Last week we announced our latest development, the Gateway at Peak. The Gateway at Peak will be the country’s first national park gateway, to its first national park, The Peak District. Working with a number of regional stakeholders and Birchall Properties, it is set to become an exemplar for sustainable tourism in the UK. Read more on the story here. We are currently engaged in a marketing and research phase, talking to local and national brands, exploring partnership and commercial opportunities.

If you would like to find out more, please visit or contact Melanie Taylor.

After The Estates Gazette broke the announcement, the story was covered by a number of other titles. Here’s a round up of the trade, national and local coverage the story received.



Estates Gazette:

Property Week:

Insider Media:

Business Live:



Peak FM:


Destination Chesterfield:

Joint venture formed to develop the Gateway at PEAK Resort

East Midlands Business Link:

JV formed to develop the Gateway at 300-acre PEAK Resort

Derby Telegraph:

Derbyshire Times:



The Sun:

Milligan has today announced it is forming a joint venture to develop the UK’s first fully serviced national park gateway as part of the 300-acre PEAK Resort development, consented on the eastern boundary of the Peak District National Park.

The Peak District is the UK’s original national park, covering 555 square miles and attracting over 13 million tourism visits each year. More than 25 million people live within 50 miles of its boundaries and currently 61% of visits are from the ‘east side’ of the park.

With the changes in attitude and movement brought about by the impact of Coronavirus and the increasing cost and environmental impact of international travel, demand for national parks is predicted to rise exponentially over the coming years. Whilst new visitors are encouraged to enjoy the countryside and learn about its heritage, their impact must be balanced with more sustainable ways to visit. As 85% of visitors currently arrive by car, a gateway facility providing accommodation, parking and services for onward travel into the park by foot, bike or in public electric vehicles through park-and-ride, will help mitigate their environmental impact and help to reduce traffic congestion.


Cundall, sustainability partner for the project, sees this as a unique opportunity to create an ultra-sustainable building at a time when the industry is crying out for practical examples of what Net Zero Carbon Buildings should look like. One of the Gateway at PEAK’s sustainable goals will be to operate with complete transparency on a number of pre-defined, industry standard metrics, sharing these with stakeholders and visitors as well as offsetting energy on a long-term basis, once the Gateway is complete and fully operating.

The Peak District National Park Authority and Chesterfield Borough Council have recognised both the challenges and the opportunities generated by sustainable tourism and have partnered with PEAK Resort landowner Birchall Properties and Milligan to explore and refine the development. The University of Derby, one of the UK’s leading hospitality and tourism institutions will also be a central part of the team, bringing leading thinkers and applied learning students.

Melanie Taylor, head of retail and relations at Milligan, said; “Our vision is to create a sustainable hub for like-minded businesses and a basecamp for the exploration of the Peak District. This will be a world-class example of a sustainable tourism project.

“A gateway could provide information for visitors to book single or multi-day itineraries, explore the area using more sustainable, less polluting modes of transport and buy or hire outdoor activity equipment to try out new activities. The information available about the wider Park’s attractions will help spread the economic benefit of millions of visitors beyond the area’s traditional ‘honey spots’.”

Image credit: Birchall Properties


Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park added; “As we approach our 70th year as the UK’s first national park, supporting sustainable gateways and opportunities for visitors to experience what we have to offer in a responsible way is vital to our future. It also resonates with our aim for everyone to be ‘PeakDistrictProud’ in their approach to spending time with us. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the role that national parks and our outdoor spaces can play in our recovery and long-term wellbeing. It feels both timely and exciting to be working collaboratively with Milligan and Birchall Properties to create the first Peak District National Park gateway as part of the PEAK Resort. The Peak District’s unique position in the heart of the country already makes us accessible to millions and our involvement in the Gateway at PEAK will help unlock our wildlife, cultural heritage and natural beauty to others, befitting a pioneering approach to sustainable tourism.”

Over the next two months, the partnership led by Milligan will be undertaking a major marketing and research phase discussing the opportunity with companies both large and small, local and national that might be interested in participating. They will be looking to create partnerships with brands that align with the Gateway’s values and vision, to integrate products, experiences and expertise into the delivery of a world-class visitor experience.

Once this phase is completed in September, a detailed building specification will be finalised, and it is intended that construction will start in 2021.

To find out more about how your brand or business can get involved in the Gateway at PEAK, contact Melanie Taylor.

PEAK Resort has planning permission for up to 2,000 hotel rooms and 250 lodges as well as a whole range of leisure, education and entertainment facilities. Phase One of construction, the all-weather, all-year, all-ages Adrenalin World (working title) is already underway and will open in Spring 2021.

Ashford Borough Council has appointed Milligan as developer to deliver the ambitious Vicarage Lane town centre redevelopment project. The new team also includes MICA (architect) and AECOM (project manager).

The scheme, which includes the former Mecca bingo hall in the Lower High Street, is a proposed mixed use development, aiming to deliver quality homes, cultural and performance space, food and drink outlets and workspace to complement the market town’s history and heritage.

The council’s proposals include the part demolition of the rear of the former bingo hall to reveal an uninterrupted view to the iconic Grade I listed St Mary’s Church, while retaining the high street frontage of the building to create a multi-use indoor event space.

Explaining why they had chosen to bring in Milligan, Cllr Paul Clokie, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for corporate property, said it had been looking for “a stand-out performer who was passionate about using the Vicarage Lane scheme as a catalyst for town centre regeneration”.

He added: “We believe this scheme will help rejuvenate Ashford, enhance our cultural offer, create significant employment opportunities and help attract inward investment for the benefit of local communities.

“High Streets were facing challenging times even before the Coronavirus pandemic sent our town centres into lockdown.

“As we emerge from lockdown there is an even more compelling need for our High Streets to reinvent themselves and what they offer. The council is committed to revitalising Ashford’s town centre and I’m confident that this specialist team will help us take this exciting scheme forward.”

Developer Milligan has a rich pedigree of developing mixed-use projects with inspiring retail and leisure at their heart. It has developed, asset-managed or partnered on properties valued at more than £5bn and has developed over 3m sq ft in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Barcelona, and Bilbao as well as operating the retail and leisure at Camden Lock Market. The Milligan approach is to drive value to all stakeholders by creating places where communities and businesses can thrive.

Stuart Harris, Chief Operating Officer at Milligan, said: “This is an exciting regeneration project and we are delighted to be working with Ashford Borough Council, which is a forward-looking and proactive local authority. We look to develop places where people are inspired to live, work, and play and that provide lasting value for their communities. We have a long-standing relationship with Ashford as some of our team were involved in the development and leasing of the Designer Outlet 20 years ago. Through more recent work we’ve developed good regional knowledge of independent and emerging start-up artisanal companies, who we would love to see come to Ashford alongside some of the great independents already trading in the town.”

To read more about this exciting town centre regeneration, please visit our project page.

Paul Hanegraaf, Milligan’s Creative Navigator and Malcolm Lea, Head of Development discuss how the industry is evolving and how the ‘talk’ needs to shift.

Reporting, stories and speculation on the new normal have been overwhelming. What is your take on what’s going to happen next?

M: It is all becoming a bit tiresome and we need to start seeing less predictions and more ideas. It is blindingly obvious that no shopping = no income = no rent = no new developments for the ‘traditional’ retail/leisure thinking. The real news would be if developers were not pausing new schemes for a rethink, but implementing new ways to deliver the same experience, with safety in mind.

P: True, but there are some key themes behind all the stories, which are what we need to take note of. Mothballed developments essentially point to risk. The next couple of years will be challenged with how to manage and balance risk… risk as consumers, risks as retailers, risks as restaurateurs, risks as developers and risks for money. It might suggest that reducing risk on as many fronts as possible can migrate us closer to success.

Many have talked about Covid as a catalyst or accelerator for trends that were already playing out. Is the industry agile enough to do something different now?

P: Who knows where this goes in next three years, but today we also have to work with our responsibilities towards sustainability, at the fore. The reuse of existing buildings is amongst the most sustainable practice our industry could entertain. This will also give us the ability/agility to listen, question, discover and then deliver at a pace with the times.

Business friction is another aspect to watch closely. The old business models come up against barrier after barrier. When that happens, it is often a space for the very fast paced transformation of new ideas, new formats and new solutions – the outliers become central.

M: The impacts we see playing out as a result of Covid, are trends we discussed back in 2015. Everything changes and moves on for a reason which will affect people’s behaviour. Terrorism changed airport security and was initially seen as a pain by most, but people still want to travel, for the enrichment and experience of it, so we got on with it. Similarly, people will still want to go out, meet people, have a drink and a meal in a nice place (and not just in a glass box for two) and go shopping. As we keep saying – it is all about the experience and how people choose to spend their time.

So where are we going to end up?

M: We will of course be more health aware and this will affect premises and people but some of these measures are long overdue. Remember how many pastries were displayed on counters without sneeze screens before Covid? And it will come back to the experience that people want and finding a safe way to create that for them. People will accept restrictions of all sorts for health reasons, but they will not accept a lower value experience.

P: There will be new retail solutions, there will be new operating strategies and there will be management challenges. There will be a convergence of values and the necessity for new collaborative operating entities… a big shift for those just used to collecting rent.

Visit our teams page to read more about Paul and Malcolm or to get in touch with them.

Milligan’s COO, Stuart Harris joined the Built Environment Network for a live webinar a few weeks ago to discuss mixed-use developments, some of the expected impacts of Covid-19 on their future development and the Milligan approach.

Having worked on and delivered a number of leisure regeneration projects across the UK, Stuart explained that moving through the next crucial and challenging chapter of real-estate development was going to require “experience, collaboration and innovation”.

Stuart quoted the model coined by John Elkington, nearly 25 years ago which balances the needs of the People, the Planet and profitability. Stuart said: “We need to assess the full impact our organisations and developments have on both the people we work with, and the local community in which we are working. Equally, the impact on the planet has to be at the forefront of our plans. Building responsibly and sustainably does not have to be at the expense of profit.

“Finally, profit should be defined by the positive and negative impact we have on the local economy in which we are developing. This includes creating employment, generating innovation, wealth creation and any other economic impact we might have.”

Stuart went on to explain that the Milligan approach centres around assessing the sustainable growth potential, from politics to the financial health of the local authority in order to understand what current and future demand and values could look like across a range of sectors.

Successful mixed-use development is about realising how the underlying site is attractive for a range of uses. There is no longer a cookie-cutter solution and the clone mall or town centre is a thing of the past.

Stuart continued: “It will be some time before we know the full effects of Covid-19, but the current crisis will accelerate the failure of some retail. Leisure and hospitality will be the last to recover, but the desire to go out, socialise and find experiences will continue to grow.”

“Research and understanding of the market of any area has never been more important and ultimately we need a shared vision of success which will marry innovative funding with long-term income streams to create sustainable investment platforms.”

Stuart was joined on the panel by James Burchell of Tellon Capital and the panel was hosted by Phil and Alison from BEN.

Click here to get in touch with Stuart.

Spain has tracked about two weeks ahead of the UK when it comes to the Coronavirus and its impact on retail and real estate is no exception. Back in April we reported on the early impact of the widescale closures, which acted as an insightful pre-cursor for what was to come in the UK. Today, it is promising to see how retail and shopping centres in Spain are faring during their phased reopening.

Zubiarte in Bilbao, which is owned in a join venture with Activum and asset managed by Milligan Spain, opened nearly two weeks ago. Despite strict hygiene measures and social distancing protocols, 83% of stores have been open and footfall has been surprisingly encouraging – at around 70%, compared with year on year figures. The centre is managing the new hygiene and capacity controls well and consumer confidence is optimistic. Footfall was up 20% week on week after its initial opening.

Xavi Alemany, Director of Asset Management Milligan Spain said; “Browsing and dwell time has understandably reduced so those who are visiting are here to buy which is resulting in a high purchase conversion rate. Prioritising safety and hygiene, but also complementing and carefully considering the customer’s purchase needs and in-store journey are going to be key in supporting all customers, retailers and operators through this never-before-seen transition.”

Customer video showing safety and social distancing measures in place at Zubiarte.


Elsewhere in Spain, 71% of shopping centres have reopened their doors, adhering to social distancing which limits occupancy to 40% in-store and 30% when moving through common areas. Madrid and Barcelona remain under lockdown, however shopping centres are expected to open there next week. Across the country, cinemas remain closed, however if trial runs over the next couple of weeks prove successful, they are expected to reopen at the beginning of July. Some restaurants are open or planning to open soon, depending on what phase the area is in and those with outdoor spaces and terraces are trading well.

Zubiarte in Bilbao is owned through a join venture with Activum and asset managed by Milligan Spain. Read more here.

Milligan has today announced that it is joining forces with James Lidgate, the former CEO of Legal and General Homes. James, through his consultancy business Wraxhall, will work with Milligan helping to deliver its strategic business development plans.

In his previous role, James developed and delivered the business plan for Legal & General Homes, creating the first ever wholly owned housebuilding arm of Legal & General alongside managing the strategic land portfolio. He also was responsible for the £250m equity investment into the Build to Rent joint-venture growing the pipeline from 692 units to almost 3,000, with total available capital of over £1.2bn.

John Milligan, Milligan’s CEO said, “James brings superb residential development expertise to our team. The residential sector will play an important role in the mixed-use solution to revitalising our failing high streets and shopping centres.”

James Lidgate added; “I’m delighted to be working with Milligan to help realise the increasing importance of housing in mixed-use projects. The combination of expertise brought about by this relationship will deliver true value and compelling placemaking.”

This news follows the appointment of Stuart Harris, former director and co-founder of Queensberry Real Estate, as Milligan’s COO in June last year.

James’ residential track record will complement Milligan’s rich history of developing mixed-use projects with inspiring retail and leisure at their heart.

Milligan has today launched a photo competition asking budding photographers in its network to get creative and submit images from their corner of lockdown, visually narrating where trade, commerce and the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well.

Covid-19 has changed our local landscape and the way in which most businesses trade, whilst life continues behind closed doors and bustling on frontlines tackling the virus and keeping essential services running. As the Government prepares to share plans to phase the UK out of lockdown, Milligan has been intrigued by the creativity and agility shown by some brands and businesses looking for new ways to survive under never-before-seen circumstances – from the local restaurants pivoting into takeaways and wine wholesalers to the major brands manufacturing PPE and hand sanitiser.

John Milligan said: “Whilst this is primarily a global, human tragedy, the economy and people’s livelihoods are also under threat. Many businesses sadly won’t make it. For those that do, this really is a time for entrepreneurial thinking. Even the businesses selling essential goods must change their model to ensure their staff and customers are safe and observing social distancing.

“In launching this photo competition, we want to highlight and share some of the creative ideas that are bringing products, services and experiences to customers with very changed needs. In many ways the impacts of the virus have sped up some of the inevitable trends we have been seeing – particularly in the retail sector. It is forcing us to think differently, focus on customer needs and challenge the norm, at pace.”

Entrants will be featured on Milligan’s Instagram page and will have the opportunity to win a case of wine, or a photography voucher.

To enter, simply email your image (no more than 5MB) to by Friday 5th June. Please also accompany your image with no more than 150 words detailing what it shows/represents and any relevant information behind the story.

Terms and conditions apply.


Terms and conditions
All entries must be emailed to and files must not exceed 5MB. Entrants are limited to a maximum of three photo entries.
The promoter is Milligan Ltd, 71 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 8AY
Competition is open to all UK residents over the age of 16.
Competition closes at midnight on Friday 5th June 2020 and judging will conclude on Tuesday 9th June 2020.
Judge’s decision is final.
The winner will be notified by Wednesday 10th June 2020 via email and may choose their own prize which is either a case of selected wines up to the value of £250 OR a Jessops Photo Voucher for £250.
There is no cash alternative and prizes are not transferable.
Subject to availability.
All entrants agree to their images being used by Milligan in its marketing material, across social media and its website.
The winner agrees to publicity naming them and their entry. Milligan reserves the right to change the details of this competition at any time.

EA Rachel Guthrie is next up in our life under lockdown series.

What’s your working from home set up?

My husband has taken over the office (a closed door means “enter at your peril”) so I have been relegated to dining table… not all bad as it means I can work with a lovely garden view! Lunchtime is 1pm – my daily routine is to make lunch for the family then I take an hour to exercise on my spin bike. My husband or I will also walk with the kids and dog around our village at some stage during the day.

Have you dedicated any lockdown time to learning a new skill?

Not especially, although I’m really enjoying getting lots of time to dedicate to spin classes on my indoor bike – slightly addictive it seems!

What’s the best and most challenging thing about working from home?

The best thing has been the relaxed vibe of working at home, having an admin role means hardly any Zoom/Teams meeting requirements so I can (and have) worked all morning in my pyjamas!

The worst thing for me has been having to act as substitute teacher for my youngest child. It’s become very apparent, very quickly, that teaching is not my forte!

What are you reading at the moment?

My current read is Wild Swans by Jung Chang. However, I’m about to embark on my next book group choice – Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo.

What are you listening to when working from home?

Mostly the children shouting “Mum”!  And also, Absolute 80’s and 90’s on the radio.

What’s your snack and drink of choice?

Drink of choice is copious amount of coffee all day, every day. I really look forward to our Milligan BYO/catch-up meeting at the end of each week where my tipple of choice is either bubbles or a G&T.

Snack-wise – I ordered 1.5kg of fizzy pick & mix sweets as a lockdown family treat. Rather predictably, a week in and they are nearly all gone (a possible downside to setting up base at the dining table – easy access to kitchen cupboards!).

The pandemic affects our psyches three ways: It influences how we think, how we relate to others and what we value.

A challenge of the Covid-19 crisis for businesses such as ourselves, currently trying to plan and make sense of “what’s next?” is like for many, that navigating the sea of data and content can be overwhelming. Trying to unpick the facts and research from opinion and speculation is a big task.

In the spirit of support and collaboration, we have curated a list of resources from fact-checked sources that we’ve found the most useful in helping guide our own decisions and strategic thinking at this time.

If you think we should include other links here, please do get in touch. Email:

All rights reserved.

Related: Our friend and colleague Xavi Alemany explains how the coronavirus is affecting retail and real estate in Spain.

Consumer Behaviours and Values

1.0 Business Insider: 3 ways the coronavirus pandemic is changing society.

You might recognise your own thoughts and behaviours in this Business Insider article. Difficult to know whether the changed values described will persist into the future or whether this merely describes our ‘new present’.


2.0 Harvard Business Review: That discomfort you’re feeling is grief

“The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively.” How is this feeling of what may be lost in our society embodied in the mindsets of consumers?


3.0 Politico: Coronavirus will change the world permanently. Here’s How

Views on individual, lasting trends from 34 big thinkers.


 4.0 New York Times: We’re Shopping a Ton Online. Let’s Be Conscientious About It

With no choice now but to shop online, this article gives us some key points to think about, making us more personally responsible for our shopping decisions.


 5.0 McKinsey: A global view of how consumer behavior is changing amid COVID-19

Insights on consumer sentiment and what this might do to ‘consumerism’.


6.0 Deloitte: Retail Industry Sentiment Survey

Results published here from a weekly sentiment survey from those operating in the retail industry illustrating how market priorities are shifting and evolving.



Economic Impacts

1.0 Visual Capitalist: The Hardest Hit Companies of the Covid-19 crisis

The ‘BEACH’ stocks have lost over $332bn over the past month.


2.0 The Guardian: The coronavirus crisis may lead to a new way of economic thinking

Larry Elliot explains why the similarities of this crisis and the second World War, do not extend to the country’s economic situation.


3.0 McKinsey & Company: Beyond Coronavirus – The Path to the Next Normal

Rich with insight, as always, this McKinsey briefing urges leaders to look beyond their current survival mode and to the future through a series of stages; Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimagination, and Reform.


4.0 Drapers Online: Coronavirus tracker: how the industry is reacting

Regular updates on how brands and retailers are responding to the crisis and the steps they are taking to protect their businesses.


 5.0 Visual Capitalist: What are Shoppers Buying Online During COVID-19?

An intriguing visualisation of the eCommerce categories experiencing the highest growth and those in decline during the Covid-19 crisis. Bread makers right up there with disposable gloves…

The Pandemic Economy: What are Shoppers Buying Online During COVID-19?


6.0 Gardiner & Theobald Market Intelligence: Covid-19 Construction Update

Up to date stats from the construction industry and a useful exec summary detailing how firms are now returning to work on live sites across the UK.

© Gardiner & Theobald

7.0 McKinsey: Covid-19 implications for business

Essential reading, updated regularly.


8.0 Savills: Central London Retail – Market in Minutes

These short briefings from Savills make a for a good read over a coffee – check out the rest of the Market in Minutes series and other research files on their website too.


New Futures

1.0 City Lab: What a Coronavirus recovery could look like

Urban resilience expert Michael Berkowitz shares ideas about how U.S. cities can come back stronger from the social and economic disruption of coronavirus.


2.0 The Conversation: What the world will be like after Coronavirus – four possible futures

Some predictions based on academic models and research grounded in the fundamentals of the modern economy – global supply chains, wages and productivity.


3.0 BBC News: Coronavirus – The good that can come out of an upside-down world

This article explores some of the possible upsides of the situation on education and basic human principles.


4.0 Axios: The unexpected consequences of the pandemic

Futurist Amy Webb points out that we should not be duped into thinking the future is our new present.


Marketing and Communications During the Crisis

1.0 Axios: Brands risk losing business if they don’t properly address coronavirus

Some advice on what to say and perhaps more importantly, how to say it.


2.0 BBH: Covid-19 and Marketing – A briefing to Marketing Leaders

Brand consultancy BBH breaks down key strategic phases of planning in this crisis with some useful thoughts around changing customer needs and examples of brands getting it right and wrong.