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

Report results

Milligan’s Creative Navigator, Paul Hanegraaf recently took centre stage (screen) during a members masterclass on Town Centre Renewal and Intensification. Hosts Design Surrey invited Paul to speak about the Milligan approach to designing town centres and reviving economic activity.

In order to create vibrant town centres for diverse communities, Paul talked about tapping into the wealth of new brands, businesses and independents that are changing the face of physical shopping.

The masterclass was attended by 10 different local authorities, who are now faced with the challenges of regeneration and repurposing against a backdrop of social, economic and environmental issues.

Paul loves to talk, so if you too fancy picking his brain, drop him a line

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.