Director, Dransfield Properties Limited
“We had a vision of how we could make a difference to Stroud town centre, and we jumped in with both feet.”
Specialists in large scale urban regeneration projects, Dransfield Properties Limited were unexpectedly offered an opportunity in Stroud town centre. Armed with meticulous research, creative ideas and a long-term plan, they have turned around the fortunes of Stroud’s shopping centre, bringing regeneration to the whole town.
In November 2017, Dransfield began its phased redevelopment of Stroud’s Five Valleys Centre, formerly known as Merrywalks. The fabric of the 1980’s shopping centre was failing, its electrical systems were out of date and its many empty units were unlettable. Andrew Malley, director, Dransfield explains, “Our policy is always to have long term ownership of the properties we develop. We invest in each project with this in mind, ensuring the building is fit for purpose, fit for the future and will attract long term tenants.”
The first phase of work focused on improving the multi-storey car park by adding lighting, security cameras and even surround sound playing music to shoppers. During major repair work to the King Street frontage, upper floors and roof, previously hidden staircases and unused rooms were discovered, sealed off decades earlier. Andrew Malley says, “Finding the unused accommodation has enabled us to create 11 residential units in the heart of Stroud town centre that didn’t exist before. Nine are permanent homes and two operate as Air BnBs, adding to the local economy and bringing life to the town.”
The vision of managing director, Mark Dransfield, was to refurbish the main mall to encourage new retailers and create a Borough Market style, indoor food market for Stroud’s local artisan producers. Opening in May 2020, this ambitious change has created an opportunity for small, local food producers with nearly all the units being taken by brand new business ventures. Andrew says, “We already knew that Stroud has a reputation for independent businesses and entrepreneurs and so we have helped and encouraged small food producers who wanted to grow their businesses and give it a try.”
The latest phase of development is the newly opened medical centre, created from a large 4-storey building that once housed only a Poundland store. “We learnt from Gloucester Clinical Commissioning Group that they had a high priority to create bigger and more modern GP facilities to serve the town. From this one building, we have created a GP Medical Practice with 34 consulting and minor procedure rooms for two of the town’s established GP practices, now merged to become Five Valleys Medical Practice. In addition, Gloucester Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust will open Stroud Therapy Department offering physiotherapy and podiatry facilities. The building is completely integrated with the shopping mall via a lift and stairs, bringing local people into the town centre, offering them amazing care and facilities and taking pressure off local hospitals. In total the building will have more than 150 people working on site. The medical practice is also a low-carbon building, heated and cooled with air source heat pumps and generating its own electricity with a 50kW solar farm on its roof.”
“We focus on plans and ideas that bring vitality and vibrancy to Stroud. Our vision is for the whole town. An improved town centre, providing more jobs and better ambience for locals and tourists, is a win for everyone. We’ve worked in partnership with GFirst LEP and Stroud District Council throughout this project, and we continue to be a key partner with them in the Levelling Up Fund bid. It is remarkable what can be achieved when everyone works together.”