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In their conservation bulletin this month, English Heritage used Park Hill as an example of a successful historic building conversion. In it, they analysed how developers can create sensitively designed new homes while conserving and enhancing heritage.

As part of the feature, I was given the opportunity to write a more in-depth article about the general Urban Splash approach to redevelopment; I focussed on Park Hill, a scheme I called our ‘poster-boy of regeneration’.

We’ve worked closely with English Heritage on many occasions - but the relationship’s grown especially strong at Park Hill. There, they’ve proved crucial consultants on the preservation of the building - especially the intricacies of matching the original concrete facade and panels.

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You can read the full article here, or there’s an excerpt below. Enjoy!

“Park Hill in Sheffield is our current poster-boy Grade II* listed regeneration project. Unapologeti­cally projecting its Brutalist facades towards the city, it is currently being redeveloped into a mixed-use scheme of over 900 homes. We released the first phase in 2012 to critical acclaim – it was shortlisted for the Stirling prize – and was a commercial success.

In a sea of housing mediocrity, the symbolism of an established landmark building can provide an opportunity to create something unique. Historic refurbishments were initially driven by the demand for loft-style apartments. Decades later, people view these buildings as being warm, characterful and full of monetary and social value.

It’s fair to say that where there is demand in a property market, there is value. Urban Splash has been able to deliver this on a variety of projects by creating a product that is contemporary in design terms – and thus palatable to the requirements of the modern marketplace – but that avoids pastiche.

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One of our guiding principles is to be respectful of the original building fabric – not just the ele­ments of architectural interest but also the textures, materials and sheer volume that combine to por­tray the history of these buildings.Working with the grain of the building is another priority, not forcing it to do things it doesn’t want to do. We always seek to retain the original structure when­ ever we can, but there at the same time not be afraid to change it where there is good reason.We strive to achieve a clear architectural language to articulate and express the building inside and out. While concentrating on creating spacious, well- planned light and airy homes we also pay attention to the quality of common parts and the interaction of an historic building with its local surroundings at ground level.

Historic buildings are not just attractive develop­ ment proposals. They also retain their value over time, have the ability to leverage viability-gap or grant-funding subsidies and can contribute to wider regeneration efforts. Local authority master plans, development plans and economic strategies can target historic buildings for development with demonstrable results in terms of planning gain.

Alongside the economic rewards there is also the gain to conservation. By transforming redundant buildings into homes and giving them a new day- to-day use we are ensuring their preservation and ongoing maintenance for many generations to come.”

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A best ‘cellar’ at Royal William Yard

April 29th, 2014 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Yannick Loue

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I am Yannick, founder of Le Vignoble, we are a wine merchant and lounge. We’ve been at the Royal William Yard in Plymouth for a couple of years now and are delighted to see how quickly our wines, classes and other products have become best ‘cellars’!

I think that the local community is drawn to our varied product range; we stock more than 300 wines, 36 of which are available by the glass. We also offer rating events and wine education classes which residents and visitors love!

I am also a huge advocate of the Yard and believe in what the area has already become and what it will become in the future, there’s no way we’d have considered opening Le Vignoble anywhere else. The redevelopment of these rustic buildings really ties in with our concept, where we link old world and new world wines with our bare wood features and the modern technology of enomatic wine serving systems.

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So if you would like to join us in raising a (filled!) glass to the Yard then come and see us for a drink. You might also want to time your visit to take advantage of our monthly offers; this month we’ve got the beautiful Brunello di Montalcino Casa di Baldassi 2005 at just £13 per bottle and 20% discount on 2 bottles. We’ve beaten the supermarkets to stocking that one!

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Gastro delights at the Yard

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

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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!

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The Steve Jobs of Regeneration? I wish..!

April 15th, 2014 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Tom Bloxham MBE

Ahead of a trip to Dublin to give a talk to Property Industry Ireland, I gave an interview to the Irish Independent newspaper’s property editor.

The generous article focusses on Chimney Pot Park saying the development “is likely responsible for saving tens of thousands of similar rundown Victorian terraces from the wrecking ball…”

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The feature also rather kindly called me ‘the Steve Jobs of urban regeneration’ (I wish!) and outlined some of our best work, citing how we have: “…proven to be a masters of turning “useless” buildings and even entire “useless” streets into desirable family homes…”

tb_blog2It’s a flattering read and one that’s also peppered with comments from Peter Stafford - the Mancunian who’s now tasked with ‘rebuilding Ireland’s economy’ in his role with Property Industry Ireland. It’s nice to see him draw those parallels and use Manchester and other UK cities as the barometer.

You can read the full article here.


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182 new homes at Park Hill..!

April 7th, 2014 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Simon Gawthorpe

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It’s been a busy week as we announced that work is underway on the second phase of homes at Park Hill in Sheffield, a £17 million investment that’s being delivered by Urban Splash in joint venture with Places for People. The new works will bring 182 new homes to the building; the first of which will be ready mid-2015.

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The regional press took a lot of interest in the new phase and you can read the best bits below:

BBC Online

The Star, Sheffield

The Sheffield Telegraph

The Business Desk

Yorkshire Business Insider

What House

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Warren Buffett is one of my heroes and one of the world’s all-time great investors. It may sound strange, but the Berkshire Hathaway annual reports are some of my favourite reads. Interesting, incisive and amusing.

Here are a few of his great tips on business:

Look for three key attributes when you’re hiring people:“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”

About socks and stocks: “Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that ‘Price is what you pay; value is what you get.’ Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”

Time is ticking away: “Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre.”
Be patient: “No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”

Work with people you respect: “I have turned down business deals that were otherwise decent deals because I didn’t like the people I would have to work with. I didn’t see any sense in pretending.”

Bad things aren’t obvious when times are good: “After all, you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.”

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On your bike..!

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

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We are delighted to announce that a new cycle initiative is coming to Plymouth and Royal William Yard is going to be a part of it.

If you’ve visited London in the past few years you’ll have seen the ‘Boris Bikes’ dotted around the city and what’s being launched in Plymouth is no different.

It’s going to be great, visitors and residents to the Yard can hop on the bikes and cycle around the scheme and the highlights of the wider city.

When our friends at Destination Plymouth and Plymouth City Council first started looking into the idea we found that there was a lot of interest from local people so I’m looking forward to getting the bikes in place and seeing lots of you take it up.

The pictures on this blog show the cycle arches where the bikes are going to be stored, we aim to have that ready and the bikes installed for use at Easter.

I’ll keep you posted and write another blog when they’re ready to ride..!

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Muscling in at Fort Dunlop

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

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Today marks the one month anniversary since I launched my new 247 Gym here at Fort Dunlop in Birmingham – and what a month it’s been!

It’s the fifth gym we’ve opened and follows our other centres in Kidderminster, Fareham, Portsmouth and another nearby gym in Birmingham. We already have an amazing 15,000 members – 2,000 of those at Fort Dunlop – so it’s been great to meet so many of you visiting already.

I think the gym’s been so well received because of the mix of fitness activities we offer; our gym hosts a range of classes, including Body Pump, Body Combat and Body Attack. Customers at Fort Dunlop like these classes so much that we are already adding additional classes to our timetable to satisfy demand. The demand also means we’re soon opening a beauty therapy and sports injury clinic here. Ladies working in the building also like our women’s only gym too!

Our pricing structure’s also been really well received; there is a contract option for £17.95 per month or a more flexible non-contract option at £19.95 per month.

And – the clue is in the name – we are open 24 hours a day so it suits the plethora of businesses at Fort Dunlop who operate at different hours and may want to work out at unconventional times of day.

We’d love to hear from any organisations at Fort Dunlop who’ve yet to come and visit the gym – and any individuals or businesses from the local area. If you’d like a tour of the space, then please drop me a line! If you want a taster first though, watch our new promo video here.

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Realising my dream…

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

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I was ecstatic this month to confirm a deal that will allow me to open my brand new nursery at Fort Dunlop in Birmingham.

The building’s bustling and from the second you walk in you see there’s a happy and vibrant atmosphere. It’s full to the brim with businesses so commercially I know it’s the right location. There are hundreds of parents here whose lives I hope to make easier with the nursery.

Our deal’s been announced just a month after the news that a gym operator has also moved to the Fort, so it’s great for all of us working in the building that there are now so many amenities on site.

So, if you’re a parent running your business from Fort Dunlop, or working in or near to the building, I’d love to welcome your kids to Letty’s Little Learners. Drop me a line to hear more…

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Awards nomination for our Stairway to Devon

February 13th, 2014 [ No comments ] [ Add comment ]
by Emily Handslip

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Our stunning stair structure at Royal William Yard (often dubbed the ‘Stairway to Devon’!) has been shortlisted for a Civic Trust Award.

It is one of 79 projects from around the country that have made the shortlist and we are thrilled about it.

The staircase is a wonderful structure, it was designed by our architects Gillespie Yunnie and has been celebrated lots in the design community.

Dezeen, the oracle of good design, last year featured an article on it; their story was peppered with beautiful imagery, showing it’s not just functional, but great to look at and a contemporary addition to the historic Yard buildings.

We’ll find out how the staircase has faired at an awards ceremony on March 7th and I’ll report back straight away!

Read what the Plymouth Herald had to say about this news in this week’s paper.

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