new family housing concept hoUSe. You can design your own home overlooking the Marina, with loads of space, high ceilings, big windows and between 1,000 - 1,500 sq ft of space.

Here’s a short animation explaining our hoUSe concept, and my blog about this big idea.

So what does 2015 have in store for us?

hoUSe finds its next home with views aplenty as our first 34 new homes are set to arrive in Smith’s Dock, North Shields this year.

A ‘Hub of Creative Excellence’ at Royal William Yard. Applications are still open for the new artists studios at Ocean Studios in Factory Cooperage. When it’s finished later this year, it will offer space for 100 artists, a gallery and workshop facilities.

We’re recruiting - would you like to join US or know someone else who might?

We’re on the look out for the people to fill a number of new roles, in sales and lettings, residential management, development and more. If you’d like to join our team, take a look at the latest vacancies on our website and learn more on what its like to work for us

Over the last 21 years Urban Splash has developed 60 schemes worth in excess of £1 billion, helped create 1000’s of homes, jobs, and transformed over 5 million sq ft of commercial space. We have created one of the few property brands to have survived the last recession, forming fantastic joint ventures and building up an 800-unit PRS portfolio, with a pipeline of a further 2,000 units.

I’m often asked which has been my favourite redevelopment scheme, and I always say “the next one”.

Here’s hoping for a good year!

Filed under: Concert Square, Fort Dunlop, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Matchworks, Park Hill, Royal William Yard, Saxton, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash, hoUSe 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


Ducie House in Manchester is one of the great Urban Splash commercial success stories. Located on Ducie Street just a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Train Station, we took over the building in 1993 and for the past 21 years have welcomed some of the coolest start-ups from around the city into the scheme.

This month, we’ve reached our highest ever occupancy after existing tenants Codethink, Destination Space, Addicus and Makeurmove all confirmed they’ve extended or expanded their leases at the development. They’re just four of the businesses that embody what this scheme’s about.


For years we’ve enjoyed having businesses like these at the building; back in the 90s there were lots of bands and artists based there - some of the most famous tenants included 808 State and Simply Red.

Ducie, which was converted by renowned architect Ian Simpson - one of his first schemes - has since seen hundreds of companies start up there since. Developers Ask, ANS SoftwareBrazen PR, Ear to the Ground - they all had their origins there.

It’s the same today, we’re full of interesting, creative companies and it’s always a joy to hear what they’re doing.

If you want to hear more about the remaining units we have at the building just drop me a line. We’re really flexible and the scheme’s great for start-ups so come and have a chat about how we can make it work for you.


Filed under: Ducie House, Manchester, Urban Splash No comments

Urban Splash hoUSe: our big idea.

October 13th, 2014 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE

I have long been frustrated with mediocrity of the UK’s new build housing, but also see that mediocrity and monotony as an opportunity - especially as apparently the majority of the population don’t even consider new build when moving house. These sorts of views depress me…


New build housing tends to be uninspiring, pastiche in design and often, a very poor copy of traditional houses with low ceilings, small windows, little character and tiny rooms you can’t alter! Above all they are usually small; so small most house builders don’t even tell you the true sq ft! I often wonder why other consumer laws don’t appear to apply in property - when you buy a tin of beans the law requires the makers to tell you the exact contents by weight - but then you spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on a house and no one has to tell you exactly the size of what you are buying..!

We have been thinking for years now about how we can break the mould, inject some new ideas and disrupt the house building industry - just as we did when we helped create the city centre living boom and loft apartment trend in the 1990’s.


So we’re about to introduce to the market hoUSe, our housing scheme that’s drawn inspiration from the great English Victorian and Georgian terrace streets of the past.


The reason for developing this kind of house was that we noticed many of our customers who had bought and enjoyed Urban Splash flats, would ultimately get older, richer (have babies!) and therefore end up moving to Victorian and Georgian houses in the suburbs. Once in there, most of them then strip out the internal walls and put in contemporary bathrooms and kitchens.  So it’s long begged me to ask why there are no new build equivalents? And why is there nothing in the City Centre?

We wanted to make houses with great space standards; high ceilings, big windows and we wanted to give customers the ability to alter and change the layouts both initially when they buy so they can specify the exact house they want - or if they are on a budget the option to buy a “base model” now and over time improve and adapt.

So here is our idea…


First, we ask customers to decide what they want. Do they want a 1,000 sq ft home over two storeys, or a 1,500 sq ft home over three storeys.


Then, customers can decide if they’re a loft liver - where their living room will be on the top floor with an exposed pitched roof - or if they prefer garden living; homes that come with a more conventional living room on the ground floor with a relationship to the garden.


We then ask customers to pick from a whole series of floorplans for each floor


They’ll then choose the add-ons such as; size and type of kitchen, floor finishes - be they timber or carpet… Or extras such as utility rooms and home offices.


So what does it look like when it comes together? Here is one we built earlier (as they say on Blue Peter)

house_tb_blog10Proper double aspect open plan living

house_tb_blog111Windows you can stand in

house_tb_blog12Windows you can sit in

house_tb_blog13Ceilings so high you can’t touch them on your tip toes

house_tb_blog14So well insulated it needs only these tiny recessed heaters

house_tb_blog15A kitchen top the whole family can eat at

Eventually, we want to build hoUSes all over the country, but the first site for now is in New Islington near Manchester city centre, a few hundred meters from Piccadilly and the Northern Quarter (which Urban Splash helped develop). The homes are right next to the Cotton Field Park, the New Islington Metrolink stop, Marina and the New Islington Free School (sponsored by Urban Splash, Manchester City Council and The Manchester Grammar School).


The hoUSes don’t just look good, they are practical and each has a small garden and car parking space, loads of storage, electric PV on the roof as well as solar thermal water heating.

I am as excited by hoUSe as I was by our first lofts over 20 years ago. At prices less per sq foot than city centre flats, lower maintenance costs than old Victorian houses or blocks of flats, and available with Help To Buy, I am hoping these will be a great success and be a big part of Urban Splash’s future – and maybe yours too..? If you want to know more, register now or get in touch with our agents Julie Twist Properties.

Filed under: Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash No comments

Park Hill: it’s a real quality building!

October 7th, 2014 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE

Great to see our much loved brutalist icon in Dezeen recently.

They have revisited our very own streets in the sky to kick off a series of building studies looking back at classic Brutalist buildings from around the world. Where better place to start than Park Hill in Sheffield.

From ambitious architecture of the 60’s by Ivor Smith and Jack Lynn, to its current day transformation – here’s the story of a beautiful brutalist that’s close to our hearts.

Park Hill as it was

Park Hill from above

The streets in the sky

The original Park Hill

Park Hill community

Streets in the sky





Park Hill is like Marmite

Park Hill today

The renovated streets

Park Hill commercial space

Dominating the Sheffield skyline like a castle on a hill, it’s been a privilege (if quite a challenging one) to be able to work with this Brutalist masterpiece & bring it back to life.

Filed under: Park Hill, Sheffield, Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash No comments