Conor Wordley Joins MPSL

“The reason I applied for the role of Apprentice Designer at MPSL is that I have always had an interest in construction and how each aspect is planned and executed within a team of people. This all started when I began labouring for an independent company at the age of seventeen. I learned the basics of all the trades and was introduced to small scale plans which fascinated me and was intrigued to learn how they are created.  

I did have a break from construction when I went to university. StudyingSports Business management in Leeds for a year and a half, I decided this was not my passion. Coming out of university I was searching for apprenticeships and opportunities that were being offered in construction. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit which impacted the number of companies taking on new apprentices, fortunately I was able to continue labouring with my previous employer. This enabled me to further learn about the practical side of the industry and develop a basic understanding of what goes into a project. ”

“I was aware of MPSL through social media and noticed members of their team had gone through an apprenticeship pathway, which led me to contact them. Ever since school I have always been a creative and practical person as my favourite subjects were art and design technology so to have the opportunity to learn a new career and bring forward my creative skills, has me excited for my future at MPSL.  

In my downtime I often play golf at the weekends which keeps me active but also gives me another skill to focus on and improve. Another side venture I have is, co-owning a music brand in Leeds where we put on events. This was created by a couple of people I met at university but has not been able to fully thrive due to the pandemic, it is starting to build back up as more lockdown restrictions are being lifted which is all looking very promising.  

I live by the quote “Don’t miss out on something great, just because it could be difficult” – nothing in life is easy so you best work hard to reap the rewards. ”

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The Passive House

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The Passive House

One of the leading energy efficient standards in the world is that of the passive house, a concept first established by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany in 1996.

Passive House Overview

For many people embarking on building their own home, the desire to build a house that is as energy efficient as possible is a top priority. One of the leading energy efficient standards in the world is that of the passive house, a concept first established by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany in 1996.

The design of a passive house focuses on utilising the building’s natural or  “passive” heating and cooling systems, such as natural ventilation and the effects of sun and shade rather than installing “active “ systems like central heating or air conditioning. Energy savings of up to 75% can be achieved compared with typical new build homes, rising to 90% when compared with older homes. Not only does a passive house reduce utility costs, it also delivers a greater level of comfort brought about by consistency of temperature and excellent air quality

There are specific performance criteria that must be met for a building to achieve official Passive House certification. These standards are achieved through the application of five basic passive house design principles.

Five basic passive house design principles

1. Avoiding thermal bridging.

Thermal bridging occurs when heat moves directly between the inside and the outside of a building. This process can account for up to 30% of a building’s heat loss and can happen when heat travels across components such as wall ties, window and door surrounds or at the interfaces of walls, ceilings and roofs.  Eliminating thermal bridges is achieved through the use of a variety of building techniques and materials.

2. High-quality insulation

Passive homes are amazingly well insulated in order to both prevent heat loss in the colder months and unwanted heat gain in summer. Walls, floors and ceilings are covered in a blanket of high quality insulation,  or are even built entirely from highly insulating materials such as wood fibre or hempcrete.

3. Air-tight construction

Air tightness goes hand in hand with insulation to retain the desired level of warmth or coolness in a passive house. By ensuring that every joint is perfectly sealed and there are no gaps in the skin of the house, heat can’t escape or cold air enter in an unplanned manner.

4. Heat recovering ventilation systems

The natural exchange of stale and fresh air that happens in traditional “leaky” houses, is replicated in the air-tight passive house through a heat recovery ventilation system. Twin ventilation ducts pass air between the interior and exterior of the house and at least 75% of the heat of the air being expelled is transferred to the incoming air by means of a heat exchanger. This results in good quality indoor air that is at a comfortable temperate.

5. Heat-controlling windows

Windows are a major source of heat loss and gain. In a passive house, windows will usually be triple-glazed and may have coatings to regulate the level of heat gain depending on their aspect. The materials used for the window frames will also be insulated or non-conducting to further increase performance.

It’s also worth mentioning that it’s a common misconception that passive houses don’t require any source of internal heating. In fact, as long as the space heating energy demand is less than 15kWh per square metre (less than a quarter of the usual 55kWh of a typical new home) most passive homes will use some kind of energy efficient heating system.

These design features come, of course, at some additional cost compared to a conventionally built house. For many people, despite the long-term savings in energy costs, a fully certified passive house might be financially out of reach. However, by compromising on certain aspects of the build, a “near passive” house can still offer impressive reductions in energy consumption.

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Tom Maudsley Joins MPSL

I was interested in working for MPSL as they are a longstanding presence within the residential design sector. When I was approached regarding the role and after speaking to Darren & Dave it seemed like an amazing opportunity to further my knowledge within the residential sector, but not only that the office environment and company ethos seemed amazing.  

When I was studying construction at college the tutor pushed me into technical drawings and understanding how buildings are put together rather than just the fancy designs and sketches, from this I was fascinated with the details and technicalities that went into building design and drawings, so becoming an architectural technician was kind of the natural route to take to be able to further my knowledge in the technical side of building design.

Whilst studying Architectural Design & Technology at university I found my first graduate job where I gained the fundamental knowledge in the residential sector. Since then, I have worked on different types of projects ranging from old mill conversions, media studios, school and healthcare projects, but my focus has always been to further my residential experience and knowledge, this making my job the perfect role for me. 

Things I love to do… I am a massive nerd at heart and love the Star Wars saga and playing video games, but with having a young family the time spent watching Star Wars has massively reduced over time! So rather than spending my time glued to the TV screen I like to get my kids out and about whether that be out in the park or on a long walk around a nice reservoir with a picnic lunch!

Since the start of pandemic, we moved into our first home so I have been perfecting my DIY skills which is going quite well I must admit, and I have also picked up some essential gardening skills… I am no Alan Titchmarsh but my fruit plants and bushes are coming on a treat!  

A quote I like is “you miss every shot you don’t take”. I am all for taking opportunities and taking chances to try and be the best possible version of myself and do the best by my family, even if it doesn’t work out quite OK, at least you know you tried your best.  

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Danielle Lindsey Joins MPSL

I applied for the role at MPSL because they are an established company with many years of experience in multiple sectors but especially in the residential sector. They have a long-standing team with in-depth knowledge about the company, which can only be a great thing for a new starter to learn fast and settle in. Another thing that made me apply for the role was that MPSL had the ability to seamlessly deliver drawing packages from early planning stages through to construction and completion. 

 

I can’t say I’ve always wanted to be an Architectural Technician; this has evolved over time as I’ve moved through my education and career. I’ve always loved tasteful things that look just right and bring about a balance. Through school I liked textiles and Interior design and went on to study Interior Architecture and Design at university. The course opened my eyes up to the built environment and conceptual thinking which set me up for my first graduate job.

Through initially working on planning stage drawings, I realised I didn’t fully understand how a building came together. Since then, I’ve geared my focus towards technical drawings and detailing to achieve the finish imagined at an earlier design stage. It’s the need to know how a building or specific detail works that makes my job perfect for me now.  

 

Things I love to do include walking in the countryside and absorbing as much fresh air as possible as I live in the city at the moment. City life does suit my need to get dressed up and hop around the bars and nice places to eat though (pre and post pandemic of course!). I’m a big foodie/feeder and love to cook for friends/family…and when there’s a spare moment I’ll be baking a sweet treat of some sort. I’m trying to get into tennis too, but I can’t say I’m going to be the next Serena Williams (we’ll see how that goes!).

 

Since slowing down through the pandemic I’ve developed a bit of a green finger and I’m currently working on some new veggies and flowers for this spring/summer – It’s surprisingly therapeutic.   

 

I currently live by something like this quote by Les brown; “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”. I’m a bit of a dreamer and like to put goals in place to make sure I at least end up somewhere near there! 

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MPSL: Our Social Values

MPSL: Our Social Values

Social value at the heart of every design

As an architecture, planning and design studio, we at MPSL spend a large amount of time striving to deliver quality designs with a significant focus on how we can add value in everything we do.

We focus on considering three key areas when working on a project including the economic, environmental and social impacts of design. Where economic and environmental impacts have always been quantifiable and measurable, social value has tended to take more of a backseat as many organisations have struggled to understand and define what it is.

Social values are not a new concept, but since The Government 2012 Social Value Act was introduced, there has been increased pressure on businesses to put social values at the forefront of their mind.

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Ensuring that we add social values into our projects is a vital element of MPSL’s work. Social value calls upon both the client, and the design team, to consider how a project can deliver not just a particular development itself, but also how the project might improve the economic, social, and environmental well-being of the relevant area.

Social value is moving further up the agenda, with a shift in emphasis, from purely economic, to the broader socio-economic value of a project.

As designers, our primary role is to create both successful buildings, and places, which ultimately support and compliment the communities they serve. In order to ensure the long term success of a project, social value must be embedded into the heart of the design.

Environmental
Aspects

We strongly believe that it is our obligation (and the obligation of every business) to minimising the impact of daily activities on the environment as much as possible, so as to reduce the overall carbon footprint imposed. As a company, we utilise resources efficiently, in order to reduce waste, and limit our daily environmental impact. We have recently switched to a green energy source, supplied by a UK generated 100% renewable energy provider, and actively encourage all staff members to car pool, take public transport, or cycle where possible. All of our supplies are sourced locally, with a constant focus on minimising the detrimental impact of avoidable logistics.

Social
Aspects

The happiness and wellbeing of those impacted by the places and spaces we create, is of pivotal importance to us. This works to guide, and influence some of the key design decisions we make, ensuring that we are able to provide an ever improving environmental impact on the communities which our projects serve.  We are also proud to offer sponsorship to several local organisations and sports teams, as well as donating our time, and money, towards coaching initiatives for community groups.

Economic
Aspects

We are extremely passionate about providing equal opportunities for all people, irrespective of their individual background, orientation, culture or creed. We work closely with local education and training providers, offering support and work experience opportunities, having provided a number of successful apprenticeship placements to date. We value the importance of raising the aspirations, and bridging the gap for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, supporting people to navigate a clearer pathway towards our profession, and enabling all people to succeed in reaching their full potential.

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Carter House Way: Case Study

Architectural Services.

Carter House Way, Widness

Clients – Magenta Living / Halton Housing Trust

Contractor – Mulbury Homes

Project – Residential development consisting of 243 mixed tenure houses including access, open space and associated infrastructure.

The Process

MPSL were appointed by Mulbury Homes in 2017 to provide Architectural Services to assist with the redevelopment of the former commercial site, now known as ‘Three Sails Point, Widnes.  

Several planning applications have been made over recent years to revitalise this extensive 7.6 hectare development since activities ceased at the site circa 1990s, leaving it open to the elements post demolition. 

In support of the planning application, our team prepared a comprehensive set of planning drawings, including street scenes, fully detailed CAD layouts and Design and Access statement, along with a post planning Technical drawing package comprising of apartment working drawings, construction details, legal layout plans and setting out co-ordinates. 

Our team designed a range of properties, which all benefit from modern specifications, providing potential occupants with contemporary living spaces which will facilitate modern lifestyles, whatever their price range.  

The planning application sought approval for the ‘’Construction of 248no. residential dwellings, together with associated landscaping, public open space, affordable housing and on-site infrastructure” subsequently granted after a long and complicated process, which resulted in approval of 243no dwellings, of which 183 dwellings will be offered as either shared ownership or affordable rent with the remainder open sale.  

Working collaboratively, with the support and dedication of the consultant team, there was a smooth and effective planning processwhich ensured permission was granted after several years of challenges. Immense thanks are given to our fellow consultants Croft, Trevor Bridge Associates and Satplan 

Progress

Following extensive remediation, construction has been progressing well on site, with first completions expected early this yearkeeping the development on track for completion. 

Legacy

This development is Magenta’s largest contract to date and will be a welcomed start to spring 2021 to see the first sales go out. The variety of house types will ensure this mixed tenure development will create a well-balanced community, making the most of its sustainable location and access to the Trans Pennine routeas well as the Mersey estuary vistait’s sure to be a sell-out! 

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Kersal Vale Road: Case Study

Architectural Services. Pre & Post Planning

Kersal Vale Road, Prestwich

Clients – Cube & Great Places 

Contractor – Caseys 

Value –  Residential for the erection of 109 dwellings and associated infrastructure & open space.  

The Process

In late 2018 MPSL were appointed to provide feasibility sketch layouts for a potential new development at Kersal Vale, Prestwich, which would bring forward a mixed tenure development comprising of Affordable (40%), Shared Ownership, Private Rent and Open Sale housing across two parcels of land formerly home to Cussons and Co Ltd soap factory.

With a client brief & following a detailed review of the Constraints & Opportunities, MPSL created an efficient layout which could be costed for bid purposes. Once the bid was accepted in principle, MPSL worked alongside the consultant team (including Engineers & Planning) to create a fixed layout which incorporated the full technical review & a bespoke designed House Type Portfolio.

The site presented a number of challenges including topography, trees, existing services, remediation, flood risk & strategic highways requirements.  This all allowed us to have a meaningful Pre-Application with Bury Metropolitan Council.

Following this successful process our client moved forward with an ‘Unconditional’ land acquisition deal (which our client would later receive an Insider Business Nomination for) & MPSL prepared a Reserved Matters Planning Application. This application was Approved in the spring of 2019 enabling post planning works to commence.

MPSL produced Technical Working drawing packs for 10No new house types, incorporating Timber Frame construction whilst working alongside consultants & suppliers ensuring the process was value engineered throughout. MPSL have ensured that our designs have received Full Building Regulation Approval before a late 2019 site start & have provided ongoing On-Site support either via Online meetings or in person.

Progress

Works on site have been progressing at pace, set back from the main road within the site stands a completed 5m high stepped gabion basket retaining wall construction which in itself is a feat of engineering (providing essential flood risk measures) whilst having a striking appearance.

The properties elevated above this structure will be able to see the distinctive silhouette of the Manchester skyline in all its glory. Elsewhere timber framed shells are everywhere giving a sense of real progress & excitement for how this development is shaping up.

Legacy

This project will stand as GreatPlaces / Cube flagship development spanning across 11.9 hectares, benefiting from an attractive river frontage to the south and the elevated woodland to the north.

The high-quality architecture is both distinctive and responsive to the local character of this aspirational, suburban town. MPSL are proud of our role within this award nominated development, we are excited to see the scheme finished whilst we embark on our next venture with our valued clients GreatPlaces & Cube.

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Starting a new job then entering lockdown; Paul Flynn shares his story

MPSL Technical Manager, Paul Flynn gives an insight to starting his new job then entering lockdown

I was no different to any new starter, the excitement of a new challenge, meeting new colleagues, a role in driving the business forward. On a wider note the days were getting longer, spring was emerging, and we had a lot to look forward to over the summer, sporting events, family holidays and a stack of long postponed DIY.

As I drove to my new place of work on that Monday morning just a few weeks ago, those thoughts were spinning through my head. In the background on Radio 4 however the news was grim and I was brought back to earth quickly. The Coronavirus outbreak was gathering pace. The UK Government were making big noises about measures to prevent the spread and protect the health service.

But surely, we wouldn’t be affected that much? Italy was having a terrible time, and Spain, both countries were in lockdown. But we are British, we’ll muddle through as ever, keep calm and carry on…. Nothing that a cup of tea wouldn’t fix. Hmmmm.

On entering the office and being acquainted with my new colleagues I was put to work straight away, I needed to get up to speed with the new systems and procedures. Everyone was so kind and helpful, nothing was too much trouble in making me welcome. They were a good crowd – absolutely essential in any working environment.

Needless to say the office banter was somewhat subdued due to the pending gloom ahead of us. All talk was about the pandemic and the uncertainty that bring, not only for the business but for our friends and families alike.

Over that week the news was getting worse and we knew it was only a matter of time before lockdown measure came into place. We convened a meeting to devise a strategy that would facilitate home working. We needed to ensure connectivity across several platforms – a virtual office within everyone’s homes. Several fields of connection were established and put in place.

We maintained an office presence until these were tested by a small number of colleagues who were first to work remotely. Any teething problems were able to be sorted out before we switched over to full home working for the entire office. This gradual transfer enabled us to make a seamless transition.

So, on the Friday afternoon of my first week I found myself working from home. Fortunately, I wasn’t new to working from home. On complex schemes I would often hide away in my home office – simply to focus…. and keep away from the distractions. For other colleagues this was the first time they hadn’t worked in an office away from their homes – it was going to be a challenge for them.

On the home front, there were other factors. My daughter, a Lawyer, is working from home – she shares my office, my son, an Engineer has commandeered the dining table. My wife, a school secretary is looking after us as well as worrying about her elderly father who fortunately also lives in same the village. I am missing the football of course both the Premiership matches on TV and watching my own team, Preston North End every other Saturday. Watching my son play football is also a big miss – their season has already been abandoned.

So, we continue to work at a pace, hopefully soon there will be better news and we can get back to some normality both at work and home.

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MPSL wins a place on the new £750m Innovation Chain North (ICN) framework

Innovation Chain North

MPSL wins a place on the new £750m Innovation Chain North (ICN) framework

MPSL Planning and Design has been appointed by the Great Places Housing Group to its £750 million Innovation Chain North Framework for their Architectural Services. Here’s how we secured a spot on Great Places Housing group’s ambitious development programme.

Led by Great Places Housing Group, the framework is designed to deliver social and affordable housing projects across the North over the duration of 4 years.

The successful organisations were selected based on their technical competence, price and commitment to social value.

Social value pledges, including apprenticeships, work experience opportunities and volunteering hours were proposed by all suppliers and through a collaborative approach ICN will be seeking these pledges to be applied on every new development.

David Golden, Managing Director at MPSL Planning and Design, said ‘’As a company we focus on strong design principles that are built to last & processes are put in place that ensure that our clients receive the very best service. It makes me particularly proud that we have been chosen for this framework, it is reflection on the hard work & dedication of the team. I am confident that our experience will be an asset to the Framework members & we look forward to being part of a process that will construct high quality housing & regenerate communities within the North of England whilst delivering on our Social Values.’’

Ranking third in both categories out of 17 companies is a great achievement for our us and we are excited to work once again, with Great Places Housing Group and we can’t wait to build relationships with other framework partners involved.

Helen Spencer, Great Places’ Director of Development, said: “We are delighted to be working with MPSL Planning and Design on our new ICN framework. We are confident they will be able to work with us and the clients of ICN in delivering the sector’s extensive development ambitions in the North. We were delighted to have a huge response from the market and receive high quality proposals and substantial social value pledges for our communities. We are now looking forward to mobilising the framework and working together on new projects with MPSL Planning and Design supporting us with Architectural Services”.

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Soulla Rose discusses how she has adjusted to working-from-home life

Following her recent promotion from Senior Designer, to Planning Manager, Soulla Rose, talks to us about how she has adjusted to working-from-home life.

During the unforeseen and unprecedented conditions in which I, and I’m sure countless professionals alike, have found themselves over recent months, MPSL as a company have remained steadfast in our dedication to the continuity of meeting the requirements of our clients. To transition suddenly, and yet continue to offer a ‘business as usual’ service, in spite of what would have previously been unthinkable restrictions, has been really quite remarkable.

The implementation of modern technology, by way of virtual platforms, has allowed us to continue daily company meetings, and face to face interaction with clients and consultants alike, a satisfying justification of our ongoing commitment to technological evolution (“evolution or extinction”, as they say).

For me personally, the transition from our usual office environment, to our current remote and virtual operations from home, has not been without its’ challenges however, I have never previously experienced being dragged from my workstation by a two year old wanting to take over whilst I’m working on an application submission, or participating in a conference call whilst being comically summoned from the bottom of the stairs, for example.

In contrast to these challenges however, I have received an injection of positivity, and pride, with the promotion from Senior Designer, to Planning Manager. I have worked tirelessly and dedicated myself to the success of MPSL for nearing two decades, and to receive this promotion, particularly during times of such widespread adversity, is a personal achievement which I am extremely proud of.

I look forward to returning to the office in due course, and restoring normality in terms of daily routine. It is exciting to anticipate how the use of available technologies can be further integrated going forward, evolving our working practice, holding more virtual meetings, and contributing to a reduction of our overall carbon footprint.

I am eager to reunite as a team, and embark on this next stage of my career, continuing to serve our clients in the most productive and effective way possible.

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