14 Nov 2018

'Bristol is a Perfect Home For Bold and Forward Thinking Commercial Developments'

Wates Construction recently welcomed the BCO to view construction progress at 3 Glass Wharf in Bristol, soon to be home to HMRC. Here, Alec Jackman discusses the important role commercial developments are playing in today’s uncertain economic climate... 

“At a time of uncertainty for the UK, as our impending exit from the European Union looms, there is understandable concern of what the future may hold for Britain’s economy. However, as negotiations with Brussels continue, the construction industry is weathering the storm with output rising every month since April*. The overall rate of expansion in UK construction in October proved to be the second largest in 16 months and this was thanks in no small part to growth in commercial construction activity. 

“Within my region, Bristol is a perfect example of how bold and forward thinking commercial developments are able to provide a city with a real economic boost. Indeed, as the city increasingly competes with larger cities such as Manchester and Birmingham for investment, demand is starting to outstrip supply, with property agents now warning of a shortage of Cat A and Cat B fit outs for expanding professional services firms. 

“This fantastic city is already home to some major global players and the calibre of their office spaces should and does reflect this. This can also be seen in our continuing presence at Salmon Harvester Properties’ Glass Wharf development at the city’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone. 

“We handed over 2 Glass Wharf in 2016 and it is now home to PwC, Grant Thornton, Foot Anstey LLP and Arcadis Group. Fast forward to 2018 and construction is nearing completion at 3 Glass Wharf which is seeing us build 15,000 sq m. of Cat A office space to be occupied by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as part of its regional centres programme. This HMRC modernisation plan alone is yielding significant economic boosts for the regions in which new centres like this are based, providing high quality, skilled jobs in modern, cost-effective buildings. 

“Programme certainty and quality are always critical within office developments and particularly here where HMRC has a strict timetable in which to achieve its comprehensive UK wide estates transformation. So our work is continuing apace and we recently hosted a visit from the BCO to share best practice about our experiences and achievements at this prime Bristol office development. 

“These include our efforts to be a force for good and investing a targeted £24,000 into social enterprises as part of our project supply chain. We have also appointed subcontractors from within a 30-mile radius of the site. 

“Most recently, our presence in the area has resulted in the renovation and fit out of a 19th century classroom at Hannah Moore Primary School nearby. Thanks to a £10,000 Wates Giving grant, this has been transformed into a ‘Nurture Room’ to provide emotional, social and behavioural support to the school’s pupils. 

“While the impact of Brexit remains unknown, construction firms like us at Wates need to continue working closely with the BCO as well as developers and investors in order to continue creating dynamic office buildings that will entice major players from the public and the private sector to new sites throughout the country. This is proving to be the key to economic stability in an uncertain time.” 

Alec Jackman is Business Unit Director for Wates Construction in the Southern Home Counties.

*IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index

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