Charlotte Hall Completes Part I

Student placement, Charlotte Hall completes her Part I studies at Loughborough University

June 18th, 2024 Posted by All, News

We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Charlotte Hall, our 2023 student placement, who has completed her Part I at the University of Loughborough. Observing her apply the skills acquired at Urban Edge to excel and finalise her university projects has been truly rewarding. Below is a glimpse into her academic pursuits and her experiences during the concluding year:

How did you find your last year at university?

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my final year at Loughborough University as I have been able to lead my own interests and explore my passions regarding the future of our environment and what this means for architecture. I have discovered the value of blending the public realm with rigid infrastructure to eliminate boundaries between indoor and outdoor space for the well-being benefits of ourselves and also our climate. This is a topic I wish to explore even further during my Part II studies and I am excited to see where this takes me.”

What was your dissertation on? 

“My dissertation was titled: The contemporary city of the year 2100 – A study into the relationship between the built environment and public realm within our cities 100 years from now. The contemporary city is continuously evolving. With growing climate challenges and compounding technological developments, the future of the relationship between the built environment and the public realm could look significantly different in appearance from that of the present. My study found that the relationship between the built environment and the public realm in a contemporary city in the 2100s is likely to be a united one from undertaking a critical analysis of both architectural case studies as well as digital ones. Landscaping and infrastructure will become harmonious along all axes as the public realm becomes three-dimensional. This implies that architectural practices will change as the public realm will no longer be limited to a single plane as our streets rise alongside infrastructure development.”

Charlotte Hall Completes Part I

Can you tell us more about the arc effect and your studio project?

“Sure! It has been predicted by researchers that the environment will undergo a period of decay until the year 2100, when the World’s population will eventually stabilise at approximately 10 billion. The twenty-second century is known as the breakthrough period as the environment regains its chance to be restored as population factors are no longer pushing against it. However, there is great risk that by this time too little wildlife will remain to be restored. Therefore, I created a typology that protects species that are at risk of endangerment, set in Sheffield, which can then be gradually released back into the city in the twenty-second century once the breakthrough period is reached. The project will become a monument of hope, celebrating the reunition between the people, animals and plants as the ecosystems are opened back up to the city. The protected wildlife will disperse, rejuvenating city life as harmony is restored.”

We are thrilled to observe Charlotte’s remarkable development throughout this year, especially her commitment to a theme that contemplates the future of architecture as a means to safeguard our natural surroundings and future wildlife. We eagerly anticipate her contribution to our team in Nottingham when we welcome her back later in the year.

Vacancy - Part II Architectural Assistant to a Director

Part II Architectural Assistant to a Director required

June 7th, 2024 Posted by All, Vacancies

Our studio, nestled in the historic and scenic town of Stamford, Lincolnshire, is on the lookout for a creative and skilled individual to join our team. Specialising in a variety of sectors such as later living, industrial, multi-residential, retail and leisure, we handle projects with values reaching up to £40m. At our architectural practice, we pride ourselves on delivering comprehensive services that span design, masterplanning, and project execution. Our team’s collective expertise has cultivated a robust clientele in diverse fields, including retail, logistics, and later living.

In the role of Architectural Assistant, you will collaborate directly with a Director while also demonstrating the ability to take initiative and work autonomously. You’ll engage in projects from their inception to the intricate phases of design. This role is an excellent opportunity for the ideal candidate to enhance their skills, gain valuable experience and advance their professional journey.

The ideal candidate for this position will exhibit the following attributes:

  • Driven by an intrinsic motivation and exceptional organisational skills
  • Capable of operating swiftly without compromising on accuracy and attention to detail
  • Outstanding verbal and non-verbal communication abilities, coupled with strong interpersonal skills
  • Competent in managing time effectively to meet pressing deadlines and perform well in high-pressure scenarios
  • In-depth knowledge of contemporary construction detailing methods, compliance standards and material specifications
  • Skilled in conceptualising, visualising and presenting concepts with clarity
  • Proficient with design software such as AutoCAD, Photoshop and SketchUp, with BIM/REVIT experience being an added advantage, though not essential

Our team enjoys a suite of benefits designed to support both personal and professional well-being:

  • A welcoming and vibrant office culture that encourages creative thinking and new ideas
  • A salary package that reflects our commitment to your career advancement
  • A free gym membership to promote health and wellness
  • The chance to contribute to diverse projects with the mentorship of industry veterans
  • Generous time off, including 26.5 days of annual leave in addition to eight Bank Holidays
  • Assurance of life cover for peace of mind
  • Pension scheme with enhanced contribution
  • Access to private medical insurance for your health care needs
  • A calendar filled with various social gatherings to foster team spirit throughout the year

Location: Central Stamford

Seize the opportunity to become part of our fast-growing studio and enrich your portfolio with hands-on experience on active projects. We invite you to forward your cover letter, CV and a selection of your work to: jobs@urbanedgearchitecture.co.uk for consideration.

NO RECRUITMENT AGENCIES

3 peaks challenge

Urban Edge take on the Three Peaks Challenge

May 28th, 2024 Posted by All, News

At Urban Edge, we are a team who love taking on new challenges and embracing every opportunity for adventure. What better way to embody this spirit than by embarking on the Three Peaks Challenge? On July 10th-11th, our brave team will undertake a 24 hour journey to summit the three tallest mountains in the UK: Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, and Snowdon. Let’s delve into what awaits our team this summer:

Ben Nevis: Scotland’s majestic peak
Our challenge begins in the rugged Scottish Highlands. After a 7 hour road trip, we’ll set foot on Ben Nevis, standing proudly at 1,345 metres. Its steep slopes and ever-changing weather will demand resilience and unwavering dedication from our team.

Scafell Pike: Breathtaking views across the nations
Next, we’ll tackle Scafell Pike, reaching an elevation of 978 metres. As we ascend, breathtaking views and landscapes will unfold, encompassing all four nations of the British Isles. The sense of achievement will be as awe-inspiring as the views.

Snowdon: A final test of endurance
Our ultimate challenge awaits on Snowdon, a 1,085 metre mountain. Here, our hard work and determination will shine. As fatigue sets in, our team will rally together, sharing words of encouragement and pushing through the final stretch as they accomplish all three peaks!

As the clock ticks down to July 10th, we’ve already begun lacing up our hiking boots and starting our training as we embark on the start of this incredible adventure. Stay tuned as we share our commitment to our Three Peaks Challenge via our social media channels. Follow us on this exhilarating journey as we aim to conquer the peaks!

Vacancy - Landscape Architect

Landscape Architect required

May 3rd, 2024 Posted by All, Vacancies

Join Urban Edge Architecture, a visionary multidisciplinary firm, where we shape vibrant spaces for living, working and leisure. Our central Stamford and Nottingham studios are hubs of innovation, hosting a diverse portfolio of residential, commercial, and later living projects, alongside prestigious historic landscape restorations.

Position: Landscape Architect

Location: Central Stamford/Nottingham (flexible project-based travel)

Role overview: As a Landscape Architect at Urban Edge, you will be an integral part of our design team, bringing to life projects that blend aesthetics with functionality, and sustainability with innovation. Your expertise in landscape design will contribute to our ethos of creating places that resonate with people and nature alike.

Ideal candidate:

  • Adept in landscape design with a flair for creativity and technical precision
  • A champion of environmental sustainability, driven by the impact of thoughtful landscape architecture on community well-being
  • Thrives in both collaborative settings and independent roles
  • Holds a degree in Landscape Architecture and brings a few years of relevant experience
  • Aspiring to achieve Chartered status, with our full support

Key responsibilities:

  • Engage with clients to translate their vision into tangible designs within budget
  • Craft masterplans, detailed drawings and innovative design concepts
  • Perform thorough site evaluations to inform design decisions
  • Curate plant selections and sustainable materials to complement each project
  • Remain abreast of the latest industry developments and compliance standards

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture
  • Proven experience in landscape design and project oversight
  • Proficient in AutoCAD, Adobe Creative Suite and MS Office suite

Skills:

  • Exceptional organisational and time management capabilities
  • Strong problem-solving skills with an eye for detail

Benefits:

  • A competitive salary with avenues for professional growth
  • Complimentary gym membership
  • Opportunity to work on a variety of projects under expert guidance
  • An inclusive, dynamic work environment that fosters creativity and innovation
  • 26.5 days annual leave plus eight Bank Holidays
  • Life cover
  • Private medical insurance
  • Various social events throughout the year.

Embark on a career that marries your passion for design with our commitment to creating meaningful spaces. Apply now to become a part of the Urban Edge legacy, where every project is a step towards a more beautiful, functional and sustainable future. To apply please email your CV to: jobs@urbanedgearchitecture.co.uk outlining what you would bring to the role. 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 the expiry date.

NO RECRUITMENT AGENCIES

Vacancy - Experienced Architect/Senior Technologist

Experienced Architect/Senior Technologist (Project Lead) required

May 3rd, 2024 Posted by All, Vacancies

We are currently seeking talented individuals to join our studio based in the heart of Stamford, Lincolnshire. We work predominantly within the later living, industrial, multi-residential, retail and leisure sectors with project values up to £40m.

We are seeking to expand our workforce to match our increasing workload and are looking for an experienced Architect/Senior Technologist with a proven track record using Revit to join our team. The ideal person will have the right mix of experience, knowledge and technical ability and a proven track record leading a team.

Key responsibilities:

  • Undertake complex projects, manage and lead a team
  • Prepare, manage and review project documents including drawings and specifications
  • Liaise directly with clients and represent Urban Edge in the public forum
  • Manage a team working in both REVIT and AutoCAD
  • Prepare and monitor project programming and costing parameters

Skills and experience:

  • Minimum of 5 years post graduate practical experience in the UK
  • Fluency in REVIT and AutoCAD
  • Highly organised
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

What we offer:

We provide the opportunity to work alongside an enthusiastic and friendly team and the ideal environment to continue your professional development. At Urban Edge, we are dedicated to our people and offer an extensive benefits package. In return for your hard work you can expect to receive:

  • A competitive salary
  • Company pension scheme
  • Company bonus scheme
  • Gym membership
  • Private medical insurance
  • Life cover

Location: Central Stamford/Nottingham (flexible project-based travel)

To apply please email your CV to: jobs@urbanedgearchitecture.co.uk outlining what you would bring to the role. 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 the expiry date.

NO RECRUITMENT AGENCIES

Town Centre EV Infrastructure

Charging forward: Innovative solutions for the delivery of town centre EV infrastructure

October 16th, 2023 Posted by All, Sustainability

With just twelve years to go before the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, local councils are under tremendous pressure to deliver the much-needed town centre ev infrastructure for the electric vehicles that will replace them. However, creative regeneration strategies can offer win-win solutions for local authorities: unlocking the future prosperity of town centres whilst also creating opportunity to meet EV charging targets.

With a greater range of vehicles on the market and a looming Government ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2035, the UK’s electric vehicle (EV) market is booming. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reveals almost 22,000 electric vehicles were registered in November 2021, more than double the 10,345 registered in the same month the previous year.

However, the EV revolution could soon find itself veering off course as the availability of public charging infrastructure struggles to keep pace with demand. Local authorities, in particular, will need to play a key role in the delivery of this infrastructure, yet a report by the Local Government Association points to a ‘lack of coherent strategic direction’ on what and where to build. It says that many local authorities feel that they lack the appropriate skills and data to make investment decisions in what is seen as a fast-paced and evolving technological landscape.

At the same time, local authorities are already stretched dealing with the decline of their town centres and the long-term socio-economic impacts of the pandemic on their communities. However, as our work for local authorities in areas such as Lincolnshire proves, creative regeneration strategies can deliver on all fronts, unlocking investment, growth and the future prosperity of our town centres whilst also creating opportunity to meet EV charging targets.

In particular, we were recently appointed to design a scheme in rural Lincolnshire that could have a profound impact on the way local authorities reinvigorate their town centres and deliver much needed EV charging infrastructure at the same time. If successful, the LEP will use the scheme as a benchmark for others to follow in the region.

Taking its inspiration from a German concept trialled back in 2003 called Mobihub, our scheme sees a concentration of community and business activities integrated within an easily accessible transport interchange and will help meet the town’s challenges of an ageing population, low incomes, limited services and poor outward connectivity. In conceiving the design, we considered the future local needs of the town, with a dense collection of public and sustainable transport uses such as buses, a taxi rank, rental vehicles, car-share clubs and EV charging points, alongside small retail kiosks, offices, parcel storage/pick-up, and health service elements.

Designed to be as accessible and welcoming as possible, with plenty of green space and interlinked pedestrian walkways, the scheme can become an attraction in its own right; a place to go to as a shared workspace or to pick-up a parcel, meet friends for coffee and whilst you’re doing all those things, a place to charge your electric vehicle – whether that be car, van, e-bike or scooter.

Importantly, our concept can be scaled to the setting and its multiple uses designed to respond to local need. On larger sites for example, alongside an array of EV charging points, we could offer spaces for F&B pod units and co-working facilities. The mix and type of uses that are put side by side need to be well considered and, as with the scheme in Lincolnshire, uses should be closely linked to – rather than competing with – other projects in the town to deliver holistic local centre regeneration.

It is also solution that can go some way to addressing inequalities in transport and EV charging provision. Whilst the majority of current electric car owners have access to off-street parking, around 6.6 million households do not and will need to rely on a public-charging network.

Locating these chargers is often a headache for local councils, who are already under pressure to install more bus and cycle lanes on limited road space, let alone chargepoint infrastructure. On-street charging can also give rise to civic disputes about car parking space, chargers creating street clutter and making pavements difficult to navigate. It would make far more sense to site EV chargers in a dedicated, easily accessible location that promotes multiple transport modes and other socio-economic activity.

Utilising underused or brownfield town centre sites to create these hubs, as we are doing in Lincolnshire, would be the perfect solution for local authorities, allowing them to clean up the town’s infrastructure, integrate chargers with wider transport plans and create a destination that can bring footfall back into parts of the centre. Further, with the Local Government Association warning that demand for operators is now outstripping supply and that ‘chargepoint operators (are) cherry-picking the best locations’, our idea of a transport-hub style solution, with its mix of transport, community and business uses, can create a critical mass of users to make the location commercially attractive and help local authorities secure charge point operators and electric mobility service providers.

With now less than twelve years to go before the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, it is clear that a massive task lies ahead to ensure the move towards e-mobility is a success. Whilst this move will require a huge investment by local authorities in land and infrastructure, embedding that investment within the context of town centre regeneration presents new opportunities for commercial and community enterprise alongside a balanced, healthy and sustainable transport mix that meets the current and future needs of communities.

Team Members Promoted to Senior Positions

Four team members promoted to senior positions within Urban Edge

September 20th, 2023 Posted by All, News

We are delighted to announce that four of our talented and dedicated team members have been promoted to senior positions within our architectural practice. These promotions reflect their outstanding contributions to our projects, clients, and culture, as well as their leadership and vision for the future of our practice.

Please join us in congratulating:

Dave Frost, who has been promoted to Director. Having joined us in 2008 in our formative years, Dave has grown along with the practice, closely managing a team of like-minded creative and technical staff. He has an endless passion for contemporary design along with a keen interest in sustainable architecture and construction. Dave has also presented at several conferences and webinars on topics such as sustainability and more recently retail repurposing and has shared his expertise on introducing drive-through restaurants to existing retail parks to help owners maximise the value of their assets.

Dave said: “I am extremely grateful and honoured to be promoted to Director at Urban Edge. Throughout my 15 years at the practice the Directors and my fellow colleagues have mentored me and supported my growth within the business. I am very excited to be taking on my new role and I will continue to ensure that our clients receive the best possible level of service, alongside mentoring the strong pool of talent that we have within the practice so that they too can meet their own career aspirations.”

Alexandros Marcoulides, who has been promoted to Senior Associate Director. Alex joined us in 2013 as an Architect, having previously worked at renowned London practices including John McAslan + Partners, Allies and Morrison and Zaha Hadid Architects. He has successfully managed complex and challenging projects across various sectors, such as Caledonia Park, Gretna, Ampfield Meadows Retirement Community and Purley Way, Croydon. Alex is a highly skilled and reliable member of the team who ensures quality and efficiency throughout the project lifecycle.

Alex said: “I would like to thank the Directors for my recent promotion and look forward to the new challenges and opportunities this new role presents. I am very excited to work closely with the team and will endeavour to continue making a positive impact within Urban Edge. Additionally, I’d like to say a further big thank you to my colleagues and clients who have helped and supported me on this journey.”

Ben Doherty, who has been promoted to Senior Associate Director. Ben joined us in 2021 as an Associate Director and has impressed us with his strong technical capabilities and keen attention to architectural detailing. He has previously worked on the design and delivery of high-end multi-residential schemes, such as the much-heralded 178 apartment Connor building located in Sydney’s Central Park and The Frederick, a 26-storey tower in Sydney’s Green Square. Ben is passionate about the user experience and identity of every new space he creates.

Ben said: “I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to the Directors for my recent promotion to Senior Associate Director. I am honoured to have been given this opportunity and I am excited to continue contributing to the success of our practice. I would also like to thank the members of the architectural and graphics teams for your continued support, guidance, and encouragement. Your expertise and hard work have been invaluable. I look forward to continuing to work with you all in my new role and I assure you that I will do everything in my power to exceed expectations.”

Wioleta Bychawska, who has been promoted to Associate. Wioleta joined us in 2014 as a Designer and has demonstrated her ability and creativity in designing sustainable and attractive buildings. She has previously worked on several of our residential schemes and is responsible for creating the sensitively designed retirement communities at Caddington, Dore and Sonning Common on behalf of Inspired Villages. Wioleta also has substantial experience of conceptual and detailed design in the retail sector gained working on projects such as Nando’s striking ‘eco-restaurant’ in Cambridge, a new-build 160,000 sq.ft retail development in Chelmsford and a series of initiatives at Monks Cross Shopping Park in York.

Wioleta said: “Thank you to the Directors for recognising my hard work and believing I was ready to take on a new role and more responsibility. I am eager to get started and I feel extremely motivated and encouraged by their support. I cannot wait to learn more about my new role in this amazing team.”

We are immensely proud of these four team members and their achievements, and we look forward to their continued growth and success within our practice. We are confident that they will help us continue to deliver exceptional design solutions for our clients and help drive our business forwards. Please join us in celebrating their promotions!

Pictured from left to right: Alexandros Marcoulides, Wioleta Bychawska, Ben Doherty, Dave Frost.

Spotlight on Lucy Pepper

Spotlight on Lucy Pepper

September 13th, 2023 Posted by All, News

During the summer of 2023 we had student Lucy Pepper join us for a week’s insight into the architectural industry and life at Urban Edge. Over the course of the week, Lucy spent time with different members of staff from around the office to understand the different stages within architecture and to see how all their work comes together to create the final result.

A few weeks later we brought Lucy in for a follow-up meeting to offer her portfolio and career advice before she went into her final year at university. Here’s what Lucy thought about her experience:

“As a Part 1 Architecture student, I was looking for the opportunity to undertake some in-practice experience during my studies. Urban Edge offered me a few days earlier this summer to understand the inner workings of an architectural practice.

My time there involved meeting many members of the team, appreciating their specialised roles within the design process and their respective career backgrounds. Not only did I learn how the practice operates, but I was also given the opportunity to play around with new software and learn skills I can now apply back at university.

The Urban Edge team were such a supportive and accommodating group of people who made me feel instantly welcome. What’s more, they were always invested in helping me with the skills I wanted to improve on.

While my university education is crucial for my future career, the industry experience I gained at Urban Edge has proven fundamental too.”

Spotlight on Lucy Pepper caption
Spotlight on Charlotte Hall

Spotlight on Charlotte Hall

March 7th, 2023 Posted by All, News

International Women’s Day is a day to reflect, embrace and celebrate women around the world. As part of International Women’s Day, we would like to celebrate and showcase some of the women in our office and their creative talents. This week we caught up with Charlotte Hall, a very talented Architectural Assistant who is currently on her university placement with us. Charlotte has gone from strength-to-strength since starting her BArch (Hons) Architecture at Loughborough University. She specialises in the art of CGIs and 3D rendering and recently received the Year 2 Best 3D Visualisation Award.

What made you choose Urban Edge as the company you would like to go on placement with?
“I was interested in Urban Edge as they work on a variety of projects in a variety of sectors so I would and have been able to gain a broad spectrum of knowledge. This has enabled me to distinguish what areas I enjoy the most and where I need further skill development to achieve my professional goals.”

What are your day-to-day responsibilities within Urban Edge?
“I typically work on modelling existing buildings in SketchUp based off 2D CAD plans, designing public spaces and rendering proposed design options in Enscape to submit to the client for review. I am also involved in feasibility studies where I have been able to explore my creative ideas at a professional level by producing a multitude of different design options for projects. I get the chance to work with the whole team every day simply by being involved in so many projects simultaneously! This has enabled me to gain a broad spectrum of knowledge by learning from each of my colleagues.”

What have you learnt so far whilst being with Urban Edge?
“I have learnt new software, the process of work and how to communicate ideas to clients effectively and clearly through observing meetings. I have also gained an understanding of how to communicate a concept via sketches, renders, drawings, and presentations by having an involvement in a variety of projects in different sectors and being able to see how this differs from sector to sector.”

What has been your favourite project to work on and why?
“I recently worked on a project to design a public square which I found really enjoyable because I love creating spaces where communities can come together and enhance neighbourhood relationships through design.”

How has working on live projects improved your practice and knowledge within the industry?
“Working on live projects has allowed me to be exposed to multiple stages of work and begin to understand the role of the Architect vs the contractor and others involved, as well as how they collaborate together.”

Has this placement given you opportunities to meet your learning goals?
“Definitely! I have been exposed to new software that I have had to pick up quickly which will be beneficial when I return for my final year at university as I will be able to utilise a greater range of techniques to communicate my designs. I have also been exposed to client meetings which has enabled me to observe first-hand the level of professionalism that the Architect must achieve when conversing with clients.”

Spotlight on Charlotte Hall

Has this placement helped you to decide if this is the type of work that you wish to pursue?
“Yes, architecture in practice is a lot different to architecture at university so being exposed to live projects has helped me to understand the reality of being an Architect. It has solidified my career path as I now know how much I enjoy working with others in a practice to achieve and exceed the client’s vision.”

What specific knowledge have you learnt or enhanced during this placement?
“I have been able to gain an insight of what is required for each of the RIBA stages of work, helping me understand what is required within an Architect’s role. I have been mostly working in Stages 1-3 so I have an in-depth understanding of what is required within the concept, feasibility and planning stages by being involved in concept design but also the submission of planning applications. I have had the opportunity to be involved in client meetings where I have been able to observe how to communicate an idea clearly to a client which will be a very useful skill to take back to university.”

What practical skills have you applied or further developed during this placement?
“I have been able to develop my 3D rendering skills by using Enscape to produce realistic and well-composed images. I really enjoy utilising this skill as it showcases the full potential of the design to the client and I have found it very rewarding training others in this software, helping them progress with their own professional development whilst moving forward with my own.”

Are there any Architects that have inspired you?
“Daniel Libeskind has inspired me through his ability to celebrate both tradition and innovation particularly in his design for the Royal Ontario Museum which uses the juxtaposition of the old and the new to enhance each other’s features, creating a luminous beacon of tourism.”

What has been your favourite memory so far at Urban Edge?
“The Christmas party is my favourite memory so far as playing Taskmaster was a great team building exercise and it was very enjoyable seeing a different side to everyone, getting to know them outside of the office.”

Is there any advice you would give to future students on placement?
“Throw yourself into the work and get involved in office discussions to make the most out of your experience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and approach work colleagues for advice, they all want to help you and are there for your support.”

  • Spotlight on Charlotte Hall
  • Spotlight on Charlotte Hall
  • Spotlight on Charlotte Hall
  • Spotlight on Charlotte Hall
  • Spotlight on Charlotte Hall
  • Spotlight on Charlotte Hall
Charting a Course Through ISO 14001

Charting a course through ISO 14001

February 9th, 2023 Posted by All, News, Sustainability

Last year, we were thrilled to announce that we had been awarded certification for ISO 14001:2015, the international standard for designing and implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS). This achievement was especially important to us, as sustainability has always been at the heart of our business strategy and fully supports our goal to be a net-zero carbon business in line with Government targets.

At first, the process of gaining ISO 14001 can appear to be a daunting task; the design and implementation of an EMS requires extensive documentation, careful decision making and a considerable time allocation. Fortunately, we had already made a number of key decisions to limit our environmental impact and our prior experience working towards ISO 9001 accreditation for Quality Management had prepared us for the types of processes involved. Nonetheless, the guidance and recommendations provided by the ISO-approved assessor were invaluable.

Creating an Aspect and Impact Register is a crucial part of the ISO 14001:2015 process, identifying environmental impacts and efficiencies created by business activities. By listing all the activities included within the scope of our EMS, we were able to evaluate the significance of each one and consider which we should prioritise and how we might tackle them.

One of our biggest early decisions was to switch energy providers, moving to 100% renewable provision with Corona Energy. Another area we quickly looked at was our office waste streaming. Whilst our main waste collection was already streamed, we decided to be more ambitious with the waste directly inside our studio as well. We have introduced battery and pen recycling and are donating coffee grounds to local allotments. Alongside this, we’re recycling our printer toner and looking to make paper resources go further by reusing as much as we can internally.

Architectural Assistant, Adam Caffrey, who has been instrumental in pushing the practice towards the achievement of ISO 14001 certification, said: “Our sustainability team meet regularly to share ideas and we have lots of things planned for the coming year. It’s been a great start so far and we’ve already implemented some quick wins – but some of these ‘quick wins’ can actually make a big difference. For instance, the change of bins in the studio, which now separates waste, makes you more aware about what can and can’t be recycled.” 

Lydia Coupe, HR and Office Administrator, added: “We’ve approached changes in the office in the best possible way, by making small changes that have a regular impact on improving our environment. For example, we have replaced the existing toilets with dual-flushing systems to reduce our water usage. We also found a free resource to recycle batteries which has proved to be super useful, not only in the office but with colleagues bringing in batteries from home, especially so after the Christmas break. Batteries are often incorrectly thrown into the general waste, which can prove to be dangerous causing fires. It’s a real no brainer, and helps on all levels.”

In the meantime, we have been assessing our current direct and indirect emissions in accordance with Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) requirements to better understand our overall carbon footprint. This not only has benefits for the environment, but can help futureproof us as a business, potentially allowing us to create efficiencies and reduce costs, prepare for future regulations and better meet the procurement demands of clients, who will increasingly require transparent emissions data.

Not only do we now better understand our overall carbon footprint (including an average total per staff member), but in assessing the emissions from different business activities, we can set reduction targets across different areas of our business for the coming financial year. In particular, we want to see a reduction in our electricity and gas usage, as well as water consumption, and evaluate sustainable options for business travel.

We are also committed to strengthening environmental considerations in our design processes, improving staff knowledge with continuing professional development. Last year, for example, members of the team took part in a series of lectures at the University of Lincoln to learn about the latest research into BREEAM and Passivhaus, as well as the whole-life impact of a building.

Director, Tom McNamara, said: “Whilst looking to reduce our carbon footprint is a key objective for us, the influence we can have on our environment as designers is fundamental to our core values. We found the process of working towards ISO 14001 accreditation very enlightening and it made us think hard around challenging further our environmental standards.”

Our industrial and logistics portfolio continues to grow as sector buzzes with activity

Our industrial and logistics portfolio continues to grow as sector buzzes with activity

January 12th, 2023 Posted by All, Industrial, News

Despite the turbulence of the last few years, the industrial and logistics property class has continued to defy the prevailing winds, with take-up figures for the end of last year predicted to match or even surpass the records set by 2021. That 2022 proved to be another record-breaking year for industrial and logistics property is no surprise to us here at Urban Edge, given the volume of enquiries we received from the sector and the number of schemes we have running through planning or on site. Our own projections for the sector into this new year and beyond remain incredibly positive, with a growing number of significant schemes currently on our drawing boards and new enquiries proceeding at pace.

Demand continues to come from a wide range of developers and occupiers, and our current projects cover the spectrum of the industrial sector – from a new 100,000 sq.ft distribution warehouse on the Erdington Industrial Estate in Birmingham, to a multi-million-pound landmark HGV workshop in West Thurrock and two self-storage units in both Skelmersdale and Corby for the Storage Team. We are currently on site at Quarry Wood Industrial Estate overseeing the refurbishment and reconfiguration of light industrial units to meet the current requirements of modern occupiers and support the site’s continued viability as an industrial park. Last year also saw us complete on the redevelopment of a former factory site in Croydon to provide a high-quality Class B development to meet the demands of modern industrial operators

This is on top of numerous projects at feasibility stage in locations as far ranging as the Republic of Ireland, Berkshire, Somerset, East London – within the all-important M25 network – and a zero-carbon industrial scheme on the south coast.

Interestingly, we have seen a rising demand for schemes that better meet Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) benchmarks over the last 12 to 18 months. Our experience designing and delivering net-zero schemes in both this and other sectors has seen us receive a number of enquiries from industrial and logistics owners, developers and operators looking to improve the sustainability of their schemes or to design and deliver net-zero buildings.

Our design for the distribution warehouse on the Erdington Industrial Estate in Birmingham, for example, proposes a number of interventions and initiatives to improve energy performance, reduce air pollution and improve local air quality. Likewise, we were instructed to design and deliver to net-zero a high-quality Class B development of light industrial units on a former factory site in Croydon which achieved BREEAM Excellent and net-zero carbon.

With rising energy costs and impending energy-efficiency legislation exerting yet more pressure on the sector, we expect to see sustainability and net-zero criteria continuing to dominate the agenda and it’s an issue that we recommend clients get to grips with as early as possible. So, too, do we anticipate a growing focus on health and wellbeing provision for occupiers as they compete to attract and retain key personnel. Creating enhanced facilities for staff was a major consideration for a scheme we looked at in the north west recently and included external spaces such as nature walks, running tracks and picnic areas on the perimeter of the site as part of the client’s health and wellbeing agenda.

Our extensive experience in opening up opportunities for asset creation on sometimes challenging sites has seen us deliver a number of high-quality, highly optimised schemes. This is especially important in areas of high demand where availability and cost of land will continue to see a push for the intensification of industrial and logistics buildings, with many developers looking to maximise the opportunities for their sites, even exploring multi-level, multi-use options.

We also perceive that there are fantastic opportunities to re-use and refurbish existing buildings, as proved by our ongoing work at Quarry Wood Industrial Park to reconfigure a number of post-War buildings, largely asbestos clad, to provide light industrial units that can meet modern users’ requirements. As architects and landscape design specialists, we also have a critical role to play in better integrating industrial and logistics development into local communities, mitigating the impact of vehicle movements and making it easy to navigate around schemes.

Dave Frost, Senior Associate Director says: “As evidenced by our own workload and the number of enquiries we have received, the pace of development in the industrial and logistics sector, particularly in the prime south east market and the area around the M25, shows no sign of slowing. Importantly, it is also one of the fastest growing areas of employment in the UK, it’s dynamism offering significant job creation and progression opportunities in all areas of the country.

“However, in an increasingly competitive market, owners, developers and operators require early engagement with experienced architects to maximise the opportunities of their sites at all stages of design and all the way through to a building’s operation. With our growing portfolio of industrial and logistics schemes, we are uniquely positioned to meet the key requirements of clients in the sector, utilising our knowledge and technical know-how to design deliverable schemes that create real commercial value, whilst also ensuring positive environmental, social and economic impact.”

Plans approved for bespoke vehicle repair workshop in West Thurrock

January 3rd, 2023 Posted by All, Industrial, News

Following the submittal of plans to Thurrock Council for a multi-million pound modern landmark workshop in West Thurrock for Spectrum VR, a leader in the maintenance and repair of commercial vehicle body shells, we received a successful planning approval on the 21st December 2022. Our proposal will replace the existing HGV service and repair workshop on the site with a new 1,726 sq.m 7-bay purpose-built facility to accommodate Spectrum VR’s expanding operations and offer them a more visible presence on a busy intersection within the London commuter belt.

We worked with multi-sector specialist contractor, Thomas Sinden, to develop an initial feasibility concept, rationalising the layouts and ensuring the spaces were the best options for the required functions. The main workshop will contain a paint centre with bespoke specialist equipment installations, including a paint oven, for the repair and painting of vehicles. An attached two storey office block will house day-to-day operations, seminar and training rooms, as well as wellness spaces for Spectrum VR staff. The plans will also enhance the landscape buffer separating the service yard from a busy roundabout as well as creating outdoor amenity spaces for staff.

Project Lead, Robert Major, explains: “The building is a bespoke industrial development with specific requirements in the workshop and office space elements, both requiring a good understanding of the client’s operational requirements and technical processes. We were appointed to this project, our first for Thomas Sinden, on a recommendation from a long-standing client who recognised our skill and ability to deliver complex schemes in this sector precisely to the client’s needs. We look forward to continuing onwards with the detailed design and delivery of the project.”

The proposed unit will be contemporary in design, using light grey cladding, contrasted with dark grey windows and sections of feature brickwork on key corners. The workshop bays are defined with half-height brick and contrasting cladding colours between bays. The main entrance to the office is marked with double-height corner glazing, adding definition as well as natural light to the public-facing workspace. A dark grey feature surrounding the glazing and main entrance doors further identifies the main entrance, particularly for visitors.

The project proposes an energy efficient external envelope with high thermal performance and a high air tightness rating. The energy strategy focuses on renewable energy, with the roof space maximised to accommodate a high number of PV panels. The overall development is aiming to be highly energy efficient, which is a key consideration for the client in looking to reduce their ongoing operational costs.

Plans submitted for new retirement community in Dore, Sheffield

Plans submitted for new retirement community in Dore, Sheffield

December 12th, 2022 Posted by All, News, Senior Living

Long-standing client, Inspired Villages, have submitted plans for an Urban Edge designed 125-unit integrated retirement community on the western edge of the village of Dore, Sheffield, close to the edge of the Peak District. It is the latest in a series of successful scheme designs on behalf of Inspired Villages as we continue to assist in driving their development pipeline forwards, whilst building further on our strong track record of creating deliverable later living projects through carefully considered design.

The proposal seeks to redevelop the former Dore Moor Garden Centre to create an integrated retirement community that provides accommodation for the over 65s. Given the site’s location on the periphery of Dore and its close association with the Peak District, our design for the village necessitated a visual identity that is consistent and integrates wholly into its surroundings. This will help to strengthen the site’s response to its context and assist in embedding the proposed development within the milieu of the local village and surrounding landscape.

There are three main types of building found within the scheme, the Village Centre, the Village Apartment buildings and the cottages. A common architectural language has been developed that can be found across all three types and which takes cues from the design principles found within Dore and the wider Peak District. Key materials, such as stone, have been used sparingly, applied to the main façades of key buildings or in locations where elements of buildings terminate key vistas. To the rear of buildings and in areas where façades are less visible, this is replaced by buff brickwork.

Due to the site’s location, Inspired Villages identified a need for additional parking for residents, staff and visitors. Although a constrained site, our masterplan ingeniously seeks to maximise its potential by taking advantage of the substantial level changes, with the Village Centre being reconfigured to provide a level of undercroft parking at its base to accommodate the required number of parking spaces.

Darren Hodgson, Senior Associate Director, says: “We are delighted to have submitted this proposal on behalf of Inspired Villages for what will be a stunning integrated retirement community on the edge of the Peak District. We have conceived a contemporary interpretation of the architectural language and material palette of the Peak District and historic core of the village of Dore to ensure our design proposals are as robust as possible and integrated into the environment. It is our view that this is a well-considered masterplan that makes the most of the site and meets the high demand for older person’s housing within the area. We very much look forward to seeing the scheme delivered.”

In keeping with all Inspired Villages schemes, the proposals for Dore target net-zero carbon (regulated energy) and will feature a hybrid renewable energy solution utilising photovoltaic panels, ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps, in conjunction with careful consideration of the thermal performance of the building fabric. Endeavouring to exceed current Building Regulation Part L 2022 requirements for the levels of insulation and air tightness, the proposed development will incorporate a range of energy-efficient measures such as the installation of high-performance glazing and energy-efficient lighting.

Darren concludes: “As an ISO 14001 accredited business, sustainability is at the heart of our business strategy and forms a part of our everyday thinking, including the design solutions we deliver for clients. It is a privilege to work with forward-thinking clients such as Inspired Villages, who encourage the principles of sustainable design on all of their schemes, including the proposals at Dore and at Millfield Green in Caddington where we continue the delivery onsite of the UK’s first net-zero carbon (regulated energy) integrated retirement community.”

Urban Edge awarded ISO 14001 certification

September 30th, 2022 Posted by All, News, Sustainability

We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded certification for ISO 14001:2015, the international standard for designing and implementing an Environmental  Management System (EMS). Alongside our ISO 9001:2015 accreditation for Quality Management, ISO 14001 accreditation continues our longstanding commitment to reducing our impact on the environment, improving our operational processes and providing the highest quality of service for clients.

Sustainability has always been at the heart of our business strategy and forms a part of our everyday thinking, both in our business operations and the design solutions we deliver for clients. In recent years, we have helped Nando’s design and deliver its first ever 100% eco-friendly restaurant in Cambridge, are working with Inspired Villages to deliver the UK’s first net-zero retirement community in Bedfordshire and have recently completed a BREEAM Excellent industrial scheme for Aberdeen Standard Investments in Croydon.

Adopting ISO 14001 means we will continue to measure and reduce our environmental impact and fully supports our goal to be a net-zero carbon business by 2030.

Director, Tom McNamara, says: “We have held regular Sustainability Group meetings to discuss the practice’s environmental responsibilities for some considerable time and had already implemented a number of processes and measures to improve our environmental performance. Our decision to work towards ISO 14001 accreditation has more clearly defined some of that activity and ensures we now have robust environmental management systems throughout every aspect of the business.

“It’s important that we work together as an industry to limit the impact of our activities on the planet and  we have been privileged to work with many forward-thinking clients who are themselves on the same journey towards net-zero carbon. Our ISO 14001 accreditation is further reassurance that we can consistently meet the rigorous requirements of our clients as we all work towards the same goal.”

As part of the ISO 14001 process we have developed a framework for establishing and reviewing the practice’s environmental targets and objectives, all of which will be embedded at a strategic level. Key objectives include promoting the health and wellbeing of staff, promoting environmental and sustainability policies internally and evaluating sustainable options for business travel. We are also looking to expand our existing recycling measures, as well as ways to reduce water consumption and energy use and have recently switched energy providers, moving to 100% renewable provision with Corona Energy.

We are also committed to strengthening environmental considerations in our design processes, improving staff knowledge with continuing professional development. Earlier this year, for example, members of the team took part in a series of lectures at the University of Lincoln to learn about the latest research into BREEAM and Passivhaus, as well as the whole-life impact of a building.

Tom concludes: “Whilst achieving ISO 14001 certification can present many challenges, we have been particularly delighted by the enthusiasm from all members of staff and, in particular, we would like to thank Adam Caffrey who was instrumental in pushing this forward. Actively reducing our carbon footprint is very important to everybody at Urban Edge, both in terms of our day-to-day operations and in the legacy we leave through the design of our projects.”

Regeneration partnerships: Perspective and vision

September 14th, 2022 Posted by News

As we look to build back better from the effects of the global pandemic, many Local Authorities find themselves in the unenviable position of having to balance the provision of core services whilst delivering the essential housing, facilities and infrastructure that can secure growth and recovery for their towns and cities.

Regeneration schemes need to be implemented as part of a holistic approach, taking into account both social and economic needs. Assembling the right ingredients for these schemes presents a layer of complexity that can be difficult for either public or private organisations to resolve alone. By pooling together the powers, resources, management skills and technical know-how of both sectors, public-private partnerships offer the potential for a genuine focus on local priorities, especially in terms of the end users.

In some cases, longer term partnerships can enable broader measures for successful regeneration to take place as seen in the case of the large-scale and visionary involvement of Argent within the Kings Cross Development. Smaller regional initiatives can also benefit greatly from such long-term partnerships if structured properly.

Arguably, the need for essential housing, facilities and infrastructure is even more pressing in smaller towns and communities if we are to deliver on the ‘levelling up’ agenda. However, Local Authorities in these regions have often not built facilities and infrastructure for decades and will lack teams with enough experience or technical resource to deliver complex regeneration schemes.

As I argued in my previous piece, Regeneration: Perspective and Vision’, this presents opportunities for the private sector to step in and work collaboratively with the public sector, using our expertise and knowledge to deliver quality and successful projects, with placemaking at their heart. That same knowledge could also be used to identify opportunities within the public estate and increase the volume of Local Authority sites being brought forward.

We know that collaborative working can be successful, as our work with Local Authorities on the Government’s Towns Fund initiative has proven. The Towns Fund requires councils to work collaboratively with the private sector and Urban Edge has been involved in drafting up a number of ambitious proposals with Local Authorities, in particular working in close collaboration with Boston District Council where we have been given the opportunity to implement some of our regeneration ideas in line with the council’s forward-thinking vision on a number of strategic sites within the town centre.

However, as we have experienced on projects elsewhere, public-private partnerships can be complex and challenging, even for seemingly simple initiatives. Early engagement and preparation, insight and management are therefore key to successfully bring together the resources, expertise and powers of both sectors.

A structured and carefully controlled process needs to be put in place for these partnerships to be able to succeed and we would make the following core recommendations:

Set the vision from the outset

A robust vision will allow for the long-term relationship to endure through any economic and political changes that may occur over the course of the project. Early engagement with an experienced design team allows for the exploration of ideas and options available. This can ensure unviable options are eliminated from the outset and will avoid costly delays further down the line. On a number of occasions, we have found that, having undertaken initial feasibility studies, we have been able use our skill and experience to unlock sites which were previously deemed undevelopable thus opening up new avenues and opportunities for the Local Authority to explore. In turn, this can allow for early engagement with relevant stakeholders and help avoid potential parcel price uplifts or ransom strips.

Create a comprehensive brief

The crucial elements and boundaries of projects should be fixed from the outset. However, it is our view that an element of flexibility needs to be built into the overarching concept to allow for immediate solutions further in the process should, for example, the socio-economic landscape change or unforeseen opportunities arise such as technological advances. As architects and masterplanners, we have always allowed for and built in an element of flexibility within our proposals, both spatially and functionally in relation to the programme.

Set out the contractual type of any partnership options available

There is no fixed option available and each project will have its own specific requirements and complications, whether the partnership is contractual, corporate, investment or collaborative. As such, each variety of structure needs to be investigated and considered with thorough analysis of the pros and cons of each option.

Undertake studies on the timing and viability of the proposals

The project’s route to market needs to be tested. A series of more detailed and developed options of the proposals will be created by the Design and Management Team in the form of feasibility studies and costings which will allow for a soft market test. This will give the Local Authority, and partnership as a whole, the confidence to commit and move forward. This stage is also important for non-binding dialogue, which will shape the proposals and allow for certain elements to be reconsidered and reevaluated before a formal appointment process begins. This in turn will successfully shape the partnership and ensure fundability.

Make a meaningful start

Making a strong start is important and will set the template for success and pace of delivery. We would suggest agreeing and committing to a ‘first 100 days plan’, setting out a detailed work programme for all parties involved and defining their roles within it.

Management of the partnership whilst works are progressing

Maintaining the momentum set in the initial stages of the project can often be the most challenging aspect of public-private partnerships. However, agreeing to and setting out a series of actions such as a continuous review and revision of KPIs and targets, as well as lessons learned, will help keep the project on track and allow for better outcomes.

Commit to and see the process through to the end

Develop a Continuity and Communications Plan explaining the end of the partnership to ensure that there are no disruptions to services or benefits to the public or other key stakeholders.

A version of this article previously appeared in LocalGov in July 2022.

Alexandros Marcoulides | Associate Director

Plans submitted for visitor destination and education centre within the grounds of historic Harlaxton Manor

September 8th, 2022 Posted by News

We have submitted a planning application to South Kesteven District Council on behalf of Harlaxton College for the restoration of the disused Walled Garden at the historic Harlaxton Manor, near Grantham, to create a stunning and sustainable visitor attraction and educational experience.

As Landscape Architect and Project Lead, we worked in close collaboration with Harlaxton College to create a masterplan for the 56.65ha site and a detailed landscape design focused around the historic Grade II* Listed Walled Garden, which will not only restore the historic fabric, but recreate the original productive function of the garden and introduce opportunities for education and participation. The proposals have been submitted following extensive engagement with stakeholders and with representatives of the community and officers of South Kesteven District Council, Historic England and Lincolnshire County Council.

Andrew Cottage, Head of Landscape Design said: “This is an exceptional project in which we have applied our landscape design skills and understanding of the historic environment to deliver a practical and beautiful scheme that will meet the needs of the College and satisfy the requirements of Historic England and the planning authority. On completion the public will have access to assets of heritage significance which have previously been inaccessible to visitors helping them to understand, appreciate and interpret the past.”

The Walled Garden will be made fully accessible and will be arranged around a series of axial vistas dividing the area into a series of garden rooms, each with a different character. Some areas will focus on the historic roots of the garden, emphasising the production of fruit, vegetables, herbs and cut flowers, with others being themed with specialist planting, such as four seasons, medicinal and sensory gardens. Tall hedges aligned with the axial paths will introduce a sense of intrigue and drama by not allowing the whole garden rooms to be seen at once and will create a sense of arrival in to the next character area.

The scheme includes associated visitor infrastructure such as a new car park; footpath network and play area, whilst a large lawn will create a flexible space for informal gatherings and more formal events such as performances and parties. The listed Gardener’s House is being restored and converted by HP Architects into a new café, visitor facilities and education centre. The two historic vineries will be sensitively replaced and will serve as a café seating area with splendid views across the gardens and an education centre.

Despite the challenges of working with heritage assets, sustainability was a key focus of the design, which included elements such as green roofs, ground source heat pumps and solar panels on the roof of the new energy centre. EV charging points will be included in the car park and the whole project is targeting BREEAM Very Good.

Concludes Andrew: “This is a remarkable opportunity for us to be involved in a very exciting project to restore an historic walled garden and make it relevant in the 21st century, creating opportunities for education, participation and horticultural innovation. It was immensely rewarding to lead and coordinate such a talented multidisciplinary design team to achieve such an impressive outcome.”

Our design is part of an on-going process by Harlaxton College, the overseas study centre of the University of Evansville, in close liaison with Historic England, to restore and preserve the historic features within the estate and remove the Grade II* listed grounds and gardens from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.

Urban Edge wins consent for new warehouse scheme on Erdington Industrial Park, Birmingham

August 23rd, 2022 Posted by All, Logistics, News

We have been granted planning permission by Birmingham City Council for a new industrial distribution warehouse at Erdington Industrial Park on behalf of Hermes Fund Managers. The building will potentially be divided into two units of high-end warehouse space, with office space for each at mezzanine level. The scheme will include service yards, car parking and a landscape buffer to reduce the visual impact on surrounding residential areas.

Dave Frost, Senior Associate Director, commented: “This has always been a popular estate due to its central location and convenient access to the M6 and this new facility will help meet the need for high-quality commercial warehouse space in the Midlands, as well as providing employment opportunities for local people during construction and in use. The scheme utilises a brownfield site to add a contemporary industrial/distribution unit to complement the existing industrial park and adds value to an existing asset for our client Hermes Fund Managers. The building has been designed to reflect the scale of the adjacent industrial and distribution buildings, whilst the attractive façade that wraps around all three of the public elevations adds great visual interest and proves not all industrial schemes need be plain boxes. The design provides sufficient internal height to match current distribution demands and enough flexibility to adapt to changing market demand and occupier requirements.”

Our design maximises the site with a single 95,000 sq.ft building, split into two independent units of 40,000 sq.ft and 55,000 sq.ft with, respectively, 2,000 sq.ft and 2,750 sq.ft of office space at mezzanine level. Two sets of parking and service yards, including both level access and sunken loading docks, are separated by fencing. The entrances to the two office areas are situated on opposite sides of the building, with clear lines of sight from the two entrances to ease navigation. This division will also improve safety by keeping pedestrian pathways separate from HGV movements.

The entrances and offices are marked by double-height glazing to maximise natural light, and a dark grey, projecting border of cladding. The main entrance doors will have a light blue frame which highlights the access points. The main body of the warehouse will use contrasting dark, mid and light grey cladding, with a splash of light blue and a horizontal emphasis to break down the elevations.

Although the site is within an established industrial park, the layout offered a few challenges, including a 15m sewer easement located north east of the site boundary which led to the building being relocated to avoid conflicts. A sub-station on the site also required us to rearrange the loading docks’ location for lorry access.

Explains Dave Frost: “Our extensive experience in opening up opportunities for asset creation on sometimes challenging sites has allowed us to develop a quality and deliverable design that can meet all the client’s key requirements. Getting the infrastructure right and making it easy to navigate around the scheme is also a key component of our design and a vital ingredient for both tenants, their customers and the long-term viability of a scheme.”

The design of the scheme also proposes a number of interventions and initiatives to improve energy performance, reduce air pollution and improve local air quality. Available roof space has been fitted with PV technology, whilst car-share spaces are to be included on the site to encourage shared journeys and 12 EV charging bays for electric vehicles. Sheltered cycle parks are also to be proposed to encourage people to cycle to work.

Our design includes a new landscape buffer along the western and northern boundaries which will screen the site and enhance the privacy of the nearby residential houses, as well as reducing any noise pollution. The landscape buffer will be a mix of trees and shrubs and will incorporate SUDS and swales for site drainage.

Industrial strength for net-zero

June 29th, 2022 Posted by All, Logistics, Sustainability

Industrial and logistics is one of the property classes to have emerged stronger than ever from the global pandemic, with increased investor interest in the sector accounting for 27% of all investment into UK real estate in 2021.

However, the investment boom in industrial and logistics arrives at the same time that the United Nations has declared a climate emergency and institutional investors are looking to mitigate the risks to their property portfolios from climate change and deliver better Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) outcomes for all their stakeholders. Developers of industrial and logistics property are coming under increasing pressure to satisfy the ESG criteria of investors and meet the UK Government’s legally binding target of Net-Zero Carbon by 2050.

Owners and developers of industrial and logistics property are also needing to meet the expectations of occupiers, many of whom have their own ESG and net-zero strategies, as well as a requirement to look after the health and wellbeing of their staff. According to Cushman & Wakefield’s recent ‘Industrial Goes Green’ report, over 80 percent of industrial occupiers are asking about sustainable warehouse solutions and 60 percent of them would like their facilities to be green-certified.

Designing and delivering sustainable schemes

For those of us charged with the design and delivery of industrial and logistics property, the rapid influence of these pressures is evident to see, with owners, developers and operators looking to upgrade the sustainability of their schemes. Here at Urban Edge, we’ve received a number of recent enquiries from industrial and logistics clients looking to improve the sustainability of their schemes or to design and deliver net-zero buildings. Where targeting BREEAM Excellent was once a rarity and something to shout about, it’s now rapidly becoming the bare minimum.

Our design for a new 95,000 sq.ft industrial distribution warehouse on the Erdington Industrial Estate in Birmingham, for example, is targeting BREEAM Excellent. Likewise, we have recently completed the redevelopment of a former factory site in Croydon to provide a high quality Class B development for modern industrial operators and have, in the past six months, been directed by our client to design and deliver the scheme to net-zero.

At the same time, we are currently working with industrial and logistics property owners who are looking to decarbonise their existing portfolio of stock, improve their energy efficiency and find ways to achieve net-zero.

Rising energy costs have, of course, had their part to play in some of the decision making, as too has impending legislation. Owners of existing industrial and logistics property will need to keep an eye on the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) which is expected to extend further to non-domestic properties by 2030 and require an EPC grade B or above. This will be of particular concern for landlords with more historic property portfolios as significant retrofit measures may be required to meet the new energy-efficiency regulations. We would advise landlords to futureproof their portfolios against regulatory changes by seeking advice sooner, rather than later, so that a detailed profile of a building or buildings can be undertaken to decide where and what interventions are needed.

The net-zero journey

Whilst net-zero is fast becoming the ‘must have’ for owners and developers seeking finance or looking to attract and retain top-drawer tenants, we must also pause to acknowledge that the industry is at the very start of its net-zero journey, with differing interpretations of net-zero clouding matters further.

In truth, most current net-zero buildings are primarily targeting the elimination of fossil fuels (net-zero energy), but there is a clear distinction between operational carbon and embodied carbon. Put simply, operational carbon emissions are those associated with the energy used to run the building, whilst embodied carbon emissions are those associated with the materials and products used in its construction and across the building’s whole life. A true net-zero carbon building would need to address both of these sources of carbon, without recourse to major offsetting.

Net-zero has proved particularly challenging in the industrial and logistics sector where institutional standards for the specification of buildings have dominated for a long time and many developers and designers have just stuck with what they know. This is gradually starting to change, driven primarily by the demands of modern occupiers who not only want smarter and more efficient space, but also sustainability and wellness initiatives to meet their ESG benchmarks and attract and retain quality employees.

You can see this reflected at our scheme in Erdington, where our design not only maximises the site with a single 95,000 sq.ft building, split into two independent units, but also proposes a number of interventions and initiatives to improve energy performance, reduce air pollution and improve local air quality. Available roof space has been fitted with PV technology, whilst car-share spaces are to be included on the site to encourage shared journeys and 12 EV charging bays are provisioned for electric vehicles.

For the industrial and logistics sector to start delivering fully net-zero carbon buildings, a number of challenges lie ahead, not least tackling the predominant use of steel in construction which has very high embodied carbon. Whilst we’ve spoken to a number of progressive industrial and logistics developers who are exploring the possibilities of timber frame and cladding, insurance hurdles remain due to perceived fire and water risk. Hybrid construction models, such as the use of a concrete core and base as recently proposed by insurance research group RISCAuthority, could provide a way forward to allow for an increased use of timber and other sustainable products whilst mitigating the safety concerns. We will watch with interest how the situation develops.

Early engagement the key to a greener future

Clearly, delivering on commercial expectations, maintaining productivity and profitability, whilst ensuring buildings are highly sustainable or net-zero is an extremely fine balancing act and requires a deep understanding of the industrial and logistics sector’s needs, coupled with experience of sustainable design and technical know-how. Early engagement with experienced architects is key as we can consider sustainability and energy efficiency at all stages of design from site considerations, design and masterplanning, construction and all the way to a building’s operation.

As buildings are currently responsible for approximately 25 percent of UK CO2 emissions, with around 30 percent of those emissions from non-domestic buildings, industrial and logistics real estate has an important role to play in meeting the UK’s overall net-zero Carbon targets. Whilst net-zero is challenging, it also opens up opportunity and will secure a long-term future for companies operating within the sector.

Dave Frost | Senior Associate Director

Darren Hodgson contributes to significant new ARCO Grey Going Green report on net-zero in the integrated retirement community

June 14th, 2022 Posted by All, News, Senior Living, Sustainability

We are delighted to have contributed to ARCO’s Grey Going Green report, published this week, which highlights how the integrated retirement community sector can tackle the net zero carbon challenge.

Drawing on our experience working with Inspired Villages to deliver the UK’s first net zero carbon (regulated energy) retirement community at Millfield Green in the village of Caddington, we set out some of our key learnings on net zero for both parties, the lessons that need to be taken further forward and the important questions clients who haven’t yet embarked on this path need to ask of themselves.

ARCO’s introduction to the report, which has seen members of its expert Advisory Council come together to highlight different areas of the net zero carbon agenda, states that “Integrated retirement communities can’t just have the longevity of older people as their mission. They must also have the longevity of our planet right at their core… the ambition of this report is to help set the integrated retirement community sector on the right track; to provide a strong foundation from which operators of all kinds can draw expertise and put net zero right at the heart of their work.”

Millfield Green and other similar integrated retirement community schemes we are working on in the Inspired Villages portfolio are leading the way on net zero and provide valuable lessons and insight for the sector to take forward.

Darren Hodgson, Senior Associate Director, said: “We are pleased to have contributed to this important report and share our experiences of delivering net zero on real life projects throughout the UK. In sharing this knowledge, the integrated retirement communities sector can work together to ensure that the route to net zero carbon is both practicably and commercially achievable, meeting the needs of investors with an increasing focus on ESG solutions and discerning customers who want homes that are cleaner, greener and healthier.”

ARCO’s Chief Executive, Michael Voges, added: “With over 70,000 homes in integrated retirement communities and the sector set for rapid growth, we’ve got a key role to play in meeting the net zero carbon challenge. Our Advisory Council experts have some great insights on this issue, and we’re delighted they have worked together to produce this extremely timely report.”

If you would like further information on our work on net zero integrated retirement communities, please contact Darren Hodgson at darren.hodgson@urbanedgearchitecture.co.uk

Burger King drive-thru scheme starts on site at Centrepoint Retail Park, Aberdeen

June 6th, 2022 Posted by All, News, Retail

Urban Edge is delighted to announce that Muir Construction has started on site on a new 1800sq ft Burger King drive through unit at the popular Centrepoint Retail Park in Aberdeen. Urban Edge was appointed by RPMI as architect on the £800,000 project, which will also see the reconfiguration of the surrounding car park, taking the scheme from feasibility to planning and onwards to delivery and completion.

Explains Ian Townsend, Associate at Urban Edge: “Many retail park owners are now looking to diversify the range of attractions on their retail parks and drive through F&B retail is a very popular option. It’s great to be working alongside Muir Construction on the delivery of this important scheme and we’re delighted to see it start on-site. The addition of another well-known brand will support Centrepoint Retail Park’s continued viability as a retail and leisure destination and expand employment opportunities for local people during and after completion.”

The appearance and layout of this new Burger King drive through unit has been designed to reflect the brand’s identity and requirements. The exterior mixes cream composite panels that sit on a red brick plinth with timber effect panels that highlight the drive-through windows, as well as provide a background for the operator’s intended signage. Floor-to-ceiling aluminium glazing in the public-facing restaurant provides light and views both into and out of the unit.

“This scheme is the latest in a series of similar schemes we have carried out for well-known F&B retailers. The strong relationships we have forged over the years with all the major F&B operators has given us a deep understanding of their specification and brand requirements and means we can be incredibly efficient in how we deliver their schemes on sometimes challenging sites,” says Ian.

The site layout has been carefully designed with particular consideration given to ensure that any potential queues are contained within the retail park. The proposals have also been carefully planned to ensure that the development does not compromise Aberdeen City Council’s Berryden Corridor Improvement Scheme.

As part of the design, hard landscaping elements are to be softened with planted borders containing eight species of flowering shrubs, which will improve the biodiversity on the urban site, supporting local wildlife, in particular bee and bird populations.

Landscape-Led Urban Regeneration

Landscape-led urban regeneration

May 18th, 2022 Posted by All, Landscape

It’s now a well-established fact that our urban centres are enduring a period of change, brought about by a perfect storm of factors that include climate change, changing consumer habits and the recent Coronavirus pandemic. If our towns and cities are to remain viable and relevant to our lives, they will need to adapt quickly to these changes. Where traditional town centres used to be entirely composed of retail and commercial office space, a shift towards a mix of uses is now required and could include everything from residential to co-working space, leisure to healthcare, as well as community facilities.

We also need to acknowledge that the spaces outside and between these buildings will play a critical part in the revitalisation of our urban centres. The public realm can enhance the building architecture, provide setting and context, and better connect the doors of homes, shops, workspaces and leisure facilities to the outside world. Carefully designed public realm creates spaces that truly work for people and landscape architects should be involved at every stage of the regeneration decision-making process.

As my colleague Alex Marcoulides detailed in his article here, we have recently been working with local authorities as part of the Towns Fund bidding process and have contributed towards formulating some ambitious proposals.

In particular we have been working in close collaboration with Boston District Council where we have been given the opportunity to implement some of our ideas to regenerate the town centre, increase footfall, attract visitors and enhance the look and feel of the area. This includes a programme of works to enhance the town centre by making it more pedestrian friendly and less car dominated; introduce more trees; provide space for the market and introduce gateway garden areas. This would be accompanied by works to bring Boston’s town centre heritage and leisure to life, helping to attract more visitors and increase visitor spend. It’s the perfect encapsulation of landscape design’s role in the delivery of a successful regeneration strategy.

Landscape-Led Urban Regeneration

Concept diagram detailing the important relationship between buildings and landscape

Health, social equity and environmental benefits

Landscape design in town centres is about much more than aesthetic value. For local authorities, improved public realm in urban areas can have a profound impact on public health and the management of health and social care costs. At the same time, it can improve social equity, whilst also helping to meet borough-wide environmental targets.

As acknowledgment of a growing obesity crisis gathers pace, the NHS has recommended we perform at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, preferably outdoors. Outdoor spaces are also a key factor in maintaining positive mental health, with many healthcare professionals now suggesting that 120 minutes contact with nature per week should be added to the NHS guidance. Well-conceived public space is therefore seen as a critical component in civic health and wellbeing provision.

The first wave of lockdowns that followed the outbreak of COVID-19 highlighted just how many people, particularly in urban areas, value outdoor and green space, with images of packed parks and seafronts blazoned across newspaper and TV news headlines. However, the lockdown period also revealed the ‘green poverty’ that exists in many towns and cities, with many disadvantaged communities having significantly less access to green space within 300 metres of their home, and presenting an even more compelling case for improved urban public realm.

Planting of trees, shrubs and the introduction of sustainable urban drainage systems can, if well designed, not only make our urban spaces more attractive, they can improve biodiversity, mitigate urban heat islands, and provide good drainage solutions to deal with changes in weather patterns and rainfall in a way that doesn’t surcharge our already overstretched drainage systems. Further still, with over 300 local authorities having now declared a climate emergency in their jurisdictions, urban greening can help absorb carbon and contribute towards borough-wide carbon-reduction targets.

Landscape-Led Urban Regeneration

We’re working with Boston District Council to implement some of our ideas to regenerate the town centre

Reclaiming urban spaces for people

The COVID-19 pandemic has also afforded us the opportunity to challenge some of the unsustainable behavioural patterns hardwired into our urban environments, not least the priorities given to cars over pedestrians. As offices and shops closed, people left their cars parked and local authorities looked to improve walkway infrastructure to allow for social distancing; in some instances, entire town and city thoroughfares were pedestrianised to facilitate outdoor socialising, eating and drinking.

Whilst levels of car usage have inevitably increased in recent months, large numbers of people continue to work at least partly from home. The introduction of low emission zones in towns and cities will also see fewer cars entering our urban centres. Fewer cars not only means less pollution, but also less congestion and less requirement for on-street parking and the clutter of road-related signage. We can stop thinking of streets as networks for cars, but rather places for people to live, work and play.

However, the opportunities that this presents can only be successfully realised if properly planned and designed with care and attention. Flexibility is key. Outdoor spaces are rarely static; they can change with the seasons and brim with the unpredictable patterns of life as people pass, meet and overlap. Well-considered, flexible urban space can fulfil a number of different functions throughout the year and help to create a city centre that’s a destination in its own right, providing opportunities to host civic events, annual shows, big-screen sporting events, winter markets or even the introduction of a summer beach.

Good landscape architecture is therefore integral to successful regeneration schemes and can help unlock the opportunities created by building architecture. Attractive, accessible and pedestrian friendly public realm will encourage people to use the space, increase dwell time and ensure returning visits. Done well, it can ensure the long-term socio-economic future of our urban centres by creating vibrant spaces in which some types of retail and other economic activity can thrive once more.

This is an extended version of an article that first appeared in Pro Landscaper magazine in April 2022.

Post-Lockdown Office Refurbishment Now Complete

Post-lockdown ‘agile and flexible’ office refurbishment now complete

May 4th, 2022 Posted by All, News

Like many businesses throughout the world, Urban Edge had to adapt very quickly to the global Coronavirus emergency. Just prior to the pandemic taking its hold, our practice had already started to look at more flexible staff working arrangements and our investment in an IT infrastructure to ensure everybody could work successfully from home paid dividends. It ensured quick response rates and continuity for clients during lockdown, whilst also allowing our teams to collaborate and maintain a consistent level of service, understanding and creativity on projects.

As the vaccination programme gathered pace, Coronavirus replication numbers dropped and economic activity resumed at pace across the country, so we started to plan for the future. As an inclusive and supportive business, it was imperative that staff were fully engaged in the process through a series of group discussions to gauge their thoughts on home-versus-office working and the most effective way of operating moving forward.

Whilst there were inevitably a mix of ideas, it was apparent that most people wanted a return to the office for at least two to three days a week. The main reasons cited related to the social and cultural aspects of office life, as well as the need to more effectively collaborate.

Director, Tom McNamara, explains further: “Although video conferencing through Teams or Zoom proved effective throughout the various lockdown periods, it could never replace face-to-face interaction. Architecture is a collaborative and creative process that benefits greatly from in-person interactions within the design team. We thrive on being able to sit around a table as a team, brainstorming ideas with enthusiasm and reaching the creative conclusions for which we are renowned.”

Taking into account the views expressed by staff, we conducted some remodelling on our current office space to see how it could be rearranged to create the optimal working environment. Whilst health and wellbeing were inevitably key considerations, it was clear that the office should no longer be just a place to sit at a desk, but a space to encourage culture and community, promote collaboration and improve operational efficiencies through the natural communication of information and ideas. Face-to-face interaction within the office environment, unlike an impersonal email or video communication, ensures better clarification and fosters quicker understanding, whilst also helping new staff to learn about the business and understand the way things are done.

“We had appointed some 13 new members of staff during the lockdown period,” continues Tom, “and the shorter-than-usual induction periods and lack of office time necessitated by the ‘Work from Home’ mandate was tough on them. A return to the workspace means we now have the benefit of longer periods of induction in the office for new starters, allowing them to get to know people, understand a little bit more about the company culture and how the office works. Likewise, our younger and graduate staff can learn so much when they’re in the office just listening to conversations and how other people deal with certain situations. So, whilst there are many benefits to working from home, there are also advantages to working in an office, such as building social connections, improved communication and understanding, increased productivity and career progression.”

Post-Lockdown Office Refurbishment Now Complete

Two meeting pods have been installed enabling some privacy in an open office environment

Agile and flexible

During and between the lockdown periods, as staff transitioned to a hybrid form of working, desktop computers were changed to laptops to allow for more agility and flexibility in the face of a constantly evolving situation. These changes have also informed the new office layout, with some of the existing desk space removed from the main studio and given over to collaborative areas. At the same time, two large meeting pods have been installed – these offer acoustic attenuation and enable some privacy and quieter meetings whilst still in an open office environment.

Initially, following the office refurbishment, around half of the existing desk space was removed, but careful analysis of use-pattern data has seen the ratio of desk space increased to two thirds of the original number to ensure maximum efficiency. The desks have been optimised for hot desking, with docking stations and adjustable monitors to allow staff to create their own bespoke workspace. There are also a mix of different workspaces, suitable for particular tasks or workflow that staff can book via their mobile or laptop using an app called WiggleDesk. We are proud to be an early adopter of the innovative desk-booking tool that was devised by former Google data scientist William Wildridge.

“As a forward-thinking practice, we’re thrilled to be trialling technology that harnesses the power of AI and data visualisation to allow us to operate with maximum flexibility and maintain a safe environment,” explains Tom. “The app allows you to see what desks are available on each day, book and unbook the appropriate space for your requirements; it also includes reminders to clean your workstation once you’ve finished, reinforcing all the important hygiene messaging that people expect and understand in this post Covid world.”

From informal to formal

Our second office on the other side of the Scotgate Mews courtyard has also undergone a significant makeover. Previously a more traditional office set up, the new space has been designed purposefully with maximum flexibility in mind, and can be used as both a conference suite and breakout area for staff. Flexible seating and desks can be arranged for more casual interactions or informal meetings, but can easily be adapted to create a more traditional and formal meeting space. The inclusion of a large interactive screen will allow clients or staff working remotely to join design team meetings and allow for more dynamic presentations once clients and other design team members return fully to in-person activity.

The courtyard itself – weather permitting – is also a useful break-out space and can be used for informal staff meetings and events. During the summer, the practice used the courtyard space to gather all staff together in person, discuss the highs and lows of the previous year and update them on the reconfiguration of the offices. Following a year largely working from home, it was also a useful period for staff not only to reacquaint themselves with each other, but get to know some of the new starters.

“After such a long period working remotely, we fully understood that some people might have some anxieties about returning to the office. Having the ability to reconnect everybody outdoors in a socially distanced way – yet also still within the realm of the offices – was a great way to reintroduce staff to each other and help ease any anxieties about returning to the workplace. For new members of staff who joined us during the lockdown period, this was also their first opportunity to meet everybody in person. It proved to be an incredibly positive day.”

Post-Lockdown Office Refurbishment Now Complete

Our second office, ‘The Workshop’, has also undergone a significant makeover

Community benefits

Whilst the practice works nationally, we have always cared passionately about the town and region where our offices are located and have always sought to give something back to the area that has contributed so much to our success. Reaching out to the local community through local social groups and networks, all the surplus fixtures and fittings, including chairs, desks and cabinets, were given new homes locally.

We have also donated the studio’s previous large interactive screen to the Bourne Arts and Community Trust where it will be used at the charity’s base, the Grade II Listed Wake House in Bourne which serves as a Community Centre with a variety of rooms to hire for groups, events and meetings.

Desktop PCs that were replaced by laptops have been offered to staff for a nominal fee, with the proceeds going to the Urban Edge Foundation – a charity set up to raise funds and awareness for established charities such as The Alzheimer’s Society and Prostate Cancer UK.

Where new office furniture has been introduced, every effort has been made to source recycled or upcycled products from local suppliers.

Social and cultural context

There has been much conjecture about the future of the office amongst business leaders and the media alike over the last two years. The reality is that the office is here to stay, but perhaps not in the same way that it existed pre-pandemic. As we have found through our own experiences, an attractive office must now be more than just desks, chair and computers, and as much about social and cultural context.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, there is a lot of positivity around our growing pipeline of work and the growth of the business moving forward,” says Tom. “Our office will play an essential role in the future of Urban Edge, not just as a physical manifestation of the business, but as our cultural heart. A place where we can connect and collaborate, teach and learn, progress and build. A place where a special kind of alchemy occurs to create innovative solutions for clients and personal and professional fulfilment for staff.”

Ben Doherty Appointed Associate Director

Urban Edge introduces Ben Doherty as a new Associate Director

March 16th, 2022 Posted by All, News

Urban Edge is delighted to introduce Ben Doherty as a new Associate Director.

Recently returned from Australia where he was Senior Project Leader for Smart Design Studio in New South Wales, Ben is a specialist in the design and delivery of high-end multi-residential schemes, such as the much-heralded 178 apartment Connor building at the gateway to one of Sydney’s most popular urban precincts. Prior to his time in Australia, Ben worked on a number of large-scale residential schemes in the London studio of Horden Cherry Lee, including Newfoundland, a 58 storey residential tower in Canary Wharf.

Ben’s initial area of focus at Urban Edge is on the later living sector, utilising the knowledge, techniques and methodologies gained from experience on major projects to evolve, develop and improve efficiencies and processes.

“I’ve been really impressed with the enthusiasm and willingness to learn at Urban Edge,” says Ben. “I see a real opportunity to apply some of my skills to the practice, especially on some of the large-scale projects, and introduce some of the processes and ways of working from other studio environments that I know work really well. It’s about introducing something new and fresh, perhaps offering a slightly different way of looking at things and seeing whether that approach can make a difference.”

Moving back to the UK and experiencing the challenges of remotely managing a team on the other side of the world via video communications, Ben’s glad to be back in a thriving studio environment.

We have recently remodelled our current office space to create the optimal working environment for our staff following the upheaval of the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst health and wellbeing have inevitably been key considerations in the reconfiguration, it was clear that the office should no longer be just a place to sit at a desk, but a space to encourage culture and community, promote collaboration and improve operational efficiencies through the natural communication of information and ideas.

“After the last two years, where many staff have been working from home and there are new faces they’ve never even met, I’m sure it’s like coming into a totally new studio environment,” says Ben. “The ability to work remotely does have some positives, but nothing beats sitting with your team and discussing work holistically. I love being in a studio environment where everyone’s feeding off each other. And when I say studio, I don’t mean a bunch of people sat around desks; a studio for me is all about collaboration, detail paper, sketching, architectural drawings and material samples that you can immerse yourself in. If everything is just digital, it can feel a little removed.”

As someone who has a passion for the visual nature of design, one of the first things Ben has introduced to our studio are magnetic whiteboards where ongoing work will be pinned up and staff will be encouraged to come together to review and analyse as a team. “It’s about collaboration, people coming together to read plans and drawings holistically rather than locally – it’s the perfect mechanism for improving design quickly and efficiently,” explains Ben.

Moving forward, Ben will be looking to apply some of the same efficiencies and processes across all the sectors in which we operate. He also wants to play an active part in encouraging the next generation of architects. “I love mentoring and I spent a lot of time mentoring Part I and II architecture students at my previous practice. I think back to some of those individuals who mentored me early on in my career and helped give me a greater understanding of design, technical detail and delivery and I can think of no greater compliment than being able to pass on that knowledge and everything I’ve learned since.

Retail Park Refurbishment at Campbell's Meadow Retail Park

Start on site for retail park refurbishment at Campbell’s Meadow Retail Park

March 8th, 2022 Posted by All, News, Retail

We are overseeing the start on site of a façade upgrade and modernisation of five retail units at Campbell’s Meadow Retail Park, on the outskirts of historic King’s Lynn in Norfolk.

Whilst a popular retail destination, the units at Campbell’s Meadow Retail Park were starting to look tired and dated and required bringing up to current market expectations with a positive, modern look to improve the experience of customers at the site. Working with client Kames Capital, our team considered several options to create a new façade design that could be delivered within the client’s cost requirement, as well as responding to the market conditions and fulfilling the existing tenants’ needs.

It was also essential that the retail park remain fully operational and the design conceived to be delivered in such a way as to minimise disruption to existing tenants. Drawing on our extensive experience in the successful delivery and upgrade of retail schemes throughout the UK, we devised a ‘light touch’ solution that will be as unobtrusive as possible and allow tenants to keep trading throughout the works programme.

Our final design proposal changes the out-dated cladding for sleek, modern fire-safe composite panels, which will improve the thermal performance of the units as well as the aesthetics of the terrace as a whole. Bold, rectangular signage features emphasise the entrance to each unit and add visual prominence for the retailers from Hardwick Road.

The retail park refurbishment and modernisation has already created the opportunity to secure a national retailer tenant, their unit façade enhanced to provide a significant amount of additional glazing. It is hoped that the upgrade will continue to attract a more diverse retail mix, which will only increase the overall popularity of Campbell’s Meadow Retail Park.

Tom McNamara, Director, comments: “The retail sector is facing a range of challenges as it looks to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic. At Campbell’s Meadow Retail Park we have provided a cost-effective solution to enhance the user experience and create a safer and more welcoming environment that will help speed up the process of bringing footfall levels back up to normal. We are delighted to be working once more with Havercroft Construction in the delivery of this scheme and securing the long-term commercial viability of Campbell’s Meadow Retail Park.”

The retail park refurbishment starts on site on the 14th March 2022 with a 28-week programme of works. Be sure to check our website and social media regularly for updates.

Landscape, Architecture and the Importance of Green Spaces

Landscape, architecture and the importance of green spaces

March 2nd, 2022 Posted by All, Landscape, News

Andrew Cottage, Associate Director and Head of Landscape Design talks about his role here at Urban Edge and the importance of greenspace.

The importance of open spaces and, in particular, greenspace, has never been more important. The recent lockdowns have showed us how vital parks and outdoor spaces are to our physical and mental health and wellbeing. We have become acutely aware of the importance of issues around accessibility and inclusiveness. Good greenspace can encourage participation and interaction and as such contribute to the formation of strong communities. In addition we have seen how, with a little encouragement, wildlife is able to adapt and return to our urban places.

This heightened awareness should emphasise to developers that well designed greenspace will add value to their development by making it more desirable to the end-user. Carefully crafted landscape schemes are a fundamental component of successful placemaking and as such can support the timely passage of a proposed development through the planning process.

Inspiration

I’ve been interested in natural places, gardens and art from an early age and was able to combine my passions by studying Landscape Architecture at Greenwich University under Tom Turner.

When I graduated it was an exciting time and I remember vividly working in Cardiff at a time when it was at the beginning of its renaissance and the Ebbw Vale Garden Festival (1992) took place. This was a hugely significant landscape led project, revitalising the site of the old Corus Group steel and tin works into gardens, plant exhibitions and other visitor attractions. It was hoped it would support the regeneration of Cardiff and surrounding villages by attracting new investment into the area which had been badly hit by the decline of traditional heavy industries. The Garden Festival attracted over 2 million visitors and was the first example I’d seen of how landscape architecture can contribute to effective regeneration and create places that support strong and resilient communities.

Since then, my view that landscape has a crucial role to play in creating successful places hasn’t changed. Working in private practices, many of my projects have been commercial developments where the ability to sell the benefits of good landscape design to a developer has been important. The advantages will vary from scheme to scheme but there are common themes and sound commercial reasons for paying attention to the landscape, such as making a project more acceptable to planners and end-users and getting higher incomes as a result. A well considered landscape scheme can integrate a new development into its surroundings and create developments which are place specific and sympathetic to the local landscape character.

There are also important long-term benefits of a carefully planned and properly integrated landscape design. These include creating positive and usable spaces as well as all the benefits arising from a well thought through planting scheme, such as better air quality, reduced heat gain, provision of nectar, increased biodiversity and carbon capture. As the conversation turns to net-zero development, landscape can play an increasingly valuable role, for example by integrating sustainable drainage schemes into the wider landscape design. I’m not saying we can solve climate change, but we can certainly help!

Seamless integration

Working for Urban Edge immediately appealed to my interest in working as part of a team in the delivery of great schemes. The practice offers a fully integrated service where landscape and architecture work seamlessly, hand-in-hand to create coherent developments where buildings and landscape combine harmoniously and the end product is greater than the sum of its parts.

An integrated team makes it is easier to identify opportunities to enhance the finished scheme. For example, the team can work together to optimise site layouts to maximise the interaction between the buildings and landscape, making a natural flow of spaces and create feelings of openness and engagement. We can identify opportunities to create spaces which are usable and attractive to both people and wildlife.

Urban Edge has been able to develop this integrated approach to architecture and landscape with its clients, particularly Inspired Villages, one of the UK’s most innovative later living specialists. We have an ageing population who spend more time within the developments creating the opportunity for the external spaces to take on an even greater and more valuable role. Landscape becomes an intrinsic element of the overall scheme, providing high quality and very usable green spaces, which offer a range of opportunities for residents to socialise, be active and participate in activities and events. We work closely with the project ecologist to provide plenty of habitat within the development to support local biodiversity, attracting wildlife and increasing contact between the residents and the natural environment. In these ways we can deliver the benefits of the outside for physical and mental wellbeing.

Creativity

I am a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute and I worked for them for a spell recently, managing an international design competition and helping to organise their online webinar series. This gave me a broader and more in-depth insight, not only on the challenges that my profession is facing, but the great work that the Landscape Institute are doing and the level of excitement and creativity that my fellow landscape architects are bringing to the design table.

For me, my role at Urban Edge only begins with planning, designing and delivering. These are all steps along the way to the finished piece of work but the real excitement is seeing people enjoy the spaces that we create and watching how a client takes the project forward in ways that I, as the designer, may not have anticipated. Our work creates fresh starting points, but the landscape is never complete or static and constantly evolves and looks towards the future.

Landscape architecture is a varied and challenging discipline that can have as much or as little effect on a project as it is allowed to have. It can support mental health, create a feeling of community, settle a new development into its wider context and help in the fight against climate change.

For some sectors, the landscape has always played a role in the finished scheme, whilst in others more commercial elements take priority. Recent Coronavirus lockdowns have highlighted the importance of quality outdoor spaces for the health and wellbeing of all communities. I and the team at Urban Edge are looking forward to sharing that sense of excitement and creativity and ensuring that landscape architecture plays its full role across every sector in the Urban Edge portfolio from residential to retail, leisure to logistics.

Andrew Cottage | Associate Director and Head of Landscape Design

MindSpace Two Years On

MindSpace two years on – A place where people are comfortable to be themselves

February 22nd, 2022 Posted by All, Charity, News

Back in 2019, when Stamford-based mental health charity, MindSpace, was looking for a permanent home from which to deliver its much-needed activities, a team of volunteers from Urban Edge stepped up to help refurbish an unoccupied building on Broad Street in the middle of the town. Two years on, and despite the emergence of a global pandemic, MindSpace is now successfully delivering a range of friendly and safe events from the new Broad Street premises, as well as using it as a space to support people with the skills and confidence to be more comfortable having conversations about mental health issues.

Tom McNamara, Director, comments: “Connecting to the local community and giving something back to the area that has contributed so much to the practice’s success has always been at the forefront of our vision. Helping a local charity such as MindSpace turned out to be a brilliant few days, with everyone just getting stuck in and going for it.”

MindSpace and Urban Edge met at the Stamford Mercury Business Awards earlier in 2019, where MindSpace won ‘Best Social Enterprise’ category and we picked up the prize for ‘Large Business of the Year.’

Reflecting back on it now, Helen Howe at MindSpace, says: “The timing was perfect. Urban Edge approached us as they were looking to help a local charity with a hands-on project and we had this major refurbishment that also needed some expertise on the planning process. Urban Edge worked up some alternative designs for the new frontage and finalised a professional elevation to show to the planners.”

When it came to hands-on work, our team ripped up old flooring, stripped wallpaper, cleared the garden, and redecorated the interior. The design and colour scheme had to deliver a series of flexible spaces to house MindSpace’s range of activities, from training sessions to informal tea and chat to relaxing spaces for one-to-one conversations. The whole space, inside a listed building, had to project feelings of safety and relaxation, welcome and comfort.

Working from the MindSpace members’ brief of ‘everything you wouldn’t expect and not institutional’, our interior design team took inspiration from MindSpace’s logo and the warm brick of the existing exteriors to create a series of rooms, lightly divided with natural timber slat screens, and furnished with comfortable, domestic style furniture. Rich blue highlighted some of the walls, with splashes of deep orange to provide focal points, and soft grey shades connected the interior with the new front and signage.

MindSpace Two Years On

A rich blue highlighted some of the walls, with splashes of deep orange providing focal points

Ian Townsend and Sarah Steinberg were two of our staff who helped over the four days, making good the walls, painting and adding the vibrant colours to make the rooms buzz.

Explains Ian: “The original building décor was a very dismal and worn-out beige, so freshening up all the walls and bringing in the hot colours really made a difference. It was a great experience, doing something different and working with other team members that I didn’t usually get to work with. Whilst it was fun to do, it was also incredibly fulfilling to create something positive for the community.”

Continues Sarah: “Originally I didn’t know much about MindSpace and its work, but helping refurbish the building and talking to the people there brought it home to me how wonderful it was to create a community hub that would be helping so many people in so many ways.”

“The new spaces were an instant hit, providing our members with a constant, familiar, inclusive environment,” confirms MindSpace’s Helen Howe.

With the Broad Street premises now fully operational, MindSpace took the momentous step of signing a full lease of the building in February 2021 and is looking to expand its opening times and put on more activities, as well as opening its doors to other regional health services and organisations to deliver their activities.

Concludes Ian: “I know from my own family experience of mental health issues how important it is to have a place to go where you feel safe and welcome, just to get out of the house, meet people and have someone to listen to you without judgement. It was a very enjoyable few days and in an incredibly short period of time we helped create a community resource that will support others for many years.”

Tom sums up: “As architects and designers we have a set of skills that we can use in any sector, from later living to warehousing, but when we are able to help an active local charity in the vital work they do, it adds an extra level of meaning. Design – interior or exterior – can have a real, positive, impact on the people who use the spaces and it’s exciting to see how MindSpace are taking forward and expanding the help they give the local community.”

For more information about MindSpace and the services it offers, please visit their website.

A Positive Start to 2022

Urban Edge Architecture and Inspired Villages enjoy a positive start to 2022!

January 27th, 2022 Posted by All

Following a brace of good news stories in December, 2022 started with a flourish for Urban Edge and our continued relationship with Inspired Villages. Firstly, our reserved matters submission for the first phase of Inspired Villages’ proposed Integrated Retirement Community (IRC) at Little Mount Farm, Tunbridge Wells, received unanimous approval from the planning committee. After the scheme was initially refused planning, we worked tirelessly with the client and project team to develop updated proposals that responded to the feedback received from the local planning officers and planning committee to guarantee planning would be approved the second time around. We are currently in the process of developing the technical design for the scheme which is targeting a start towards the end of this year.

A Positive Start to 2022

Little Mount Farm Retirement Community, Tunbridge Wells

Our second good news story was the securing of planning approval for our Integrated Retirement Community scheme for Inspired Villages at Sonning Common, South Oxfordshire. Originally submitted back in 2019, the scheme was initially refused; however a subsequent appeal successfully demonstrated the fulfilment of a need for older persons accommodation in West Oxfordshire and that the development was suitable within the context of the Chilterns AONB.  Following the resolution of subsequent legal challenges we look forward to developing the approved scheme in greater detail for a targeted start on site in the fourth quarter of this year.

A Positive Start to 2022

Sonning Common Retirement Community, Oxfordshire

Finally, we have been assisting Inspired Villages with their future development site in Great Leighs which was exchanged just before Christmas. This site will form part of Inspired Villages’ drive to deliver 34 villages for the over 65s in the next ten years. These recent schemes build further on our close working relationship with Inspired Villages as we continue to help drive their development pipeline forwards. We have an exciting 12 months ahead, with new development schemes coming online and the continuing delivery on site of the first Net Zero Carbon (*regulated energy) Integrated Retirement Communities in Millfield Green, Caddington and Ampfield Meadows, Chandlers Ford.

Regeneration: Perspective and Vision

Regeneration: Perspective and Vision

November 22nd, 2021 Posted by All, Mixed-Use, Residential, Retail

Whilst seemingly taking a backseat during the pandemic, ‘levelling up’ appears to be firmly back on the Government’s agenda. The first winners of the Levelling Up Fund were unveiled by the Chancellor in the recent Autumn Budget, whilst the appointment of Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Levelling Up and head of the newly named Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities further cemented the Government’s intent.

Just prior to the pandemic, as part of its commitment to levelling up through area-based regeneration, the Government had launched its Towns Fund for England, a £3.6 billion fund to support local economic growth in ‘struggling’ towns across England. Funding for 101 towns was available, with bids for up to £25 million each on the table.

As part of that bidding process, we have been involved in drafting up a number of proposals with Local Authorities and have contributed towards formulating some ambitious bids. In particular we have been working in close collaboration with Boston District Council where we have been given the opportunity to implement some of our regeneration ideas in line with the council’s forward-thinking vision on a number of strategic sites within the town centre. Our achievement in Boston has led to further commissions elsewhere in Lincolnshire, gaining us invaluable experience in terms of the approach, local requirements and the complex mechanisms and quick turnaround timings involved.

Getting the ingredients right

Regeneration can take place in a multitude of ways. For built-environment professionals, such as architects, regeneration manifests itself through large-scale works; however it is important to understand that such works need to be implemented as part of a holistic approach, taking into account both social and economic needs. We know from experience that just creating attractive houses makes no difference to local people’s lives unless you also look at education, jobs and health. Quality of life, vibrant communities and a strong local economy are intrinsic to the levelling up agenda and the important ingredients for a successful housing market and sustainable recovery.

However, assembling these ingredients, presents a layer of complexity to regeneration schemes and means they tend to be completed over a long timeframe. They require careful planning and a considered programme to be put in place. Local Community participation is essential for success and failure to secure key pieces of the regeneration puzzle, as well as community buy-in, most often results in a wholesale redesign of the proposals, wasting valuable time and resources. From our experience, these discussions should start as soon as a framework emerges.

Even so, the short-term nature of the UK’s local or national electoral cycle can often disrupt local programming and established implementation agreements. The whole process can be reassessed or, in some cases, be discarded completely under a new leadership with a different set of priorities. In an ideal world, it would benefit everyone if regeneration programmes and national policy were devised with cross-party support to outlast governmental changes and mitigate disruption.

Public-private partnership

Land ownership is also an added complication to regeneration. The scale of the projects usually involves the need to utilise both public and private land. Purchasing private land is not always a simple process and often leads to unreasonable expectations by landlords as to the present development value of their land.

Tight and inflexible timescales for the delivery of some of the bid documents has been another considerable obstacle for many Local Authorities. Whilst underutilised public land is generally ideal for regeneration, years of austerity have weakened many councils’ capabilities to evaluate the development opportunities across their assets; the reality is that it can take considerable time for public land to be released for development, extending wh