FWP’s Nick Wiley on regenerating Preston and transforming the North West
Welcome to the latest entry in Bdaily North West’s Built Environment series. This Autumn, we’re offering you key insights into the work of major players reshaping the region’s developed spaces.
Here in part five, we spoke with Nick Wiley of The Frank Whittle Partnership, one of the North West’s biggest providers of surveying, masterplanning and architectural services.
Can you give our readers a brief outline of your business and what it does?
“The Frank Whittle Partnership (FWP) has been established in the North West for more than 55 years. The last 25 years has seen the practice evolve to provide a multidisciplinary one-stop construction and property consultancy with offices in Manchester, Preston and London.
“FWP is a RICS/RIBA-accredited company and has highly qualified professional staff in all areas of the business. In-house personnel comprise a mix of project managers, architects, building surveyors, quantity surveyors, interior designers and CDM managers supported by a wholly owned mechanical and electrical engineering consultant, Blezard.
“All these disciplines are located in our main Preston office. Our sister company of structural engineers, TRP Consulting, provides the final piece of a one-stop service with resources located in Preston and Manchester.”
What are some of the bigger North West projects you’ve been involved with previously?
“Mill Farm Sports Village at Wesham on the Fylde Coast, where we provided multi-disciplinary services. The £28m development includes a new 6,000 seater stadium for local football team AFC Fylde, together with other commercial and leisure facilities which helped fund the stadium.
“We have also worked with Preston North End for many years on the redevelopment of their Deepdale stadium. Planning permission has recently been granted for the new state-of-the-art training facility in Ingol for PNE and work on this will commence in the New Year.
“We are currently working on the £18m renovation of the former Park Hotel in Preston, with the aim of bringing the building back to its former glory. Preston Guild Hall has perhaps been the biggest project for us over the past few years and we have carried out several major schemes within the facility – the latest being an innovative new 10-pin bowling alley and other indoor sports.”
What are you working on right now?
“We are appointed as lead consultants for the restoration and redevelopment of the Grade II-listed Preston Market complex and are currently working on the new Market Hall, which is due to be completed at the end of the year.
“The next part of the regeneration of this area of Preston will see the demolition of the existing indoor market and the construction of a new city centre cinema and leisure quarter.
“For me personally, I am working on the £22m Sands Venue Resort Hotel in Blackpool, which will see a former nightclub and cabaret venue transformed into the resort’s first five-star hotel with complementary uses including a health spa and, possibly, a casino.
“I’m also working on another project for FC United of Manchester, having been involved in the original stadium build at Broadhurst Park. I believe this is just another example of our ability to secure repeat business through the direct and personal approach we apply to every project we undertake.”
What sort of economic impact do you believe your work has had on the region?
“The majority of the suppliers and consultants we work with are North West based, which in turn maintains employment in the area.
“Schemes, such as the Mill Farm Sports Village development, have provided new employment opportunities with the addition of commercial and leisure facilities, boosting the local economy.
“FWP also plays an active role in supporting charity and community aspects of the projects we are involved in.”
What’s most important to your business in the work you do?
“The most important part of any project is understanding our clients and what they are looking to achieve from their project. When designing football stadia, we look at how we can make the stadium sustainable for the club on those days when it’s not being used for sport.
“When you consider that in football, on average there are something in the order of 26 matches played at home, this leaves a significant portion of the year where the stadium is not utilised.
“Clubs have to be creative and aware of the needs of both the community and the commercial providers in their local area. This will inform the design and create lettable space for income generation.
“For example, at Preston North End, part of the stadium houses a flagship healthcare centre which provides services and clinics to patients with long-term conditions, together with a gym, retail space and conference facilities.
“The Mill Farm development site has an Aldi store, fast food outlet, petrol filling station and distribution centre. The stadium has a sports bar which is open to the general public seven days per week, together with an Italian restaurant and conference / banqueting facilities. A 30-bed hotel will be coming along soon.”
Do you operate in partnership with other companies in the North West?
“Absolutely, we are keen to develop relationships with other consultants and supplement the services they provide with our own.
“For example, we work closely with Paul Walton Associates in Preston for their wealth of experience in Town Planning. We love to collaborate on projects with like-minded consultants.”
Can you name any regional developments you’re not involved in that have caught your eye?
“Preston has needed to up its game for some years and that appears to be happening now with the University of Central Lancashire expanding and improving all the time.
“The most recent project being the Engineering Innovation Centre and Campus Gateway, which are both very exciting projects. Development of the Preston Bus Station is also bringing in investment to a building in desperate need of a new lease of life.”
Lastly, what is your favourite space in the North West?
“My favourite space in the North West is Cuerden Valley Park. It’s a beautiful area where we take our grandchildren and two dogs for walks.
“The park also sparks my construction interest as they are building a new sustainable visitors centre through volunteers and charitable donations. A great example of what can be achieved by a community when they put their minds to it.”
Thank you, Nick.