Retail & Office Space

Government policy is now to encourage investment in historic town centres, which for many years have faced the challenge of competition from edge of town malls. Customers in turn have rediscovered the delights of small proprietor-owned shops, businesses of real character that attract customers by offering something distinctively different from standard retail fare. Being located within buildings and streets of historical and architectural interest helps to attract customers, and further reinforces the appeal of the traditional high street.

Tibby's Triangle

The challenge in Southwold was to fit a new development into a Conservation Area in the heart of this historic seaside town, on a site with a long frontage to the main street, close to Grade I listed St Edmunds's Church. Tibby's Triangle had been the distribution yard for Adnams Brewery, founded in Southwold in 1890 and a major local employer. Having built a new award-winning eco-distribution centre in a former gravel quarry on the edge of the town to cater for the company's growth, Adnams wanted to redevelop its old town centre site in ways that would enhance the quality of local life, create employment and keep the business at the heart of the community.

Adnams' new Cellar & Kitchen shop and café now serves to anchor one end of the site, providing the company with a destination retail location to support its growing brand and expanding company portfolio. Set behind this street frontage, new housing development provides much-needed accommodation in the heart of the popular town. We encouraged the architects to create a new street through the triangular site, with smaller passage-ways that evoke the existing grain of Southwold and open up attractive new views to St Edmund's Church.

Garlanded with awards (including Best Housing Design in 2012), the Tibby's Triangle buildings are a modern interpretation of Southwold's traditional terraces, disposed in such a way as to create interesting enclosed spaces, akin to the 'yards' found elsewhere in the town. Substantial chimneys provide interest and venting for services, while local brick and flint are used for walls and clay pantiles for the roofs.

'The redevelopment of Tibby's Triangle has enabled us to raise the profile of the Cellar & Kitchen store in the town and has provided new residential accommodation. With Historic England  advice, the development has opened up new pedestrian routes, public spaces and views of Southwold's splendid church.' - Emma Hibbert, Head of Corporate Affairs, Adnams -

DEVELOPER: Hopkins Homes
ARCHITECT: Ash Sekula Architects
LEAD PARTNER: Adnams Brewery

Derby city centre

Derby is a good example of how a city centre can gain a new lease of life through investment in historic buildings. Designated as a Conservation Area, the cathedral quarter has a medieval street pattern, a covered market and an eclectic mix of shops, ranging from 17th-century timber-framed buildings to purpose-built shopping arcades, built as Derby's version of London's fashionable Burlington Arcade. These needed investment to refresh the appearance of a very attractive collection of historic buildings whose character had become submerged by neglect, clumsy alteration and crude modern fascias.

Together we and the City Council offered shop owners a combination of advice and funding, in return for which the owners were asked to invest an equivalent amount in repairs and refurbishment. The scheme is now in its fifth year and 72 grants have been approved so far, paying for repairs and the reinstatement of architectural details that remind everyone just how attractive a shopping area the city centre is. In addition, the City Council has implemented a programme of public realm works that complement the restored frontages, creating a street scene of a consistently very high quality.

The real test for owners is whether or not the value of their properties has increased sufficiently to cover the investment and whether their tenants have gained customers. Trevor Raybould, of the estate agents Raybould & Sons, heads up a practice specialising in commercial development properties in Derby city centre. His former office in Derby was one of those to benefit from the scheme, as a result of which he has persuaded many others to take advantage and reap the benefits. He says the regeneration scheme has had positive media coverage, which encourages other landlords to take part, existing businesses to stay in the area, and new businesses to open. This has been confirmed by evidence from follow-up surveys: responses from grant recipients suggest that 250 jobs will have been created or protected by the end of the scheme, that sales and retail footfall have increased, and that confidence in the retail market has been renewed.

'The opening of new malls on the edge of Derby raised the bar in terms of shop presentation, exposing the tiredness of the City Centre - a Conservation Area which is rich in heritage. Without the scheme large areas of the City Centre would now lie barren. With the scheme, the converse is true - as shops have been improved, they have been let. Three years ago some 60-plus small shops were vacant - today, maybe less than 20 - contrary to the national trend.' - Trevor Raybould, Raybould & Sons estate agents -

LEAD PARTNER: Derby City Council

West Offices

The local authority was itself the client for the former British Rail West Offices in York, which now serve as a new headquarters building for City of York Council. The West Offices began life as York's first railway station, built in 1839-41, the pioneering years of the development of Britain's railway system. The building, with its grand central entrance, booking hall, refreshment rooms and Station Hotel, is listed Grade II* in recognition of its experimental and innovative character and the fact that it established a pattern for later station buildings.

Despite this, the shadow of dereliction hung over the building for many years before the proposal for new council offices was conceived. Our staff advised the developers throughout the preparation of the scheme on the best ways to reveal and enhance the building's railway heritage. The whole build process was also preceded by an archaeological dig that revealed the city's original Roman civic baths.

The original brick buildings and 1850s hotel have all been retained with little alteration. Within the central part of the site two new linked linear structures will contain flexible modern workspace for the council's 1,400 staff, with access from the original platforms. The last surviving section of the original train shed has been re-erected at the west end of the new office (where it originally stood) to form a covered conservatory, with planting and seating areas. Moving into a building that incorporates the highest standards of sustainability and energy use will save the council some £17 million over the next 25 years.

'The development has enabled the sustainable long-term new use of an important historic building in the heart of York that had no clear future. The scheme has also brought back to life a building that had become almost invisible to the city and increased public access, as well as encouraging the creation of an outstanding contemporary example of urban and civic design.' - Cllr Julie Gunnell, York City Council's Cabinet Member for Corporate Services -

'The advice, support and input from English Heritage [now Historic England] proved invaluable throughout the process, helping the developers to ensure that the old and new elements of the development could work together in perfect harmony to provide a sustainable future for this important building. It was also important from our perspective that everything we added did not compete or detract from the quality of the original station complex which should read as crisp, modern and clean. Achieving such high standards of sustainability proves with a careful, considered approach older buildings can be adapted for modern use, without compromising our client's demanding brief for an efficient new headquarters.' - Chris Hale, S Harrison Developments Ltd -

DEVELOPER: York Investors LLP, comprising S Harrison Developments Ltd and Buccleuch Property, on behalf of York City Council
ARCHITECT: Crease Strickland Parkins Ltd
LEAD PARTNER: City of York Council

Quakers Friars

In Bristol, Quakers Friars incorporates the remains of a Dominican friary established around 1227, the Grade II* Cutlers' and Bakers' Halls, and a Grade I main building that was built as a Friends Meeting House in 1747-49, used until recently as a register office.

Standing in the middle of one of Bristol's biggest and busiest shopping malls, the Meeting House has now been re-opened as a vibrant restaurant. One of the many gains from this new use was the opening up of access to the original gallery, by means of a new staircase that was introduced at our suggestion, and the restoration of the original columned hall, which had been subdivided by partition walls into a warren of cramped offices.

DEVELOPER: Brasserie Blanc
ARCHITECT: Alec French Architects
LEAD PARTNER: Bristol City Council

Rolle Estate Office

Clinton Devon Estates is a complex family-owned business that traces its origins in East Devon to the 16th century, and whose activities range from traditional farming and forestry operations to business parks and residential property. Having outgrown the house that had been the Estate's centre of operations for many years, a new office was needed that would be centrally located to reduce vehicle use, accessible to the Estate's many local employees and built to high environmental standards. The site that best met these criteria was located on the edge of the registered 18th century park at Bicton.

We supported the new development as a means of reinvigorating a degraded part of the Grade I park and of restoring lost landscape elements, such as historic tree clumps and estate railings. The architects were asked to respond to the setting, incorporate local materials and achieve high levels of sustainability. The result is an elliptical building, reflecting the form of historic tree clumps, built of locally quarried Exeter Red Stone and locally harvested timber, partly buried to ensure that it sits well below the tree canopy, like a park pavilion.

Officially opened by HRH The Duke of Gloucester in 2009, the building has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise and numerous awards for innovative design, sustainability, and for respecting the built and natural environments.

'The new Rolle Estate Office marks the culmination of a vision and years of hard work by many talented and dedicated people, including the Exeter-based architects Lacey Hickie Caley, Historic England  and our own Clinton Devon Estates team. By locating the Rolle Estate Office here at Bicton, we have re-established the strong historic link between the Estate and its original centre of operations. Not only has it provided us with a geographically central and environmentally friendly base from which to run all the Estate's activities, it has also enabled the restoration of the beautiful parkland in which it is located.' - Lord Clinton, Clinton Devon Estates -

DEVELOPER: Clinton Devon Estates
ARCHITECTS: Lacy Hickie Caley, Scott Wilson (Landscape)

St James' Gateway

When advising the Crown Estate on its £500 million investment in a highly visible site in the busy heart of London's West End, we agreed that the front elevations of the buildings lining the south side of Piccadilly made a positive contribution to the Conservation Area, and should be retained; whilst the run down and cramped late Victorian and Edwardian accommodation behind was of little historic significance and so could be demolished. London has gained a development of the highest quality as a result, with a mix of newly designed and detained façades, providing commercial office and retail space and residential units. Public realm enhancements to Eagle Place, Jermyn Street, Piccadilly and Lower Regent Street, as well as a dramatic new sculpture by world-renowned artist Richard Deacon, commissioned as part of the building's Piccadilly façade, will further enhance the development.

DEVELOPERS: The Crown Estate and the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan
ARCHITECTS: Eric Parry Architects and Donald Insall

Norwood House

Norwood House is a Grade I listed building in the Beverley Conservation Area, strikingly ornamented on the outside, with fine staircases, fireplaces, stucco work and library fittings within, described by Pevsner in the Buildings of England guide as 'arguably Beverley's best Georgian house'.

All this grandeur deteriorated when the house fell out of use in 1998. Its sad fate was to be added to the Heritage At Risk Register in 2006. Efforts to find a new public use for the building foundered, so when the Brantingham Group, a local developer with a good track record in the sensitive reuse of historic buildings, applied to the local authority for a change of use to offices, we were supportive. When consent was turned down, because of the potential impact of parking on the building and its setting, we advised the developer on a reduced scheme that was finally granted consent and the building has now been successfully repaired and converted to office use, achieving a commercially viable future.

DEVELOPER: The Brantingham Group
ARCHITECT: Elevation Design