Simon writes for the RIBA Journal


A key aspect of working in Yorkshire is about making places attractive to secure visitors and revenue. There are areas of our towns and cities that still are under-utilised, with vacant property. Consequently, there isn't enough intensity of activity; driving footfall to establish an attractive destination is paramount to the success of a business proposition. Projects are decided on sustainability of use and revenue streams rather than asset value uplift alone.

The opportunity therefore exists to create places and spaces of distinction, where design capitalises on existing asset character. The curation of place and the choice to retain or remove existing building fabric is a key consideration at the outset of regional development plans. There are significant numbers of existing buildings where reappropriation and refurbishment prove to be more attractive than building renewal. 'Dead landmarks' reduce the attractiveness of an area. Our experience shows that the integration of historic buildings with regeneration schemes can create popular, stimulating destinations and act as a catalyst for further investment. Developers and investors who have taken a patient approach to capital recognise that the long term returns can be favourable.

This is particularly so with redevelopments in an improving market area, such as has been experienced with Marshall's Mill and Tower Works in Holbeck Urban Village in Leeds. In such areas a careful curation of refurbished property and new build is changing perception of the area.

We are also seeing greater appetite for establishing interesting mixes of uses, with individual buildings supporting mulitple occupiers. Celebrating the users and their activities, while amplifying the uniqueness of buildings and place, can only be to the advantage of the development and the wider area. This subtle stiching and repair of buildings and place is a key aspect of development in the region.