Despite experiencing a stop-start housing market brought on by Brexit, Pollard Thomas Edwards (PTE) upped total income by 12 per cent in 2017 and added another seven UK architects to take its total to 86. Partner Patrick Devlin describes it as a ‘great’ year.
He says: ‘One of the trends we noticed is an increasing demand for us to deliver the projects for which we get planning. This goes back several years, but means that in 2017 we had an unusually large number of projects on site.’
Although housing remains the practice’s mainstay, 2017 saw a continued increase in related mixed-use work, including schools, workplace, retail, cinemas, and the practice’s first mosque (in Tower Hamlets). Key new wins include a competition to design a mixed-use leisure building, including a 10-screen cinema and six restaurants, as part of plans to regenerate Basildon town centre, where PTE is working with Swan Housing to create a new mixed-use neighbourhood. In Chelmsford, PTE finished the first phase of the mixed-use Central Chelmsford development, designed to re-link the centre of the town to the station.
Its housing work is fairly evenly split between public and private sector. PTE has been exploring new housing models, such as community-led housing and customisation, with work starting on offsite manufacturing prototypes for its Beechwood West custom-build development in Basildon.
The practice continues to grow its work in Third Age housing, which Devlin estimates has doubled over the last three years, often integrated within larger developments.
As London becomes increasingly unaffordable, there is more potential for housing in the regions and the challenge, says Devlin, is to design appealing places with the right transport and social infrastructure that people want to live in.
Devlin reports a very full order book for 2018, with PTE at its biggest ever. ‘Our intention is not to grow more but to do what we do better and more profitably,’ he says.