Bishopstoke Park - Lessons-Learned

Assess, evaluate and apply – Why architects must constantly seek to learn and improve on their designs

January 22nd, 2018 Posted by All, Senior Living

In July last year, Urban Edge Architecture spent 24 hours in one of its retirement village projects in Hampshire as part of a lessons-learned exercise. You would think that such exercises should be common practice in our industry, yet often design teams can be guilty of completing a building and walking away to the next site with little consideration given to how well their project may – or may not – be performing. However, as architects for the care and retirement sector, where developers and operators are one and the same, we need to ensure that we provide the highest quality of design for them to be able to operate for at least 20 or 30 years on site. To do this we need to constantly assess and evaluate our schemes, learn from our mistakes and use those lessons to inform and improve our future designs.

This is why I spent 24 hours at Bishopstoke Park, one of our first retirement village projects. Urban Edge Architecture was appointed by Anchor Trust and English Care Villages (now Inspired Villages) in 2011 to design and deliver the first two phases of this £42M innovative retirement village on the outskirts of Southampton. We worked closely with retirement village pioneer Keith Cockell, as well as concept architect Ed Tyack, to develop a self-contained community which will allow older people to live independently with different levels of care as and when they need it. Bishopstoke Park is a major project comprising 48 care bedrooms, 36 village centre apartments, 19 assisted living apartments and 169 village apartments. Phase I is now complete and Phase II is due to complete in the coming months.

As this was one of the first projects of its kind that both Anchor Trust and Urban Edge Architecture had been involved in, our 24-hour stay formed part of a lessons-learned exercise to establish the elements that did work and those that perhaps hadn’t worked quite as well as we had envisaged and that should be designed out in the future.

It’s all too easy to design places made on broad assumptions but this can often lead to significant performance gaps between design stage and built in-use. The bottom line is that we can only design buildings that work if we really understand what is needed and the elements that will make a difference to the people who will ultimately use the space, whether employees or residents.

During my stay it was very important that I got detailed comments that only the people who ran Bishopstoke Park could give me. I spent several hours with the General Manager, Kevin Young, who was not only supportive of what we were trying to achieve, but whose enthusiasm and belief in Bishopstoke Park as a truly great place to live was a joy to hear.

I spoke with all of the staff, from the receptionist to the nurses, from the care home manager to the people who work in the wellness spa. All had great ideas and provided valuable insight that was very specific to their role or individual specialism that I would not have been able to learn by other means.

Most importantly, I spent a lot of time talking to the residents who were more than willing to share with me their stories and experiences of living at Bishopstoke Park. I came away with lots of detailed comments about everything from taps to window openings to kitchen units. Sometimes the issues were personal and at other times they were things that we could look to address more generally. And whilst there were occasions it seemed residents were more willing to talk about their past and their children than give me comments about the building itself, it afforded me a rare opportunity to really understand their backgrounds, their hobbies and how they like to spend their time – all of which will be invaluable in future design decisions.

One other very important message that came out my conversations with the residents was how difficult it can be to live in a place that is still being developed and the importance of appointing a contractor that understands the requirements of the care sector. Large retirement villages necessitate multi-phase construction and we need to remember that whilst building works may still be under way, the village is already a home to many people who don’t want to feel as if they are living in the middle of a construction site.

In that regard, it was really encouraging to hear such positive comments about Castleoak, the property solutions company for Phase II of Bishopstoke Park. Castleoak have a huge task on their hands, building a large number of units in close proximity to existing apartments and the care home, yet it was overwhelmingly apparent from my conversations with residents that they are friendly, clean, tidy, and – importantly – communicate with residents in a clear and engaging way so they know what is happening and when it’s happening – this in itself is a positive aspect as it brings interest, activity and excitement to the life of the village.

Indeed, my 24-hour stay at Bishopstoke Park proved to be a truly positive experience. Whilst residents were aware of certain issues or mistakes – whether operational or design decisions – they also understood that I wasn’t there to change Bishopstoke Park, but to influence future development. In this they were really happy to participate, content that we are still listening to them, ensuring that they can and will change something for somebody in the future and that they are still able to influence decisions.

We believe that every architect should take the time to go back and learn from each of their schemes – assess, evaluate and then apply those learnings to new schemes. In doing so, we will not only improve the buildings we design in the future, but also improve the lives of the people who will live and work within them.

Sonia Parol | Associate Director

Vacancy - Landscape Technician

Landscape Technician/Graduate required

January 18th, 2018 Posted by All, Vacancies

Urban Edge has gone ‘green’ and expanded our services to include landscape as a crucial part of the design process.

To support our Landscape Architect, we are looking for a Landscape Technician or Landscape Graduate to join the team. The candidate will ideally be a Student/Licentiate member of the Landscape Institute and competent with AutoCAD and other graphic design and 3D software. In return we offer a friendly and supportive working environment with an abundance of multidisciplinary knowledge and experience across several sectors enabling the candidate to gain experience working alongside like-minded and motivated professionals.


  • Company pension scheme
  • Private healthcare
  • Gym membership
  • Bonus structure

Salary negotiable depending on experience.

To apply please email your CV and outline what you would bring to the role to: Please include a portfolio with samples of your work.

Candidates must be eligible to live and work in the UK. If you require a Certificate of Sponsorship please make this clear as part of your application and include details of your current visa.


The Green Stuff

The green stuff

January 5th, 2018 Posted by All, Landscape

At Urban Edge we have gone ‘green’ and welcomed a new addition to our scope of services – landscape architecture. This new sector will enhance our already versatile set of skills and allow us to offer a more comprehensive quality package to the client/developer; one that sets us apart from many of our competitors. The combined knowledge and experience of architecture and landscape architecture enables us to offer a wider spectrum of services, advice and guidance. Our expertise in this field predominantly covers the residential and commercial markets, including landscape, arboriculture and ecological services.

This new addition has already met with a lot of interest from our existing clients who appreciate the benefits of landscape design in increasing the value and appeal of their sites – as well as the unavoidable requirement that landscape forms part of every planning submission! The logistical benefits of our architectural and landscape design teams working under one roof aren’t to be overlooked either. The value of coordinated design work in achieving better, more efficient outputs, and in cutting out the headache of project managing two separate sets of consultants cannot be under-estimated.

Senior Living Europe

Making connections – Seeking out new models for senior living in Europe

December 21st, 2017 Posted by All, Senior Living

This January, Urban Edge Architecture is undertaking a study tour of several care homes and senior living accommodation schemes in the Netherlands with students from the University of Lincoln.

Our trip to the Netherlands, follows a visit made to three care homes in Denmark in September last year where I was particularly struck by the example of Bomi-Parken care home, part of the Gyldenrisparken residential complex in Copenhagen. At Bomi-Parken there are no fences or gates and the care home is physically linked with the housing and schools that surround it, as well as being near to a local neighbourhood shopping centre. The elderly can interact with families and children going about their daily activities and greatly helps to combat loneliness and keep minds active.

The example of Bomi-Parken and its physical connections to the surrounding community couldn’t be in starker contrast to many of the senior living and care home facilities we see in the UK, which often isolate older people from their local communities. Yet older people are increasingly demanding the opportunity to engage in the social and economic life of the wider community. They want to live in urban and suburban areas and continue to lead an independent lifestyle, maintain and build new friendships, participate in community activities – and in doing so they also represent a new strand of consumer – the ‘silver pound’ – which is forecast to grow by 81 percent by 2030.

At Urban Edge Architecture we believe that senior living needs to be provided within our towns and cities and we are working on schemes with developers and operators that actively encourage social connection through the provision of shared and social spaces. We want to create developments where young and old can live side by side, both benefiting from the social, cultural and economic opportunities of a multigenerational community. We are therefore always keen to further our knowledge of these types of development and plan to visit the four schemes in the Netherlands to not only get a better understanding of the advantages of connecting care homes and senior living with the wider community, but also to consider the challenges and how these could be overcome.

There are four schemes that we are looking to visit – most famous of which is Wozoco, an apartment complex for elderly people in the centre of Amsterdam. Renowned for its inventive architectural approach – several of its 100 units are cantilevered on the building’s North façade – our interest lies in its urban location and connection to the surrounding amenities. Whilst in Amsterdam, we’ll also be taking a look at Silodam, a mixed development of 157 houses, offices, work and commercial spaces that is fast becoming an exemplar of multigenerational living.

In the riverside town of Deventer we will pay a visit to the Residential and Care Centre Humanitas, a long-term care facility that also doubles as a student dorm. In exchange for 30 hours of volunteer work per month, students are able to stay in the centre’s vacant rooms free of charge. It’s an excellent example of intergenerational living and we’re looking forward to meeting with residents, students and management to discuss the benefits of multigenerational integration. For our students, they will not only get to see first hand how a mixed-use and multigenerational project works, but they will also need to be in fine voice as ‘payment’ for our visit will see them entertaining residents by singing at the dinner table!

If time allows, we also hope to stop off at the Hogeweyk Dementia Village in Weesp. This small village on the edge of Amsterdam has 23 apartments and a care home for people with dementia, but unlike many traditional dementia-care homes, residents at Hogeweyk are encouraged to be active – they manage their own households, shop at the local Hogeweyk supermarket and enjoy the other facilities the village has to offer such as a hairdresser, restaurant bar and theatre.

You’ll have noticed a common theme here: care homes and senior living schemes which are physically connected with the wider community – that’s our interest and it’s a model we feel needs to be further encouraged in the UK.

In the UK, the current focus appears to be on senior living at the high end of the market – luxurious care villages, often located in the South East, which are based on New Zealand and Australian models. Yet the issue of an ageing population affects all parts of the country, from North to South, and across a variety of social strata. It is our view that we should be looking into mid-market models based on the Scandinavian and Dutch approaches that allow for multigenerational integration and connect with the wider community through communal services.

Following our visit, we will publish some of our thoughts and impressions here. We’ll also let you know how the students got on singing for their supper! Stay tuned…

Sonia Parol | Associate Director

Clock Tower Retail Park, Chelmsford

Just in time for Christmas! Clock Tower Retail Park achieves practical completion

November 24th, 2017 Posted by All, Retail

Urban Edge are currently redeveloping the former Britvic factory site in Chelmsford. The works consist of the demolition of existing buildings and the erection of a mixed-use development comprising new retail stores, an A3 pod and industrial units, all with associated means of access, car parking, landscaping, together with the repositioning of the existing Clock Tower.  The Clock Tower itself is a distinctive structure of significant local interest and from which the new retail park will take its name.

The project began in January 2017 and Clock Tower Retail Park will be open for trading in December 2017.

Greenside View, Gerrards Cross

Gerrards Cross resi-conversion complete!

August 14th, 2017 Posted by All, Residential

Client: Canon House Properties Limited
Apartments: 6
Parking spaces: 6
Development budget: £750,000

On behalf of our client Canon House Properties Limited we undertook the extensive remodelling of a former kitchen/bathroom showroom on a very prominent site along the A40 in Gerrards Cross.

The development proposals extended to internal reconfiguration of the space to create six new apartments, along with completely re-elevating the external façades and providing new fenestration.

The scheme received planning approval in June 2016 and works started on site in December 2016. The apartments were completed in the summer of 2017.

Senior living

A new urban approach to senior living

June 6th, 2017 Posted by All, Senior Living

Urban environments are becoming senior living hot spots.

How can urban environments best support an ageing population? This question poses unique challenges and demands original thinking. We must take into account an individual’s independence, quality of life and care requirements, balanced against their personal finances and that of the public sector.

At Urban Edge we believe that senior living, which meets the demands of age 65+ residents, needs to be provided within our towns and cities. We think that the social, cultural and transportational benefits that come with living in an urban environment should be enjoyed by all ages.

We are working on schemes with developers and operators that actively encourage social connection through the provision of shared and social spaces. This complements the wider community’s dining, leisure and retail experience, something that cannot be replicated in typical out-of-town village settlements.

We think that the opportunity for the aged 65+ group to significantly contribute to the positive experience of life in the city is something that should prove a crucial design driver for architects and urbanists over the coming decades. We are encouraging Local Government to support this movement.

There is an increasing number of active, healthy members of society approaching (or beyond) retirement age who are still engaged in leisure and cultural pursuits. With this will to participate in mainstream society, this group of 65+ are in an exciting phase of life. One which could potentially afford new freedoms and opportunities: a cohort fully able to contribute to our society and the economy. At Urban Edge we are keen to encourage that.

Sonia Parol | Associate Director

Vacancy - Job Runners

Job Runners – Architects/Architectural Technologists required

June 5th, 2017 Posted by All, Vacancies

Urban Edge is expanding our team in line with our increasing workload. We are seeking experienced Job Runners to operate across many sectors including retail, leisure, logistics and residential, with projects to £40m.

Candidates must have experience in contract administration, with a strong technical bias, capable of managing medium and large scale projects from concept through to completion with a strong understanding of current construction detailing techniques, regulations and product knowledge.


  • Company pension scheme
  • Private healthcare
  • Gym membership
  • Bonus structure

Salary negotiable depending on experience.

To apply please email your CV and outline what you would bring to the role to: Please include a portfolio with samples of your work.

Candidates must be eligible to live and work in the UK. If you require a Certificate of Sponsorship please make this clear as part of your application and include details of your current visa.


Glencairn Retail Park, Kilmarnock

Additional 75,000 sq.ft of retail for Kilmarnock

March 17th, 2017 Posted by All, Retail

Client: Savills Investment Management
Total retail accommodation: 100,000 sq.ft
Parking spaces: 600 (approx)
Development budget: £5,000,000

We have recently been commissioned to develop proposals at Glencairn Retail Park, Kilmarnock for an additional 75,000 sq.ft of retail floor space adjacent to the existing retail terrace (phase II) incorporating a number of new retail units, together with pod units and a drive-through unit at the main entrance of the site (phase III).

We have been specifically instructed by the client to maximise the potential lettable area and enhance the parking, landscaping and public realm to deliver a ‘destination’ scheme. Careful consideration has been given to ensuring both existing and proposed developments continue the same visual appearance in terms of façades/entrances and maintain continuity of trade to tenants whilst works are underway.

St Andrew's Shopping Park, Birmingham

Sub-division of former ‘Woolies’ in Birmingham

March 14th, 2017 Posted by All, Retail

Client: BMW (UK) Trustees Limited
Total retail accommodation: 85,000 sq.ft
Parking spaces: 550 (approx)
Development budget: £2,800,000

Following the demise of Woolworths this 85,000 sq.ft unit, located directly opposite Birmingham City Football Club, was vacated in January 2009. Following our instruction we gained planning approval for sub-division into seven smaller units in early May. An internalised undercover service area at the rear was provided to allow the units to be serviced away from the main public highway – a condition critical to the local planning authority.

The building was given a complete facelift with new entrance feature canopies to highlight the unit entrances and new totem towers to give the park an increased street presence. Several national high street retailers now trade from this new shopping park environment.

St Anns Shopping Centre, Harrow

Reaching potential at St Anns in Harrow

March 14th, 2017 Posted by All, Retail

Client: Orchard Street Investment Management
Total retail accommodation: 225,000 sq.ft
Parking spaces: 900 (approx)
Development budget: Confidential

We were appointed by Orchard Street Investment Management to look at various asset management opportunities at St Anns Shopping Centre. St Anns is located opposite Harrow on the Hill station and is home to over 40 high street brands including H&M, Primark, M&S, Schuh and Tiger along with a dedicated food court on the first floor, and is within easy reach of bus and train connections from central London. The shopping centre also boasts secure parking for over 900 vehicles.

These opportunities included reconfiguring and maximising the internal space in a large retail unit on behalf of H&M, who opened for business in November 2012. We have also looked at a number of proposals to improve the entrances, signage, toilet facilities and the flooring throughout the mall with many of these initiatives still ongoing.

Colne Lodge, Staines-upon-Thames

Redeveloped offices in Staines-upon-Thames

March 14th, 2017 Posted by All, Residential

Client: Porchester Properties Limited
Apartments: 9
Parking spaces: 10
Development budget: £1,000,000

We were instructed by our client to redevelop this former office space located in the centre of Staines-upon-Thames. Having determined that renewed office use was no longer sustainable we decided that the best course of action was to convert the building to residential use and take advantage of the great location and proximity to local amenities on offer.

We proposed to remodel the building to significantly improve its appearance and integrate the existing Pizza Express unit more successfully. Additionally, we added a third floor to the building in order to give the client an additional two properties which succeeded in making the scheme commercially viable.

We submitted the scheme to the local planning department in early 2012 and successfully gained approval in the summer. Construction began in early 2014 and the building was completed just after Christmas.

Tritton Retail Park, Lincoln

Sub-division of Comet unit at Tritton Retail Park

March 13th, 2017 Posted by All, Retail

Client: LaSalle Investment Management
Total retail accommodation: 125,000 sq.ft
Parking spaces: 200 (approx)
Development budget: £1,000,000

Acting on behalf of LaSalle Investment Management we are heavily involved in ongoing asset management initiatives at this highly visible retail park located on Tritton Road, approximately two miles from Lincoln city centre. Together with the agents we are also exploring refurbishment options for new entrances and façade treatments as well as a potential reconfiguration of the Currys unit.

We have also recently delivered the sub-division of the former Comet unit into two smaller units for Homesense (12,000 sq.ft) and Oak Furniture Land (8,000 sq.ft). These units were opened in August 2014 and are both trading successfully.

Enfield Retail Park, North London

Asset management at Enfield Retail Park

March 13th, 2017 Posted by All, Retail

Client: Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited
Total retail accommodation: 150,000 sq.ft
Parking spaces: 600 (approx)
Development budget: £5,000,000

Universities Superannuation Scheme acquired this very successful 150,000 sq.ft retail park which lies directly adjacent the A10 in Enfield, North London. We were appointed to pursue various short, mid and long term asset management strategies they have for the park.

The first tranche of works involved the extension and sub-division of an existing retail unit including over cladding and introduction of a new entrance feature.

The second phase of work focused on the remodelling of the remaining retail terrace, upgrading the existing unit façades and rolling out new signage features and cladding principles as introduced in phase I to introduce consistency and identity throughout the park.

Finally, we were instructed to deliver a pod unit, situated to the south of the main retail terrace, comprising accommodation for three retailers. The scheme received planning approval in October 2013 and the units were handed over late 2014.

Croft Retail and Leisure Park, Bromborough

Initiatives at The Croft Retail & Leisure Park

March 13th, 2017 Posted by All, Retail

Client: Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited
Total retail accommodation: 450,000 sq.ft
Parking spaces: 1,200 (approx)
Development budget: £10,000,000 (phased)

The Croft Retail and Leisure Park is conveniently located on the Wirral peninsula, just off the A41 New Chester Road, Bromborough, four miles south of Birkenhead town centre. This 450,000 sq.ft retail and leisure park is a hugely popular destination for local shoppers.

We have been involved in the long term strategic asset management and development of the park for a number of years, delivering a wide range of remodelling projects across the development. Ongoing works currently include:

  • Strip units G/H and J back to the external shell (including all existing fixtures and fittings), recladding of the front elevation and all associated shopfront works
  • Development of proposals for land to the south of the retail park. Current plans include four new retail units totalling approximately 55,000 sq.ft, two new pod units and parking provision for 300 vehicles