Tag Archives: WCEC

The value of writing blogs

It’s my little blog sites third birthday this week! In that time it’s had over 65,000 views, amazingly from every corner of the world too. 33,000 views were in 2014 alone and I posted 37 blogs over that period. Today’s post is my 100th in total.

Writing posts on my blog is something I’ve enjoyed doing, albeit finding time to write them is a challenge at present! However, I still get really positive comments, very regularly, from people I know and see on my business travels. It’s also something people mention when I first meet them which is good I guess. I conclude from the above that people seem to have enjoyed reading a few posts over the time and therefore I should keep blogging.

In my experience blogs are a really good way of growing and maintaining your profile, whilst also conveying a personality and public voice on issues which are of importance or interest to you. It’s also very good for promoting your business generally which is what’s really important to me.

I’ve tried to keep my content varied, but mostly architecture/ design focused in some way. Last year I recorded just under 2400 views on one day in May and the most popular post that day was WCEC Student Living Launch. Since then we are now actively engaged on four major Student Living projects, with a number of other potentials in the pipeline too. Of the four, there is a real mix of design/ delivery, refurbishment, new-build on and off campus. I’m really pleased with our business growth in this key sector at WCEC over the last year. We now have a dedicated team driving this sector and we are using Revit of course to maximise our efficiency and outputs. I’m still developing some new design concept ideas as well which my clients always like to discuss.

A couple of blogs last year also got me some wider (perhaps unintended) public attention…

There is a proposed housing development in Allestree where I live. It’s on open farm land and has attracted a lot of local resistance! I posted a blog on it back in July and a week later I had been invited by our local MP to stand and lead a talk in front of 200+ people about the Planning process. I was happy to do this, but I didn’t get drawn into the big ‘Say No’ campaign! For me I think the outcome is inevitable. Click here to see the blog.

More recently I had what I’d describe as a ‘parking episode’ at Derby Railway station which, quite frankly infuriated me. I’ve tried not to use the blog as a means to rant openly, but I wanted to make my point publicly after the way I’d been treated. Click here to see it. This post ended up, word for word, across two pages in my local paper and I got lots of social media/ online comments about it. Incidentally, that issue with East Midlands trains ended up with me paying a £35 parking fine and receiving a £50 reimbursement for my late train which I opted to pursue for the first time. I wonder how much the issue cost East Midlands trains in negative press and administration time!

Anyway, back on to more positive things again – thanks very much for calling in over the years and reading a few blogs…hopefully I’ll be able to keep them coming in 2015. I do always really appreciate the feedback too. I’ll be back again soon…


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.


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

Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice

Since joining WCEC just over a month ago, one (of the many) thing’s I’ve been really impressed with is the charity support the business promotes. A large proportion of our 100+ strong staff team enjoy exercise/ sporting pursuits, this includes; football, running, golf and cycling – and there are numerous groups/ teams who do this together.

Team WCEC & FriendsLast year the company raised over £4500 for our charity, Bluebell Wood Children’s hospice. A lot of this was achieved by linking our sporting interests to charity fund raising. We have a number of annual events such as the recent Dronfield 10k run which a large number of staff took part in.

On the 12th April one of our Partners James Kemp and Associate Andy Dabbs are following their beloved football team, Sheffield United, down to Wembley for the FA Cup semi-final match with Hull City. But they are riding the 185 mile journey on their bikes! You can sponsor their efforts by clicking here

DSC03228 I’d like you to understand our charity support a little more…

The Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice charity was established 1998 to offer care and support to children with a shortened life expectancy, both in peoples own homes and at their hospice in North Anston which was purpose built in 2008. I’m sure this is a difficult subject for some people to consider, especially for those with children like myself. But this charity is doing some amazing work and I’m sure they can always benefit and provide more if they can continue raising much needed funds through generous donations.

They provide a range of care and support services to young people within specialist facilities which can cater for a wide range of needs, but importantly; they do this is an environment that feels safe, homely and unlike a hospital. Their objective is to give these young people some love and laughter; ‘enjoyment’ in a life which is otherwise challenging for some reason, or at such a critical time near the end of their short lives. There are perhaps few happy endings here, but the work of this charity is so, so important in providing the best possible care for both young people and their families. Perhaps most importantly Bluebell Wood can provide the best possible and most comfortable ending, which can include some lasting and happy memories for their families. That’s pretty special.

bluebell_wood_hospice_logoI already donate to a select number of charities such as Asthma Research (following my Mum’s death) and the RNLI for their great work in saving lives in our domestic sea waters, but Bluebell Wood have a new supporter in me, as well as through our company fundraising. I’ve recently found out that they are running a skydive later this year…watch this space!

Amazing work and an incredibly worthy cause. Please support them by giving a little – or a lot! Follow them on Twitter @BluebellWoodCH or click here for their website www.bluebellwood.org/

What makes MIPIM unique?

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed by since I was last in Cannes for MIPIM; The international property conference. It’s a big event attracting around 25,000 delegates from around the world. The theme of course is Property Development and people from every area of the sector come along to network and seek deals and opportunities. High profile attendees this year include; Boris Johnson, The Candy brothers and ex-Manchester United player Gary Neville, who will be talking about his development company.

mipim25Two very common questions I often get asked…

What is so special about MIPIM?
Why go to Cannes to meet people from the UK?

If you’ve not been, it’s perhaps easy to imagine that this is a jolly. It’s certainly set in a stunning location where the sun is shining and there is a lot of money floating around; expensive hotels and restaurants, big boats and fast cars. But, being here in my third year now, I can tell you that it’s hard work. People are here for a good reason; to do business. I have over 30 appointments in my diary over the next 3 days. I will be up and out by around 7am and back again after midnight. It’s a marathon. My intention is simple; to return with as many contacts and leads as possible.

The entire MIPIM event is unique. The environment sets the scene for a very different mindset. People, generally representing the top of their respective organisations, are away from their day-to-day working routines. There are no boardroom formalities and people aren’t thinking about a hundred other things. Generally people are here to focus on the job in hand. Therefore you can connect with people so much more easily – and they are much more receptive to talking. This is what makes MIPIM special.

I’m representing my new company WCEC this year, in only my second week with the company! We have some great experience and current projects to talk about this week. Our company has been built up through our long standing partnerships with Morrisons and Asda. This has enabled us to build a strong port-folio of town centre regeneration, supermarkets, convenience stores, mixed-use regeneration and also logistics/ industrial, to name just a few. Beyond that our recent work has included hotels, leisure and residential.

Residential has been a big growth area for the business in recent years. Our teams are currently working on a number of high-profile urban developments in London and the South East. Our signature project at present is Royal Wharf in the Docklands, the first phase of which is worth £250m. We have also built up a team delivering Permitted Development projects for Office to Residential conversions.

Delivering all of the above, is a focused and diverse team of around 120 staff offering a broad range of group services. A key one at present being BIM (Building Information Modelling). We have been actively involved in BIM for around 8 years now – there’s probably not that many architects who can say that! Until last week my knowledge of BIM was pretty limited. It strikes me that there is a lot of ‘talk’ about BIM, but a lot of people probably don’t understand it and are certainly not well placed to effectively deliver it. I am in no doubt; BIM is the future to delivering buildings and running them for their lifetime. WCEC are delivering projects for all our clients in BIM, using Revit and a number of other programmes. We believe we have developed a real expertise in BIM, so we have a separate consultancy which provides services to the wider construction sector. This is in big demand at present.

Whilst I’m over here, in between my meetings, I’ll be seeking an overview of the property markets. What’s the forecast? Is London really over heating? Are the regions coming back? I’ll be spending time at the London, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds stands. I’ll also be seeing my good friends and acquaintances at “Team Talented Nottingham” to learn more about Nottingham and the East Midlands plans. You can see the brand new Invest in Nottingham website here. They also have a MIPIM specific website here.

Royal WharfI’ll be blogging a bit more through the week, as and when I get a few moments…?


The next chapter. WCEC Architects

If you’ve been following my blog recently you’ll know by now that I’ve now left Lewis and Hickey. The last week has been emotional, but enjoyable, saying thank you and goodbye to lots of friends. I’ve had some really positive feedback from all sorts of people, both within and outside of the business, about my departure from L&H. Thank you sincerely for your kind sentiments and best wishes.

The future looks exciting for me. I’m certainly looking forward to getting started now at WCEC. I’ll be based in the Chesterfield office where around a hundred staff work from. That means they we are one of the largest practices in the East Midlands! Although, being honest, a lot of people don’t know of WCEC. This is something the business is already aware of. Part of my role will be to help develop the profile of the company to a wider audience/ client base. I believe I’ve already done this to some extent at L&H, so hopefully I can add value through my experience. I’ll also be working from the London office which is developing a strong client base and workload in the South East. My time in London has increased over the last couple of years due to clients being based there, so a physical presence there will be good for me and the company.

You can expect to hear lots about my work and the business on this little blog which has created a good following in the last two years.

First of all I will be heading over to MIPIM next week in Cannes! I’ve attended for the previous two years and according to Reed Midem I’m now a “Silver” delegate?! I’ll be flying the flag for WCEC – and no doubt catching up with a few known faces whilst out there too. My diary is already looking rather full, but don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you’re going…

west hamstead square

Image above | West Hamstead Square, London.

Who are WCEC?…

Celebrating over 40 years as Commercial Architects, WCEC has developed a reputation for design and technical excellence which puts us at the forefront of commercial architecture in the UK.

The practice specialises in town centre urban regeneration schemes, and is currently working on multi-million pound schemes with some of the biggest developers in the industry to transform the fortunes of towns up and down the country.

Renowned for many years as the UK’s leading designers of out of town retail developments, we have diversified over the years and now deliver innovative and sustainable town centre schemes which not only encompass retail, but also leisure, residential, hotels, offices and business parks.

We pride ourselves in creating innovative design that meets client aspirations and is delivered both on time and to budget.  Our success is evidenced by our long term relationships with clients such as retail giants ASDA and Morrisons and year on year increases in turnover, profitability and workload.

The business is wholly owned and operated by three partners; Alex Wall, Ashley Turner and James Kemp.

What sectors are we active in?…

Mixed-use | Residential | Retail | Commercial | Leisure

What service offerings do we have?…

WCEC offer a complete range of in-house Architectural services which includes; design, master-planning, interior design, technical production and visualisations/ animations.

The business has already invested heavily in BIM in recent years and is using Revit extensively in a number of work sectors. There is still a lot of debate in the industry about BIM, but it really is moving fast now and a lot of companies are getting on board. We also offer separate BIM consultancy services to the wider construction sector and that is seeing some strong demand at present as other firms get to grips with the new generation.

Our sustainability services include; BREEAM accredited professionals, Code for Sustainable Homes assessors and membership of the Green Register of Construction Professionals. This enables us to combine our commercial background with specialist informed understanding to offer holistically sustainable design.

One development  I’m likely to be have some level of involvement in is Royal Wharf in the Docklands. It’s a project with Ballymore and is described as ‘A new waterside village for London’. This scheme, located adjacent to the Thames Barrier, was in Property Week last Friday.

Royal wharf_LRImage above | Royal Wharf, London.

So that’s a brief introduction to WCEC. As I said; you’ll hear more going forward. But please don’t hesitate to contact us should you wish to know more about our business…