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Page of Consents: Forward-looking for living, learning and leisure

Will Jennings

An eco-resort, co-living space and two university projects – one with a progressive new procurement model, head this round of planning consents

We can’t be accused of London-centrism in this update of planning news. We visit Nottingham and Sheffield for major new university projects, stay in the steel city for a novel new approach to co-living with The Hive, and then head to south Wales to pick up the latest planning approval in a long saga for a vast new £250 million holiday resort.

  • 40-42 Shakespeare Street
    40-42 Shakespeare Street Credit: Tom Spall visuals
  • 40-42 Shakespeare Street
    40-42 Shakespeare Street Credit: Tom Spall visuals
  • 40-42 Shakespeare Street
    40-42 Shakespeare Street Credit: Tom Spall visuals
  • 40-42 Shakespeare Street
    40-42 Shakespeare Street Credit: Tom Spall visuals


Total gross internal area: 5300m²

Client: Nottingham Trent University

Architect: Hawkins\Brown 

Planning authority: Nottingham City Council

Planning ref: 21/00646/PFUL3 

Following recent planning approval for Aston University in Birmingham, employee-owned practice Hawkins\Brown is set to lead on another academic project, this time for Nottingham Trent University.  

The tower is intended to bring together the university’s more traditional courses in design practice including fine art, graphics and illustration, alongside newer creative technology studies including film, animation, and games design, with space for up to 1,100 students to work at any one time. To provide space for such a variety of analogue and digital practices, the architect has planned a mix of different sizes spaces across the 10 floors, with many of the specialist studios – including greenscreen and photography studios – requiring specific lighting requirements.

This has had a direct impact on the external appearance of the building, with elevations broken into solid and glazed blocks depending on internal uses. Solid parts of the facade include ceramic cladding drawing from local material and colour precedents, with the glazed areas allowing views into the building from various sightlines and distances, the cultural activities animating surrounding streets.

At the same time as the UK government is said to be considering limiting student numbers for degrees in arts and culture due to lower post-graduation salaries and slower repayment of student loans, Nottingham Trent and Hawkins\Brown are making a towering statement for future creative industry workers, a sector which the government also proudly claimed contributes £13 million into the national economy every hour, over £111bn a year.

  • BDP Campus
    BDP Campus Credit: Sheffield Hallam University
  • BDP Campus
    BDP Campus Credit: Sheffield Hallam University
  • Sheffield Hallam University
    Sheffield Hallam University Credit: BDP
  • BDP Campus
    BDP Campus Credit: Sheffield Hallam University


Total site area: 8231m²  

Client: Sheffield Hallam University 

Architect: BDP 

Planning authority: Sheffield City Council

Planning ref: 21/02802/FUL 

A new form of construction industry procurement is behind a new scheme to deliver three new buildings and a public greenspace for Sheffield Hallam University. The university has formed The Hallam Alliance with BDP-Arup leading on design, BAM for construction, and CBRE on facilities management, in a new procurement and delivery model which the members hope will inspire change across the sector. The partnership will share profits and losses, so incentives are equitable and transparent from design through to delivery and operation.

Their first project together as an alliance will be this Phase One of a 20-year plan for the university estate, starting with three new blocks offering general and specialist teaching, individual and collaborative working, study, and eating spaces. The ground floors of each block are designed around social and collaborative uses termed an ‘exchange marketplace’, including meeting places, an exhibition space, fresh food market, pop up shop and a welcome lobby. Forming an L shape around two sides of the university’s ‘Hubs’ buildings (formerly the National Centre for Popular Music, designed by Branson Coates) the ground floor spaces spill onto a new central University Green.

The new publicly accessible space is designed around desire lines between the new blocks, incorporating formal and informal seating to encourage students to use it as an extension of the ground floors. The landscaping approach extends to the rooftops; all three blocks feature roof terraces with a range of design initiatives including a dining terrace and social spaces set among wildflowers, a meadow, green wall and nature-dense biodiverse planting approaches.

  • Credit: Cartwright Pickard
  • Credit: Cartwright Pickard
  • Credit: Cartwright Pickard
  • Credit: Cartwright Pickard
  • Credit: Cartwright Pickard
  • Credit: Cartwright Pickard
  • Credit: Cartwright Pickard


Total area: 3592m² accommodation, 939m² commercial

Client: Grantside 

Architect: Cartwright Pickard 

Planning authority: Sheffield City Council

Planning ref: 21/01828/FUL 

Staying in Sheffield, a new approach to the co-living model is due following the granting of planning permission for The Hive, a ‘live-work community that promotes healthy living and wellbeing for the collective and the local community’. The design team included Life Proven as wellness consultant in a scheme designed around core principles of health, activity, nature, and technology-supported flexible social and living spaces.

Designed around a central atrium, residential floors are interspaced with social, service, and co-working spaces. Targeted at Millennials and Gen-Zers ‘with a side hustle’, key workers and empty-nesters, residents will have their pick shared amenities including a yoga space, cinema, lounge, gym, and café. Rooms (varying in size from 30m² for individuals or couples through to ‘Co-living+’ homes of 82m², with two double beds) are designed around efficiency and daylight, with customisable ‘live walls’. A building app will help all the residents manage bookings of the amenity spaces and their social interaction with other members.

The external material palette speaks to the city’s industrial heritage – weathered steel expresses the structure at ground level, with weathered steel panelling as the main facade, and a standing seam aluminium-clad sawtooth roof top floor. As a ‘lean clean green’ building, it is targeted to be net-zero carbon, meaning its annual emissions are zero or negative, many years in advance of the government’s 2030 target for all new buildings.

  • Forest Zone entrance
    Forest Zone entrance Credit: Powell Dobson
  • Trax and Trails zone
    Trax and Trails zone Credit: Powell Dobson


Total site area: 132.5 hectares

Client: Wildfox Resorts 

Architect: Powell Dobson 

Planning authority: Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council

Planning ref: P2018/0493 

Local councillors have signed off again with conditional outline planning on a vast eco-resort for south Wales. The 132ha scheme achieved planning consent in early 2019, though the project collapsed just a few months later when The Guardian and ITV launched a joint investigation into Gavin Woodhouse, the businessman behind the funding through his Northern Powerhouse Development organisation. There are ongoing Serious Fraud Office investigations into Woodhouse.

However, the scheme, which comprises eco-lodges for family holidays for around £815 per three night stay with leisure activities, didn’t quite disappear. Former director Peter Moore, who had no connection to Woodhouse’s funding strategy, continued discussions with the council, and has now formed an entirely new delivery team, Wildfox, backed by the Salamanaca Group to deliver the £250 million project.

Architecturally, Powell Dobson looks set to be busy developing its plans ahead of detailed planning consent, which is hoped for by June 2022. Across four villages – Alpine, Forest, X-Sports, and Trax n Trails – themed activities such as off-road biking, surfing, survival training and zorbing, will be arranged across the site’s topography with 600 lodges and a 100-room hotel dispersed among the trees and hills. The Plaza will be at the centre of the site, a linear-formed building which would step up the shallow hillside, forming a central socialising, eating, and drinking space which, if all progresses as planned, the first guests will be enjoying in 2024.



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