An 'Urban Splash' in Cambridge

March 14th, 2005
Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

"I can say no more. They are an inspiration to us all"
Professional delegate

Urban Splash

Urban SplashPatrick Sheridan, of Urban Splash, (the cutting edge Manchester-based development company behind some of the U.K’s most exciting urban developments), spoke about the work of Urban Splash to professionals and a 6th Form audience on 14 th March 2005. The event was held at the newly built auditorium in Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.

‘Our approach differs from the norm. We challenge convention. We design with imagination. Our buildings work for the people inside them – and the city beyond. Result: a catalogue of spectacular spaces where urban residents and workers thrive together’ - Urban Splash

Shape East, sponsors EEDA (the East of England Development Agency), the CITB and the Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry invited Urban Splash to the event to inspire the next generation of built environment professionals by providing a dynamic introduction to future careers in construction, urban design, architecture, and engineering.

Urban Splash is renowned for its award-winning regeneration projects. This year the developer plans to spend £70 million on regeneration and development projects in Sheffield , Leeds , Middlesbrough , Salford , Birmingham , Walsall , Bristol and Cardiff . The company has won 128 awards for its work so far, including 26 citations from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The New Urban Village

Urban Splash specialise in the regeneration of large derelict commercial buildings in depressed inner city areas. These industrial hulks are in poor shape, the result of years of abuse and neglect but also very often hampered by being listed. The complications of site purchase, lack of desirability of the area and vast costs involved had been a risk no other developers would take on.

‘What better way to use the reminders of Britain ’s industrial heyday’ than to transform these greatUrban Splash buildings into magnets for the business of today. Whilst retaining their character and heritage, we’re redefining the function of these great urban landmarks to attract today’s dynamic industries and leading edge retailers. In doing so we’ve restored the vitality and life into surrounding communities’. Urban Splash

The work of Urban Splash coincides with recent national and international policies for inner city regeneration, brown field development and more creative architecture in such areas, as outlined in the Government’s Sustainable Communities Plan and the Urban White Paper entitled “Delivering an Urban Renaissance.” The Sustainable Communities Plan was launched in February 2003 with a pledge by the Government to provide £22 billion in funding for related schemes from 2003-2006. Urban Splash communities prove beyond doubt that with imagination and effort this agenda is a real goal.

Tom Bloxham and Jonathan Faulkingham set up Urban Splash in 1993. Today, Urban Splash developments are seen as changing depressed areas into thriving urban villages with residential and commercial projects now total over 1,000 new dwellings and workspaces. Following the recent regeneration of the Royal William Yard in Plymouth , the scheme was so successful, that on the first day of sales 2,000 to 3,000 people visited and £15 million in apartment space was sold.

Urban SplashUrban Splash developments create a true social mix with social housing lying alongside executive apartments. The developments attract the young: graphic designers and creative companies, high-tech communications businesses, architecture practices, fashion retailers, specialty music stores. There are food shops and cafes and bars to bring life to these communities.

Sheridan comments: ‘Urban Splash works on the basis that any urban development is about more than just bricks and mortar. It is about enlightened design, creating new communities, enhancing people’s lifestyles, that’s what makes us different.’

Urban splash have the vision and confidence to have a fresh approach. One of their largest projects now underway is the New Islington development in Manchester , which covers 30 acres half a mile from the city centre. Urban Splash is incorporating and expanding the waterways of the area into the design scheme, which has made the company the largest canal builder in the country at this time.

Much of this success, Sheridan feels, is down to simple logic. This underlying philosophy has driven all their schemes.

There are a number of elements to a successful regeneration scheme. Community consultation is a key factor, Sheridan explained. Such public deliberations bring confidence and certainty to development plans, which in turn increase investor confidence and make projects more sustainable.

In addition a high-quality design for each project is integral to the success of their developments. The buildings need to be flexible over time to address the changing needs of the community and the regional economy.

Urban Splash is not afraid to work in partnership. It has collaborated on projects with many agencies including English Partnerships and spends considerable energy on land assembly. It works.

Urban splash are leading by example. They are creating stunning modern design in the industrial and derelict landscapes of our inner cities. They insist on quality at every stage and by creating real mixed use developments they create and improve the community. This is what sustainable communities is all about.

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