Profile Spotlight: Andrew Sparrow, Placemaking Director at Activate

Tell us about your role and how it fits into the business.

I am the Placemaking Director at Activate, the placemaking service we recently launched at Workman. Activate has been established to complement Workman’s property management offer, to create a richer occupier experience through a sense of place and community and as a result, achieve higher returns for asset owners, developers and local authorities.

Tell us more about Activate.

Activate conceives and delivers viable placemaking solutions through a combination of consultancy advice and operational management. The service can add value to a range of different sectors including office, business parks and a range of retail and leisure schemes.

Services range from master planning and feasibility studies, to activation and delivery of meanwhile uses, occupier engagement strategies and market and event programmes supported by the team’s destination marketing expertise.

Where did the idea for the business come from?

The Activate team has more than 25 years’ experience working within the placemaking industry. Workman LLP is the UK’s largest independently owned commercial property management and building consultancy firm. What sets Workman LLP apart from the competition is its specialist focus, national coverage and independent status.

Bringing the two together to create Activate has created a market leading consultancy solution which will not only benefit Workman’s existing client base, but also provide a fantastic all-round package of professional property experiences for new clients as Activate continues to grow.

What is the vision for the business?

In the short-term, we have been focussed on embedding the new service within Workman and spending time with Workman’s clients to help them understand how Activate could add value to their assets.

We have been really encouraged by the response we have had and how clients have identified the benefits the service can offer across sectors, from business parks to retail.

With the new service and website now launched, we are looking forward to growing the range of projects further and we’re off to a great start, with numerous client instructions already received.

What makes Activate unique in the market?

For me, I think it’s our practitioner-led approach and demonstrable experience, of not only planning and strategising, but also having the skills and experience to actively deliver solutions as well. This, coupled with Workman’s property management, building consultancy, and sustainability and wellbeing teams, provide a unique offer within the market.

Tell us about the company culture.

During my time at Workman, I have found it to be a very professional and welcoming environment, with everyone within the firm being extremely encouraging as we launch this new service. It has been great to see the enthusiasm and interest in Activate, and we are delighted to be able to launch this with Workman.

What is the biggest challenge facing the placemaking sector?

The rapidly changing nature of retail in the UK, as well as the increasing expectations of occupiers within commercial properties, creates a challenge for landlords and property owners. The challenge for placemakers is to be in a position to respond to this with innovative ideas and practical, affordable solutions, which provide a pathway to bring about the change required.

Are there any exciting new projects you can share with us?

We have just completed a town centre masterplanning project for U+I, and have also been appointed by two local authorities who are in the process of exciting regeneration projects. Separately, we have been asked to look at placemaking strategies for a number of office buildings and business parks, demonstrating the range and breadth of opportunities we are being asked to respond to.

Why did you choose a career within placemaking?

I have always worked within the events and marketing sector and have found bringing multiple stakeholders together to bring about change and respond to the needs of the local community to be extremely rewarding. Increasingly, these are the key attributes required in placemaking – bringing places and people together.

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