Since our plans for the Gateway at PEAK were announced, back in July 2020, creating a hub for sustainable tourism to the Peak District has been core to its vision. The project is built on collaborative alliances and the latest partner to lend its specialism is IT and Technology specialist, RDS Global. Together with RDS and its Black Box system, Milligan will have the tools and expertise to monitor, record and act upon multiple-real time datapoints across the Gateway benefitting its sustainable goals and enriching visitor experience.

As a visitor, imagine pre-booking your parking, restaurant reservations, equipment hire or bike rental and onward travel into the park, then being personally greeted on arrival and directed through your itinerary all via your own mobile device and screens powered by the Gateway’s digital infrastructure.

As part of the operations or visitor management team, imagine monitoring visitor movement in real-time, sharing that information with site occupiers so that they can offer timely and relevant information to visitors, throughout their visit. A single customer view will tell us who visits, how often, what they’ve done, their preferences and will be able to make smart predictions about what they might like to do in the future and the best way to communicate with them.

Milligan has a passion for embracing new technology and has pioneered the use of real-time, smart tech software to enhance the customer experience and improve the sustainability and efficiency of buildings.

In recent years, we delivered a multi-retailer, consumer loyalty app at the Mailbox (one of the largest mixed-use destinations in the UK) and deployed smart technologies at London City Airport.

But for the Gateway at PEAK there is a critical goal for technology, over and above providing a personalised and enriched customer experience. Technology and the site’s underlying platforms will help it operate in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way on a macro level and for individual visitors.

The patented Black Box technology will assimilate multiple data points and provide analytics for both site operations and visitors alike. Someone who has prebooked their itinerary will be able to arrive at the Gateway and with ANPR gain frictionless entry to site. Their personal app, can monitor miles driven or biked around the Peaks and every touchpoint they provide permissions for, thus rewarding those visitors who make a carbon neutral visit.

Here’s an example of what the Black Box technology could mean for visitors to the Gateway:



  • The lead booker for a family of four pre-books parking, cycle hire a Peaks Guided Excursion and a restaurant reservation for lunch on the day of their arrival, via the Gateway website.
  • She downloads the Gateway app, in return, the Gateway purchases carbon credits on her behalf to go towards offsetting the family’s carbon footprint for their holiday.
  • A few days before they are due to depart the app notifies her to check the sizes of the bikes and helmets required. She’s also informed about a new experience opening at the Gateway which is offering 25% off after 3pm.


During visit

  • Upon arrival, ANPR recognises the family’s car. They enter the site and are directed, via their app to their pre-booked parking space. Their app is pinged to let them know their table at the restaurant is ready.
  • After lunch they collect their bikes and equipment. The app unlocks the bikes from the stand for a seamless collection.
  • Every mile they drive, or cycle is tracked by the app and the family take part in a competitive game with other visitors to the Gateway, tracking carbon used and seeing where it can be offset.



  • The family are rewarded with loyalty points relating to the carbon impact of their visit to the Peaks, which they can use to get discounts from the Gateway’s retailers or a future visit.
  • The family stay engaged with events taking place at the Gateway and plan a visit for October half term.


Read more about the Gateway at PEAK here.

Students at the University of Derby have impressed our development team with their architectural visions for the UK’s first fully-serviced national park gateway.

The Gateway at PEAK will be part of the 300-acre PEAK Resort, consented on the eastern boundary of the Peak District. As part of our partnership with the University of Derby, undergraduate and Masters level students have responded to a live brief and were challenged to assume the role of architect on the project.

The students were asked to consider local communities, wildlife preservation, sustainable design with a Net Zero Carbon objective, and respectfully incorporate the Peak District’s natural beauty into their designs.

The students worked in teams to envision scheme designs and complementary uses such as F&B, retail and exhibits, delivering unique concepts that offered a broad spectrum of options for the developers to consider.

After all the proposals were submitted, the Milligan development shortlisted four finalists who were awarded a share of £1,000.

Dr Boris Ceranic, Course Director for Masters Programmes and Centre of Excellence Leader at the University of Derby, said: “I was impressed by the quality of the work and particularly pleased by the way undergraduate and Masters students have worked together as a team to deliver such complex and demanding design charrette briefs.

The designs were inspiring, with highly sustainable and distinctive visions of unique visitor experiences, resolved through proposals that blurred the boundaries between the open and enclosed, solid and transparent, static and fluid, natural and built environment.”

Lecturer, Graham Markwell comments, “This live project has allowed us to work with industry partners to deliver a high-quality experiential learning initiative. The students have produced innovative solutions to the brief provided and have greatly benefitted from interacting with professional clients and real-world projects.”

Gary Dawson, second year student on the BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Venue Design talks about the project and the valuable experience it provided; “We really enjoyed working on the project, being able to apply our creative skills to a public space of the future was fantastic and gave a real sense of how we will apply the skills we are learning in future careers. Having the opportunity to push ourselves and see what we can accomplish, in the limited time we had, helped us all begin to realise what we are capable of achieving and what our futures might be like.”

For Milligan the project was a great way of not only accessing some fresh thinking for the development but also a way of inspiring the next generation of creative talent within the industry.

Paul Hanegraaf, Creative Director at Milligan notes “I was blown away by the quality and thought put into each submission – especially as the students had little under a week to prepare.

We have been developing the plans for the Gateway at PEAK for some time and will soon be announcing the architect we have appointed before revealing their plans later in the year.

It’s wonderful to have input and inspiration from the next generation of designers, planners and architects, after all, it is that generation we’re building this inspiring place for.”

Rupert Carr, Director of Birchall Properties adds “I was delighted with the quality and the quantity of the work produced by the students in such a short period of time. It was nothing less than remarkable and I was genuinely uplifted by the thinking and consideration behind the concepts the students shared.

Of particularly note for me was the way all teams expressed real enthusiasm for and belief in the potential for a better built environment one with an underlying philosophy to deliver social and environmental benefits as well as great commercial opportunities”.

The Gateway at PEAK is part of PEAK Resort, where works for the all-weather, all-year, all-ages Summit at PEAK, are already underway, planning for opening in Spring 2021. PEAK Resort also 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, attracting investment and creating employment opportunities.

Images shown are credited to The University of Derby and do not represent the final scheme.

To read more about the Gateway at PEAK click here.

Milligan has appointed further specialist partners to collaborate on the Gateway at PEAK, the UK’s first national park gateway, consented on the eastern boundary of the Peak District.

Architects Stanton Williams, technology specialists RDS Global, operations consultant DN Consultancy and landscape architects Gillespies, have all been appointed by the Milligan development team.

In July 2020, we formed a unique working group of local stakeholders on the development of Gateway at Peak, part of PEAK Resort. Since then, the vision for a sustainable hub, welcoming visitors to the Peaks, providing food and accommodation, retail opportunities and environmentally friendly options for onward travel into the park, has been taking shape. The latest partner appointments are an exciting milestone in the progress of the development.

Milligan has a long history of collaboration with Stanton Williams, an award-winning practice well positioned to realise the sustainable and Net Zero Carbon objectives of the Gateway thanks to experience on similar projects and its own Carbon Neutral Zero Plus accreditation.

RDS Global will work alongside our team to plan and manage the project’s IT platform, deploying its new technology – BlackBox. The RDS BlackBox can consolidate multiple datapoints and communication forms which will power real time, actionable data to enrich customer experience and track energy metrics to support the development’s sustainable goals.

David Norris of DN Consultancy will orchestrate the management and operational strategies and prescribe the environmental, social and governance factors across the Gateway at PEAK.

Also appointed to the team, is award-winning landscape architecture practice, Gillespies who have been leading landscape and public realm design for over 50 years. Utilising strong design principles and an understanding of the natural landscape and environmental context, Gillespies will work with us to deliver transformative planning and design, unlocking the potential of the Gateway at PEAK, to create an inspirational space with a clear-cut purpose, to make people’s lives measurably better.

Melanie Taylor, director of leasing and commerce at Milligan said: “Our work on the Gateway at PEAK has reached a new phase. Landowner Birchall Properties and the regional stakeholders have entrusted us to find and manage specialist partners who are going to bring expertise and value to this unique project. The Gateway is going to be an exciting destination for all types of visitors, each looking for something different from their visit to the Peaks.

“We’re confident that having Stanton Williams, RDS Global, David Norris and Gillespies around the table, we’ll be pushing boundaries and delivering ground-breaking and creative ideas that surprise and delight those visitors. The project will also support the local community through jobs and collaboration and preserve the natural beauty of the park with considerate construction, rewilding and education.”

The Gateway at PEAK is part of the 300-acre PEAK Resort, where the development of an all-weather, all-year, all-ages Summit at PEAK, is already underway, with an opening planned in Autumn 2021. PEAK Resort also 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, attracting investment and creating employment opportunities.

Read more about the Gateway at PEAK here.

James Lidgate, Milligan’s Head of Residential recently contributed to Re:Imagining retail, a set of reports and white papers published by Savills.

‘The Death of Single Sector Assets’ can be read here:

Click here

James writes about how effective collaboration lies at the heart of repurposing large buildings and major destinations as this will deliver ‘resilient mixed-use assets’.

To read more about James and his role at Milligan, please visit the Team page.

Milligan has officially appointed Development Manager, Emma Powell to join the team as of 19th October. Emma joins Milligan from U&I where she was part of the regeneration team working on projects such as Faraday Works in Greenwich, Circus Street in Brighton and Cambridge North Fringe East, Cambridge. Prior to U&I, Emma completed her MRICS qualification at Knight Frank where she specialised in the residential sector.

Milligan COO, Stuart Harris said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Emma onboard as she brings with her a diverse set of skills which complement many of the projects we’ve taken on at Milligan over the past 12 months. With such a challenging year for so many, we’re very pleased to be able to be recruiting and strengthening our development team, specifically for work we’re taking on in the residential sector.”

Emma Powell added: “I’m joining Milligan at an exciting time. Whilst 2020 has had its challenges, the team at Milligan are really focussed on the opportunities, thinking differently and staying agile – it looks like I’m going to hit the ground running!”

Milligan is delighted to welcome the Summit at PEAK to the adjoining site at the Gateway at PEAK Resort. The indoor activity centre has also announced Robert Swan, the explorer and environmentalist as its brand ambassador and works are already underway. The centre will offer visitors caving experiences, ziplining and climbing walls, complimenting the Gateway’s service and tourism offer as part of the PEAK Resort masterplan.

Robert Swan is recognised internationally as one of the world’s greatest adventurers – he is the first person in history to walk to both the North and South poles.

Robert’s appointment brings a deeper authenticity to the Summit and PEAK Resort in general, broadening the market appeal of the traditional adventure centre to families and schools as well as provide training spaces for fellow adventurers and the services. During Robert’s expeditions, he witnessed the impact of environmental change on the planet. These experiences were the catalyst for Robert to inspire others – leading eye-opening Antarctic expeditions for business leaders and politicians from around the world and educating and engaging young people.

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it” Robert Swan OBE 2012

Through his ambassadorship of the Summit at PEAK Robert seeks to empower and enable people from all walks of life to participate in sustainability through their leisure activities and adventures.

Today we launched our new film: Inspiring places with heart.

Here’s a word from the CEO…

“The purpose of our towns and cities was evolving before the pandemic and Milligan was responding to these changes. This year’s events however have been more of a revolution, certainly much more than anyone could have foreseen and we like others have been taking time to consider our response. There is now an urgent need for some fresh thinking and leadership in the repurposing of failing shopping centres and high streets. At Milligan, we see these massive challenges as remarkable opportunities and we are determined to play our part in transforming places so that they better meet the needs of people to live well and prosper.

So to that end, I am pleased to share with you our new video that gives an insight into our experience and ambition.”

John Milligan, CEO – September 2020

As part of the Gateway at PEAK development team, we’ve appointed Cundall, sustainability engineers, to work alongside our Head of Development. We speak to partner Alan Fogarty about why this is such a standout project.

“One of the Gateway’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.  Any offsetting of energy will be minimised and if unavoidable will be done on site or locally.

“This is a fantastic 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, and we are very excited to be a part of it.

“Working with Milligan has already been a unique experience. We’ve been brought into the Gateway at PEAK project at a critical stage, helping to shape the ‘statement of needs’ and project aspirations. Normally, we respond to a brief, arriving once it’s been written, we don’t help write it! But by participating in the briefing process in this way, we are ensuring to properly factor in each element of sustainability, allowing for the time and resources needed, rather than just paying lip service to it retrospectively.

“The challenge when working on a purely commercial building is that the real focus is always flexibility, the focus of a school, for example is functionality. The Gateway will focus on delivering something that is genuinely sustainable at its heart – a building that truly performs. And genuine performance is not just about compliance and building regulations. The Gateway’s natural location in the Peak District means we can welcome all the biophilic opportunities and integrate them into the visitor experience.

“At this stage of the project we’re not only thinking about energy consumption and transportation, but embrace energy, water conservation and health and well-being too. We’re also considering how the building might need to adapt to climate change and perhaps warmer summers in the future and how it creates real social value for the community it serves and the people that work there.

“Crucially, performance is all about setting transparent targets that are visible to everyone who is connected with the Gateway at PEAK. This is something Cundall is very experienced in doing and where we can add a lot of value on a long-term basis.

“It’s also important to us that sustainability addresses the local need. Where it makes sense, we will be utilising local supply chains, buying into the local economy and helping local businesses. We’ll also be getting our contractors to think about apprenticeships for long term career opportunities for young people rather than just work-experience.

“This project will be one of the first Net Zero Carbon Buildings in the UK, as defined by the UK Green Building Council, and its green credentials will include low-emission building materials and sustainable design principles in order to maximise carbon reduction. It will also promote health and well-being activities like walking, cycling and alternative modes of transport that will have a positive impact on local air quality and make it a shining example of sustainable development.”

To learn more about the project please visit or contact

We recently announced that we would be partnering with the University of Derby, amongst other strategic partners, on our Gateway project in the Peak District. We talk to Brendan Moffett, where he explains more about how the project will deliver a wide range of research, innovation and applied learning opportunities.

“As the Hospitality and Tourism sectors go through a period of post Covid-19 reinvention, there will be a need to embrace new business models with sustainability and technological innovation embedded. The University is positioning itself to be future focussed and at the forefront of innovation and problem solving to help the sector to recover and build resilience for the future.

“The University of Derby already has a strong reputation in the delivery of hospitality and tourism education and from this September our new intake of students will be housed within the business school to enable us to support the industry and develop the next generation of leaders.

“Partnering with Milligan and Birchall Properties on the Gateway at PEAK presents a once in a generation opportunity to create an exemplar of sustainable tourism at a time when consumers and visitors are becoming more aware of the impact of their actions.

“We’ve seen an upsurge in staycations and domestic tourism from a wide demographic and we need to develop best practice models for how this will be managed to protect the natural environment. The University is keen to support a Sustainable Tourism Development approach where the Peak District and Derbyshire can retain the economic and social advantages of tourism whilst reducing or mitigating any negative impacts on the natural, cultural or social environment.

“We believe this project is at the heart of national policy on Tourism. In 2019 the Government announced a Tourism Sector Deal with the aspiration to improve connectivity, accommodation and grow off-peak visits through the creation of ‘tourism action zones,’ so we believe this project is the perfect test bed for such a strategy.

“For our students, this will be a live project, adding value to their courses and the project itself will have access to the latest thinking and research via the University’s research specialisms in ‘business improvement’ and ‘sustainable development’.

“Research will help us to understand the seismic shifts we are seeing in consumer values, behaviours, and expectations when it comes to sustainability and responsible tourism. Great service, unique experiences and personalisation are now core to these expectations, but add to that the new challenges for increased hygiene and safety, and it is clear we need to operate very differently and evolve current operating models.

“Tomorrow’s visitor will increasingly make decisions about where and how they travel and what they buy and consume based on the environmental and community impact, leading to a preference for locally sourced products and authentic experiences. The Gateway at PEAK project is a hugely exciting opportunity to completely re-imagine what such an offer should look like and will be at the heart of a world class visitor economy for the region.”

Last month we announced a joint venture with Birchall Properties and a partnership with the Peak District National Park Authority, The University of Derby and Chesterfield Borough Council, to create a national park gateway to the Peak District.

Milligan is now actively engaged in discussions with a variety of brands and businesses, conducting research to ascertain appetite and willingness to participate, stakeholder and customer mapping and assessing sustainability matters as we begin to shape what the Gateway at PEAK will be.

Melanie Taylor, Head of Retail and Relations, explains where we are at.

What is the vision for the Gateway at PEAK?

We want to create a ‘green hub’ for like-minded brands, service providers, experiences and learning, amenities and the base camp for exploration of the UK’s first national park. Our vision is for the Gateway to become a world-class exemplar of a sustainable tourism project. We see the Gateway as providing the perfect opportunity for learning about nature and climate change as well as enjoying the National Park. We also respect and acknowledge the local contribution so throughout the project will treat the residents of the park as partners, valuing the importance of community.

What’s the next development milestone?

The next big milestone is developing the statement of needs for the building itself, how it will operate and perform, at which point we’ll be in a position to brief a wider team, including contractors and architects.

Who are you looking to talk to during this exploratory phase?

As you can imagine, a project like this, with such local significance and national status has many stakeholders and is attracting interest from all disciplines – from local to national brands to environmental campaigning groups. We need to consult as many as possible along the way, but to get things up and running we clearly need to drive the commercial agenda, so we’re talking to operators in the F&B sector, outdoor clothing and apparel brands, motor and electric vehicles, hotels and local retail and artisan products. We’re also exploring the landscape for commercial partnerships with technology companies, telecom, energy and those with ambitious goals for sustainability.

What has the interest been like so far?

I’ve been amazed at how many brands and companies buy into and understand the vision and are looking at the opportunity to do something really unique. This is not about a retail mall or even shop fronts, it’s about an immersive experience for the customer, punctuated by likeminded brands adding value to the customer journey and enhancing their trip into this most beloved national park. Everyone I have spoken to so far is thinking that way. We’re doing this at a time when (pandemics aside) the importance of our environment is not only growing, but critical to our future. A sustainable project, designed to protect a significant area of the UK’s environment in mind, is a project everyone can get on board with!

Will there be anything unique or ground-breaking about the Gateway at PEAK?

We shall see. But the vision is that this will be one of the first examples of a Net Carbon Zero building in the UK. I’m excited about what this project means for sustainability, customer experience and the future of retail.

To find out more about the Gateway at PEAK or to get involved, visit or contact