We strive to improve well-being and pride within communities.

Community

U+I aims to be pioneering in its approach to community engagement and we continue to push for innovation and leadership in this area. We bring investment, short- and long-term employment, and local economic development and we change the perception of previously deprived areas, unleashing new vitality and acting as a catalyst for future prosperity.

We begin adding value from the planning stages of a project. We get under the skin of the local area and consult with people from the community, the local council and other important stakeholders as we plan the development, seeking to understand the needs, history and significance of a place. Our skilful stakeholder engagement approach brings communities together to successfully change the perception of the area, facilitating and integrating the transformation between old and new.

The Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes is a case in point. Established in 1907 as the headquarters of EMI and His Master’s Voice on a 17-acre site in Hayes, West London, this site has a unique architectural, cultural and industrial history, but had been overlooked for years. We wanted to draw inspiration from the past to reinvigorate the site in its next phase of life. So when our place making activity began in 2012, we opened a new café and temporary museum about the site’s industrial history. We brought in upcoming musicians to film The Old Vinyl Factory Sessions in the hallowed factory halls, literally ‘bringing music back’ to the place. The strong narrative about the history and potential future of the site has attracted new funding and delivery partners which is ultimately enabling us to transform the site into intelligently designed workplaces, entertainment venues, shops and homes in art deco landmarks and smart contemporary buildings, set around colourful new public plazas.

Building on the heritage of the site, we’ve re-created EMI’s Central Research Laboratory (CRL), now fully equipped with the latest in rapid-prototyping technology to act as the UK’s first incubator space for manufacturing start-ups and provide a hub for creative commercial innovation in the 21st Century. In this way, we are encouraging the growth of some of the UK’s most pioneering inventors, designers and engineers, adding to the life and vibrancy of the site. In September 2016 we’ll welcome the first students to Global Academy, a University Technical College specialising in music and media studies for ages 14-18.

The Old Vinyl Factory was featured in the Town and Country Planning Association’s (TCPA) Guide for Creating Successful New Communities as a key example of using culture and the arts to make links with the community for long-term benefits. This is by no means a unique example of our approach, as the wide range of projects in our portfolio and featured case studies demonstrate.

Enhancing communities is integral to our business strategy. It enables us to prove the vitality of our regeneration schemes to joint venture partners, local authorities, and future investors; it increases the value of the assets in our investment portfolio; it supports us in securing new PPP projects and in accessing long-term investment capital.

Environment

We deliver high quality developments, and this encompassesa commitment to delivering environmental quality. Environmental sustainability aspects are integrated into our template brief for development and construction. We take a practical approach, guided by the National Planning Policy Framework, which focusses on measuring our impacts in terms of energy, carbon, water and waste. As yet we do not set project-specific environmental performance targets, but may do so as we build up a robust bank of data. Moreover, environmental sustainability aspirations on a project basis are determined by our stakeholders and the expectations of the market. Beyond ensuring that we meet all statutory requirements, we meet industry standards such as BREEAM and integrate more innovative environmental features as and where this is requested by partners, tenants, potential buyers and/or capital partners. As such, we have delivered some notable achievements on key projects.

We endeavour to meet the aspirations of clients, partners and local authorities with regard to environmental quality standards.

399 Edgware Road is a mixed-use regeneration scheme encompassing c.130,000 sq. ft. of high quality retail space, 183 residential units and space for a school. We have already achieved a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating for the base build design stage and are on target to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ post-construction for the foodstore and retail units. The residential component has been designed to attain Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, exceeding the minimum standards for new housing in termsof energy/water consumption, pollution and waste management. Furthermore, the development incorporates an on-site energy centre which, among other features, includes a facility where we capture waste heat from the retail units to purge the residential heating and provide for PV panels to generate electricity and enhance the heat storage capacity. The site as a whole delivers a 25% improvement on building regulations, meeting the sustainability objectives of the London Plan.

At Brunel Place in Slough we’re developing 350,000 sq.ft. of office space across three striking commercial buildings as part of the wider £450 million Heart of Slough town centre regeneration. We’re proud to have already achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ design stage rating for the development which boasts a range of sustainability features including green rooftop spaces, extensive cycling facilities, PV panels, LED lighting, provision for connection to the district heating scheme and highly water efficient fittings and systems.

We are already proactively measuring the energy, carbon, water and waste performance of our schemes’ construction works and seeking solutions that minimise environmental impact and maximise cost and resource efficiencies. As part of a long-standing focus on our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, we are calculating the embodied carbon of all our developments up to practical completion and comparing the data with previous projects as well as industry benchmarks. As we commence a new development, our external environmental consultants hold at least two briefing sessions with the design team and contractors to explain why and how the embodied carbon is calculated to ensure that the required data is collected correctly. We have found that this approach has increased awareness of the environmental impacts of the development process and it now helps to inform decisions around material selection and procurement on a regular basis. The constant aim is to improve on previous performance. This can be challenging given the varied nature of the development pipeline, but as our development portfolio matures, so the dataset of comparable projects grows, allowing for better quality benchmarking.

During the year, for The Square, Hale Barns in Manchester, a redevelopment project completed in March 2015, we compared the embodied carbon (calculated as 1978.63 tCO2e) to an industry benchmark and values for other representative buildings. We found that the embodied carbon for this project is 61% lower than the RICS benchmark and considerably lower than one of our competitors’ benchmarks, although this is largely due to the difference in building types. At both The Old Vinyl Factory and 12 Hammersmith Grove we recycled 97% of construction waste whilst The Deptford Project successfully diverted 100% of waste from landfill.