Blog: LHC retain a healthy share of activity in the south west commercial sector

With a healthy and growing turnover in the commercial sector, LHC seems to be bucking the trend for south west architectural practices.

Retail, industrial and workplace projects account for around 30% of LHC’s turnover, a figure which has been pretty consistent over the past four years and which, according to research by RIBA, seems to be substantially higher than other south west architectural practices. RIBA’s annual Benchmarking survey of all Chartered Practices in the UK suggests that commercial work accounts for only around 10%-15% of turnover for other south west practices.

We do wonder why we might be bucking this particular trend and can only think that we’ve retained a healthy commercial client base because of our long term, collaborative relationships, and our broad service offer which is particularly valuable to clients in this sector, providing added value to the delivery of commercial projects in a challenging economic climate.

The city of Exeter also seems to be bucking a trend of its own at the moment, in being something of a hotspot for office buildings. LHC has been able to help a number of clients in this market. For example, we’re currently working with Maze, and Wesleyan on two projects in Exeter – Viewpoint, a potential new build, and Aperture, a remodelling project.

These two projects demonstrate how our in-house specialists can add value by collaborating on concept CGIs, interiors, building identities, sales brochures – alongside our core skills of architectural design, masterplanning and landscape – to help a client develop a brand and promote speculative office space.

Interior and graphic input for Aperture refurb project


In a climate of economic uncertainty around future sources of infrastructure funding, the aftermath of the BREXIT vote and consequent lack of private sector appetite for investment, Exeter’s confidence is encouraging, for us and for the region. Here’s a snapshot of the projects we’ve been working on in the commercial sector in Exeter and the region as a whole.

Despite limited available land for new build office development within Exeter, we have recently seen the successful completion by Midas of our 2,122 sq m CAT A design for Emperor House at Exeter Business Park. The scheme, which was originally conceived for ROK Developments back in 2006, has been developed by Summerfield Developments, purchased by Grenadier Estates and let to LV who are now fitting out the interiors ready for occupation.


Further activity at Exeter Business Park this month has seen us secure the reserved matters planning approval for 600 sq m of new build office space on behalf of Summerfield Developments at The Lookout. Summerfield are actively marketing the opportunity to potential investors and tenants.

Planning consent granted for the Lookout, Exeter

Development continues at Exeter Science Park with plans for our third project there about to start on site. The two new Grow-On Buildings are due to commence in November. We’re also providing Principal Designer services on this project.

Grow On Buildings, Exeter Science Park

Work is also underway on site for East Devon District Council’s new headquarters at Heathpark in Honiton. Our design for their 2,256 sq m building is due for completion in autumn 2018.

Our urban design team have been providing masterplanning and landscape services to Taunton Deane Borough Council for Nexus 25. The proposals aim to create a ‘green campus’ with a strong sense of place, walkable streets and a green environment for high quality business uses.  The development, to be delivered in association with Summerfield Developments, comprises 25 hectares of land at M5 Junction 25 providing space for R&D, high quality offices, light industrial, warehouses, and a range of ancillary uses.

Nexus at Jct. 25

LHC has also experienced a jump in retail sector activity over the last 18 months as a result of private sector commitment to major, new retail developments, particularly at Anchorwood in Barnstaple and Marsh Mills, Plymouth. It’s not just the private sector prepared to invest in retail as our feasibility, masterplanning and architectural design work provided Teignbridge District Council with the confidence to purchase the Market Walk Shopping Centre in the Newton Abbot and secure planning approval to embark on a £2m facelift.

Marsh Mills Retail Park, Plymouth

So, despite economic uncertainty in the context of BREXIT, LHC continues to see a healthy workload in the workplace, office and retail sectors which augers well for economic growth and investor confidence in the sector and the region.