WCEC Student Living launch

I have spent a number of years now designing and delivering contemporary purpose built student accommodation developments for a wide range of clients. In all I’ve overseen the delivery of around 14,000 beds to date.

Today I’m heading down to London to speak on a panel at a national
Student Housing conference hosted by LD events. This event pulls over 300 delegates to discuss the sectors activity and predictions for the coming year. I’ll be speaking about design evolution and also the emergence of branded environments in Student Living.

This week is quite a big one for me actually. WCEC have launched our Student Living sector and team following a number of new project enquiries since I joined the business back in March. We have a very strong offer through our sector specific experienced team of around 15 design and technical staff, amongst our 120 strong overall team. The team have been doing some work recently on developing some new concepts for Student Living as part of this launch. These designs focus on specific details to promote efficiency of optimised use of space.

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Also this week, I have accepted an initiation to sit on a development sub committee for the British Property Federation Student Accommodation group. This is led by Richard Simpson of Unite Students and Charles Marshall of Liberty Living. I’m delighted to be contributing to this important and influential work. The BPF team engage with central government on all Student Living and Higher Education related policy matters.

According to Universities UK’s latest UK-wide study on the impact of the higher education sector on the UK economy, universities now generate £73 billion in output – up (24%) from £59 billion when the last study was published in 2009. This puts higher education ahead of many other UK sectors, including basic pharmaceuticals, air transport, advertising and market research, legal services and computer manufacturing.

Student Living, alongside Higher Education, is now being taken very seriously. It’s matured as an asset class in its own right and will continue to form an important sector within property.

You can read a bit more about this news on our website by clicking here.

If you wish to learn more about our business, our student living design ideas or our new team, please don’t hesitate to contact me. My email address is nick.riley@wcec.co.uk

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Spooks Movie | The Greater Good

For a number of years I’ve followed the BBC Television series Spooks. It ran from 2002 until 2011 and gave a fictional impression of the leading MI5 department within the British Secret Services. The lead character was Harry Pearce played by Peter Firth.

It was a high budget and high pressure production which always ended with a nail biting cliffhanger. Some of the stories were very topical in relation to current affairs with modern political, cultural and religious conflicts forming strong story lines. This gave it a distinct feel of authenticity. Arguably it was a much more realistic version of James Bond!

I really enjoyed watching the 10 series which were aired. It was a shame the BBC axed it. I always wondered whether some of the content was in fact a bit too close to reality. As a regular London visitor, you do wonder about some of the underworld intelligence activity which is no doubt happening around you at times.

I crossed Waterloo bridge yesterday with a couple of colleagues and we realised we were walking through a a fairly substantial film set up. When we saw the clapperboard it said “Spooks”! It’s back. But this time it’s a film.

spooksStaring Peter Firth, Kit Harrington, Elyes Gabel and Jennifer Ehle (we saw Peter and Jennifer acting on the bridge), the film is a story about a terrorist escape, followed by the disappearance of ‘Harry’. The race is on to determine what’s happened as an impending attack on London looms.

Film production started in March 2014 and is apparently expected to take less than three months. The film uses a wide range of locations, including a recent busy traffic scene under a flyover in Coventry (which was meant to be the M4).

You can read a bit more about the forthcoming film by clicking here.

I’m looking forward to seeing Spooks make a return and I’m sure the big screen version will be excellent!

Where’s the Respect?

Last night I watched the Panorama programme ‘Behind Closed Doors’, which exposed what ‘could’ be a fairly common issue with poor quality care being provided for older people living in Care homes. Some scenes were disturbing. There was a fundamental disrespect from some staff towards these dependant people who just wanted, it seemed, some time, respect and compassion in their support needs.

It’s perhaps easy to generalise here and I do accept that there is some excellent care provision out there for old people. But how can we guarantee it? This subject is particularly relevant to me as we have a family member who really needs to be in a care home now, but these decisions are very difficult to make and can affect a lot of people. Making an objective decision based on someone’s needs, but with such a strong emotional aspect to it all, does confuse the matter.

If the Panorama programme is accurate, then some serious intervention is required by company owners and regulators to improve this. Better accountability and governance is necessary. Perhaps cameras in homes is the only way, but this doesn’t provide privacy for people.

It’s worth remembering that Care homes are generally profitable companies and are phenomenally expensive to live in; £500-700 a week is fairly common and some people are self-funding this. The ‘sell’ is a lifestyle which for some may be just right, but others, hopefully a minority, are buying a false dream.

Sadly, I think the problem here is much wider spread. Lacking respect for other people in society is a cultural issue. My wife and I were in a hospital the other day; it was a very ‘multi-cultural’ experience sitting in the waiting area. I actually felt uncomfortable sitting near some people who had such a blatant disrespect for others in their actions, and their children’s too – there was a real arrogance. In this instance, it seemed that technology was partly to blame as two parents were glued to their phones, while their young child roamed around swearing with a games device in his hand.

I think these abuse issues aren’t just happening in care homes. Anyone who is dependant on support may be exposed to this unbelievable behaviour; children’s nurseries and hospitals being just two other obvious examples.

Improving these issues is complex, but society in general, it seems to me, lacks respect for others and this is having a real impact in some specific situations and adversely affecting people lives.

How sad. Where’s the respect? What a sad way for these people to spend the final chapter of their life.