I left school at 16 and started working in a draughtsman’s office for a short while. I then joined Stephenson Mills working with Roger and George. I was all set to go to Liverpool University to study architecture when I met Nick Johnson (who later founded Urban Splash with Tom Bloxham). He’d just completed his degree in Urban Land economics at Sheffield Hallam University and had planned to be a developer. I thought ‘Aha, this is what I want to be’. I had worked with developer clients as a technician, and I realised that this was an option for me. I then got my MRICS and surveying qualifications. I really liked the idea of being involved in the whole process, rather than just a part of it.
Although the Reebok and Lowry jobs are the attention-grabbing ones, I played a smaller part in those. The job I spent most time and had most involvement with was the redevelopment of the Castlefield Chapel, the space we created was almost like a piece of art. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent on that! Architecturally, it’s right up there – although it didn’t do so well financially, as this was around the time of the financial crash. At Dandara, where we acquired land and planning for hundreds of units – that was a significant achievement. I’d now put Windswood up there too.
We’re always looking to see if we can add value or explore options and opportunities that perhaps others haven’t. Windswood is a good example of this. There was existing planning permission for six apartments but I felt that wasn’t really what the market wanted. So in conjunction with OSA we redesigned the layout completely, based on my research into what I felt the Bowdon/Hale market were looking for. It became apparent that they were looking for large, lateral apartments. At 4,000 square feet they’re the largest that I’m aware of in the area and based on just a handful of conversations, it’s making them a very attractive proposition. You’ve got to do your homework, and you need to work very closely with your architects to deliver something that really differentiates you from others.
Yes, I have moved more towards high end, high value projects. I would say I’m quite opportunistic – I wouldn’t say no to anything, although I have walked away from a number of projects that have just not been right. It’s about balancing what the marketplace is looking for and seeing an opportunity that others may have missed.
I would like to create something really contemporary and modern. My experience of dealing with planners and conservation officers is that they often have more traditional, conservative taste. In many areas building design can sometimes suffer due to trying to produce something that will meet compliance – if handled badly, that can end up looking like a pastiche. I’d also like to explore sustainable and eco possibilities further.
I really enjoy the initial stages – coming up with the best solution for the site and the possibilities it offers. And balancing the architect’s creative input alongside the overall viability of the project. Architects tend to bring their own spin to the job but I like that they push it further creatively – it can always be reined back. I also enjoy working with our interior designers. They have an amazing attention to detail and source things that I would never be able to. I like bringing unexpected but thoughtful touches into play, like the heated driveway flags that mean driving in and out of Windswood on an icy day isn’t a hazard. Ditto the thumbprint recognition and refuse chute that takes your recycling straight to the basement. The last one isn’t very glamorous but we think about these things so that residents don’t have to.
My original development pipeline has changed – but there’s still some really interesting possibilities on the horizon. Like I said, I never rule anything out – George Street is a good example of that. And I’m looking forward to seeing Windswood completed – as it goes up you can really get a sense of the scale of the living space and I can’t wait to step into the completed apartments.
Paul has over 35 years experience and expertise in the property world, which he brings to the team at Prestbury Estates. Paul has been heavily involved in some of the North West’s leading development and regeneration schemes (Middlebrook in Bolton, Horwich Loco Works, The Lowry in Salford Quays, to name but a few).
As a property development and investment professional, with over 35 years’ experience, and a practising Lawyer, Paul is the founder and managing director of ADRA, a business advisory and consulting business which primarily focuses on the residential and commercial real estate and construction sectors, with particular knowledge and experience in the North West marketplace.
Combining his commercial awareness and strategic ability, he has been instrumental at board level in significant business growth at the Emerson Group – one of the largest privately-owned property companies in UK (1988-2017), and at De Trafford Group where he was Chief Operating Officer (2017-19). A qualified solicitor for over 35 years, he also has an in-depth knowledge of commercial and domestic property law, planning and employment law, construction law, as well as contract and legislative requirements. As Prestbury Estates evolves, we are delighted to have Paul on board.
Phil has worked within the construction industry for more than 35 years with a career that has seen him work for key national contractors in delivering prestigious projects throughout the UK.
He has been responsible for managing multi-million pound businesses and although he operated nationally he has always been based in the North West, where he has been involved in numerous projects including The Trafford Centre, Beetham Tower, Great Northern Tower together with many other high quality projects that have set new standards in the region.
Following his career with blue chip organisations including Carillion, Bovis and AMEC, Phil established a bespoke construction consultancy business to provide clients with his extensive experience, knowledge and advice in establishing effective approaches to the smooth delivery of construction projects. Delivering to the common goals of time, cost and quality are key to great projects. Phil helps bring together the extensive skills of key individual organisation to deliver mutual goals as effectively as possible.
Phil brings his extensive knowledge and skills to Prestbury Estates as the organisation evolves and establishes its unique offering within the property market in the North West.