It has been another good year for the housing design practice, with architectural fees up from £10.7 million to £11.1 million and architects up from 86 to 89.
‘Even though the context is quite challenging politically, funnily enough the housing agenda is very high on the list, as is the quality agenda through the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission,’ says senior partner Teresa Borsuk. ‘We’ve really not seen a downturn in workload. Having said that, it is more of a challenging market, especially in London.’
She reports growth in the factory-built, custom-build market, where PTE’s ongoing projects include Beechwood in Basildon for Swan Housing Association. ‘Third age’ housing for retirees is also attracting a lot of interest and investment. Lots of PTE’s larger developer clients are saying they need more standardisation, and Borsuk expects a move towards what she prefers to call ‘intelligent replication’.
The practice is also designing more housing for local authority clients, with projects including the South Kilburn regeneration for the London Borough of Brent and the 70-home Dover Court Estate project for the London Borough of Islington. Regionally, PTE has seen growth in a ‘doughnut’ area around London, and in Cambridge, where it is working on the Wing urban village next to Cambridge Airport.
The year ahead is looking positive for PTE, with the prospect of some further growth. It currently has 5,624 homes under construction and 3,000 more in for planning. However, delivering quality is becoming more challenging and, amid Brexit, it has also experienced the departure of some of its non-UK staff.
‘It was a good year but you have to keep on your toes and ahead of the game,’ says Borsuk. ‘We’re spinning a lot of challenging plates. But we’re hopeful that the profession is resilient and that we are resilient.’