We’re pleased to announce that we have appointed charity and social enterprise Bioregional, as a strategic partner to help deliver our corporate sustainability and ESG plans.

In recent years Milligan has made commitments to put people, the planet and purpose at the core of our operation, adopting ESG policies to lead the way on the path to Net Zero Carbon.

By partnering with Bioregional, a charity and social enterprise founded in 1994, we are securing this commitment, developing our own targets and frameworks which will go beyond the regulatory minimum, consider the long impact of developments, and change the focus of decision making.

One of our major developments is the Gateway at PEAK, an ambitious project which aims to be an exemplar in sustainable tourism, pushing boundaries in construction and operations as it welcomes visitors to the Peak District National Park. The key purpose of the Gateway is to act as a transport interchange, transitioning people from their cars to less polluting modes of transport as they travel onward into the park.

John Naylor, Milligan’s head of sustainability said; “Today ESG and an urgent focus on sustainability is rightly at the top of all agendas. It’s always been a consideration for us, but now it’s central to decision making. At PEAK we’re working with the University of Derby to develop innovative thinking which focusses on the whole life of the development. The key principle behind the development is to protect the natural environment too. Here we are not only considering the how, but also the why. Gateway exists to reduce carbon emissions.

“Appointing Bioregional means we will be operating with full transparency at a corporate level and ensuring that data is available for us to report on our progress and achieve accreditation. As well as reducing embodied and operational carbon we will look to develop nature-based solutions which benefit communities for a long time to come.”

Claire Brady, Sustainability Consultant at Bioregional commented on the aligned interests of Bioregional and Milligan; “Milligan is committed to revitalising town centres and mixed-use destinations, redefining their purpose for today’s communities. That principle speaks to the heart of the work we do at Bioregional – living within the means of our planet and creating social value by prioritising people, health and wellness.

Pictured: John Naylor (Milligan) Claire Brady, Chloe Joyeux, Alice Levett (Bioregional)


About Bioregional

Bioregional was founded as a charity and social enterprise in 1994 by Sue Riddlestone and Pooran Desai, two environmental entrepreneurs based in South London, who wanted to develop more sustainable ways of living.

We created our One Planet Living framework in 2003 from our experiences of planning and working with others to develop the multi-award-winning BedZED eco-village in South London, where our headquarters is still based.

Using this learning, we provide a range of sustainability consultancy services that make it easier for people to live sustainable lives within the planet’s boundaries by:

  • helping major developers create pioneering eco-communities
  • supporting businesses, including retailers, to create sustainable products and services

Our on-the-ground experience and creative thinking now spans five continents.


With September marking a welcome return to more in-person meet ups and working in the office, we took the opportunity to create an update video about some of the things we’ve been working on… watch this space for part 2 coming soon.

We’ve been working with the Mailbox’s new owners, M7 Real Estate, to repurpose the lower level creating 50,000 sq ft of office space, to be managed by flexible and co-working provider Spaces. Home to the BBC since 2004, WSP and other long term office tenants, the Mailbox’s canalside location, lifestyle, dining and retail offer and onsite car parking provides the perfect backdrop for those seeking flexible office space in the city.

Milligan and the Mailbox

Milligan and the Mailbox go back a long way. During our eight-year co-investment with Brockton, the indoor space was transformed and we created a high-end environment, a flagship Harvey Nichols store and welcomed new international retail brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Paul Smith as well as leisure brands including Everyman Cinema and Castle Fine Art. Milligan also created Mailbox at Home, a 22,000 sq ft concept store comprising brands including Made.com, Heals and Bo Concepts. At the time, John Lewis was opening in the city and Grand Central was bringing a new wave of footfall in the Mailbox’s direction. But fast-forward a few years and the city, especially in a post-pandemic state, looks very different. It is now time for this city icon to adapt for new needs.

A new agenda

The lower level of the Mailbox presented several challenges in converting retail units and a mall to quality office accommodation in the post-Covid world. Budgetary control was especially important with the Mailbox REIT managed by M7 Real Estate being the first company to trade its shares on IPSX.

As part of a sustainability agenda, re-use of existing material was a priority. The former luxury mall finishes are being reused as an inviting collaboration area and ‘winter garden’ breakout space. Additional natural light in the new office space has been achieved by the introduction of new glazing along the north elevation.

A history of being repurposed

As far as buildings go, the Mailbox is relatively young. Built in 1970 it was originally a Royal Mail sorting house. The name stuck, but not much else. The underground tunnels leading to and from New Street Station were closed and it was converted in 2001 to one of the largest mixed-use buildings in the UK.

Today, some of the brands that called it home have made way for a different offer which will work to serve a new type of customer. Independent café, bakery and art gallery Medicine has recently opened on the second level as well as a new Italian restaurant overlooking the canal maximising its outdoor space with a glazed terrace.

The truly mixed-use offer of leisure and lifestyle alongside independent brands and experiences will be a welcome proposition for professionals seeking new ways of working. We’re really proud to have worked alongside M7 Real Estate on the next chapter for the Mailbox.

The design team of Weedons (architect), Cundall (Engineers) and EQ2 (lighting consultant), with their knowledge and experience of the former Mailbox refurbishment, have been appointed by the specialist contractor, Rhino Interiors, to promote efficient integration between design intent and delivery in quick time.

Works have commenced on site with completion in Q4 2021.

Residents, local businesses and other stakeholders will soon be invited to comment on St Mary’s Fields, a key site in Ashford Town centre where we have been working with the council to propose ambitious plans for regeneration.

The scheme promises to help rejuvenate the town by enhancing its cultural offer, creating new spaces and better connecting the various parts of the town centre, bringing new residents into the town centre and attracting further investment for the benefit of local communities.

The scheme – which is currently being referred to as St Mary’s Fields – includes the former Odeon cinema in the Lower High Street and the Vicarage Lane car park. It is a mixed use development, aiming to deliver new cultural space with a food and drink offer, and around 230 quality homes to complement the market town’s history and heritage.

Stuart Harris, Milligan Chief Operating Officer, said: “The townscape of Ashford is evolving and this scheme has evolved to keep pace. Critically, it creates a new public realm and enhances the routes to and from the high street bringing regeneration and much needed footfall to the lower high street.

“This is high street reinvention at its best – we’re future proofing for needs that are coming to the fore as we speak. This scheme will create a deep connection with the community by giving them a mix of uses that will enrich everyday life and provide an important connection to the town’s history and heritage thanks to an architectural focus on St Mary’s church and the enhancement of the town’s cultural offer.”

The former Odeon cinema building will be repurposed to for this cultural offer, providing residents and town centre visitors with unique reasons to visit. It will also enliven the high street creating a place to visit, work and play for all the family.

The St Mary’s Fields scheme will also comprise high-spec homes which will set a new sustainable design precedent for Ashford, breathing life back into the town centre and reinvigorating a sense of pride and ownership for those living there.

Ashford Borough Council Leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson described the project as “the foundation and catalyst to the regeneration of Ashford town centre, providing a dynamic and quality environment to work, live and play”.

“The creation of a living urban community in the heart of the town centre is our vision. The St Mary’s Fields scheme is a vital ingredient in the transformation of Ashford. I believe these proposals are brave, bold and ambitious. Through our innovative regeneration strategy, thoughtful urban design and planning policy, the council shares that sense of excitement.”

Public consultation begins in August 2021.

Stuart Harris recently presented alongside a panel of real estate experts to Solace (Society of Local Authority Chief Execs). Some of the country’s most senior civic placemakers joined the session, which was led by Inner Circle Consulting, to listen to case studies and insights about how to get their town centres and high streets back on track after Covid-19 and the critical structural changes that were underway before the pandemic.

Acknowledging that local authorities are now operating in a ‘once in a generation’ post-pandemic landscape, Stuart shared examples of new uses for excess retail space and emphasised the importance of public and private sector collaboration to enable the recovery.

Stuart also highlighted the importance of vision and masterplanning and catalysts such as markets, which have in his experience, led the way to fundamental change.

Inner Circle Consulting summarised the session in a report available via LinkedIn stating that; “Real estate touches almost every civic function in some way. Crucially important to all Councils, it offers unique opportunities to realise the value from social returns on investment, over and above financial returns, that commercial operators cannot access.”

Inner Circle Consulting report

This year, Milligan is supporting The Sophie Clarke Foundation, a charitable foundation close to our hearts and dedicated to mental wellbeing and supporting suicide prevention.

Recognising the mental health benefits of painting and drawing, The Foundation has launched the “Love Life” Art Challenge – open to artists of all abilities, including beginners. The top 100 entries will be exhibited at 22 Bishopsgate in November and auctioned to raise valuable funds for Papyrus and Sound Minds.

We have a few creative types among the ranks who will be picking up their paintbrushes and dusting down their drawing pencils, so why not join them? Entry packs include free tutorials – both live, in person and pre-recorded, which have surprised those taking part with just how much they can achieve.

Sign up for the challenge 

Visit the website for more info

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We are pleased to announce the appointment of ex-McArthurGlen property and retail operations expert David Norris, as Head of Asset Management and Operations.

David brings to Milligan years of experience in opening and managing assets across Europe and North America, ensuring business continuity, with a people-first and collaborative mentality, which is crucial for developments in a post-covid world.

Working with colleagues at McArthurGlen, David created an award-winning Environmental strategy, with all centres achieving ISO14001, earning McArthurGlen a listing in The Sunday Times 60 Best Green Companies. As well as developing McArthurGlen’s Retail Academy, he managed end to end project cycles, including scheduling, budgeting, tendering, high level and detailed design, for dozens of successful projects throughout Europe and North America.

Stuart Harris, COO welcomed David to the team by saying “David’s skills and experience add so much value to the work we’re doing repurposing assets and redeveloping mixed-use places across major towns and cities. Milligan has a core expertise in retail and leisure so as we deploy our skills and experience into fixing shopping-centres and distressed assets, David’s knowhow couldn’t come at a better time.

“The careful planning of operations and the developing of process and strategies to maintain trade, access and support for communities throughout different developments is critical to many of our projects.

“Equally, David’s knowledge and experience in structuring predominantly turnover based deals and leases at outlet-centres and working closely with brand partners is key to our schemes where a wide variety of exciting uses and varying degrees of flexibility are required.”

On joining Milligan, David said “McArthurGlen is such a diverse and all-inclusive business, the world’s leading exponent of designer-outlet retailing in my humble opinion. It was during my time at McArthurGlen that I first met John Milligan and I knew then that Milligan was another progressive company, with shared values and a unique and diverse team of industry specialists, with whom I am very much looking forward to working with.”

David joins us in early July alongside recently announced new recruits in Development and Sustainability. To read more on those appointments

Click here

We have today announced the appointments of David Rothwell as Development Director, and John Naylor as Head of Sustainability. This follows the appointment of Emma Powell who joined from U&I as Development Manager, late last year. These appointments reflect our need for additional resource against the backdrop of a growing mixed-use project list, and the determination to put ESG at the heart of the business and work.

In recent months, Milligan has taken on several redevelopments with local authorities, and significant projects to repurpose existing assets which call for mixed-use and residential expertise. Developing the exemplar for sustainable tourism, the Gateway at PEAK, has also led to a greater need for people and planet-first thinking.

Stuart Harris COO said, “I am thrilled to be growing our team with these heavy-hitting appointments bringing specialist expertise right into the heart of our operation.

“To a varying degree, all our developments balance many different, complementary uses. The key to successful mixed-use assets or repurposing assets with excess retail is true collaboration between sector specialists. Milligan is well known for bringing together powerful partnerships. However now, we are building leading mixed-use expertise in one team which serves local authorities and investors seeking innovative ways to bring life and commerce back into towns and city centres, creating long-term viability.”

David Rothwell joins from Greystar and brings with him a wealth of expertise in the residential and mixed-use sectors. Prior to Greystar, David was Development Manager at Aspire Development Management, Kier Property Developments and CBRE. At Milligan, David will play a strategic role in driving our major projects forward.

John Naylor is a qualified environmental engineer and is no stranger to Milligan having worked on projects with the team in both the UK and Portugal. During his career John has acted for Investors, multi-national Institutions, Banks, Governments, Developers, the US Corps of Engineers and with Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London. His professional interests include sustainable technologies, climate change and zero carbon management, future proofing, energy conservation, “smart” IT and utilities.

Both John and David will join the Milligan team in Early May.

Thinking sustainably has always been the central tacit and lifeblood of Milligan. From our earliest days revitalising the pumping heart of Manchester at the Triangle, restoring to glory Liverpool’s old Post Office to become the Metquarter Shopping Centre, repositioning the award winning Maremagnum portside shopping mall and to preserving cork trees at the Portuguese Barreiro Retail Park, Milligan’s unique approach to real estate development centres upon ethical planning, conservation and efficient, responsible delivery.

It’s no coincidence that better quality and environmental authenticity attracts higher value and the accolades of investors and end users.

Long before the global pandemic of Covid-19 disrupted the world, scientists had begun to detect the outset of global warming threatening to cause a catastrophic rise in temperature encapsulating our planet. Following international recognition, the first Climate Change COP (Conference of the Parties) was held in Berlin in March, 1995 soon followed by the acclaimed Kyoto Protocol to the UN convention at COP3 1997. Amongst other things this ground-breaking framework agreement sought to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to cap the ozone layer and limit the predicted rises in global warming. The concept of Carbon Credits was introduced along with recognition of the impact of human activities in deforestation, land use and marine environment.

In 2015, in Paris, world leaders committed to a historic agreement to tackle climate change. They agreed to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 ℃ above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 ℃.

Roll forward to another COP conference, number 26, this time to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow. It will remind the world that every country, organisation and person has a carbon footprint that, given sufficient commitment, can be measured and reduced in size. Progress on addressing climate change including the zero carbon goal has been made but we still consume far more than the planet’s finite resources can afford and now urgent action is needed. Extreme weather events, rising sea levels, floods and biodiversity loss are all evident and will only get worse without concerted and unified action.

The built environment and its infrastructure are responsible for around 40% of global emissions and so responsible real estate development is more important than ever before. In response, Milligan continues to lead the way on the path to net zero emissions with inherently sustainable, future-proofed, low energy schemes bringing benefits for the longer term to the environment, to societies and to communities.

Through thought-leadership and example, Milligan continues to demonstrate a research-led science based whole life approach to real estate re-purposing and development, actively mainstreaming and having long ago successfully adopted the fundamental tenets of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Milligan has acted instinctively in a socially responsible way since its inception. We have recognised the benefit of identifying more closely our achievements and ambitions in a transparent fashion through ESG monitoring, bringing together all of the aspects into one annual report to allow all stakeholders and interested parties to see our progress and commitment to creating a better world.

The coveted ESG distinction refers to the three central factors in measuring and monitoring the sustainability, societal and good governance impacts of decision making – the selection, engagement or investment in a company and its supply chain. In effect it drives the scope and importance of ethical sustainable property development management to a new level and pays due importance to relevant associated social issues and behaviour. Good governance is the binding force to monitor performance and credentials, compliance with environmental codes and standards and to uphold the moral authority of corporate responsibility. ESG is the gatekeeper.

This year Milligan will formalise its reporting processes and set out our roadmap in the areas of environmental, social and governance conduct. Our fundamental objectives remain the same – to put people, society and the planet at the core of what we do – recognising and quantifying the actions we can take to minimise our impact and promote solutions that are restorative in nature and will stand the test of time.

John Naylor, Head of Sustainability

Cross-party think tank Demos recently recruited John Milligan as part of a round table to explore the early implications of its new research. The Demos ‘place’ project surveyed twenty thousand people to explore the gap between people’s individual everyday needs for their area and how they rated their actual provision. The feedback received from the round table was incorporated into the overall report entitled Everyday Places.

It found that improving local shops was the most important regeneration priority – particularly in more built-up places.

John said; “Resources like the Demos research are more invaluable than ever as developers and local authorities try to reshape local areas and build amenities for the communities they serve. The starting point should always be research and asking them what they want.”

Legal & General sponsored the research.

Read the report here

Check out the results for where you live, or indeed for any constituency in Britain

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