Health & wellbeing at the heart of SGP’s masterplan for Utopia City, Wrexham
Stephen George + Partners (SGP) has submitted a hybrid planning application on behalf of Net World Sports (https://www.networldsports.co.uk/) for the development of a new business park on 200 acres of land in Wrexham, North Wales. NWS would like the development to be known as Utopia City, the proposed development will create a regionally significant employment hub and strengthen Wrexham Industrial Estate which lies just to the South of the site.
SGP’s comprehensive masterplan sets out a vision for a Grade-A development comprising 18 mixed-use units, including industrial and logistics, storage, manufacturing, F&B and leisure facilities, in an extensively landscaped setting. The hybrid application seeks detailed permission for nine high-quality units of a mix of sizes, with three outline parcels providing flexibility for future phases to be delivered.
Taking inspiration from Net World Sports’ corporate branding and its recently completed HQ building that sits adjacent to the site, SGP’s design forms a unique sense of place, maintaining a high-quality aesthetic across all of the proposed buildings whilst also allowing enough flexibility for future occupiers to apply their corporate branding and identity. Innovative, high-quality and well-considered design is a key feature, for instance the use of translucent sandwich panels to provide more natural light for occupiers.
Joseph Silva, Principal Architect at SGP, comments: “Wrexham is an incredibly vibrant city and was recently identified as one of the fastest growing regions in the UK for innovation in Product & Industrial design. Net World Sports is keen to show that this development will better the existing stock and further raise the quality of economic and employment opportunities for the area. Our masterplan for Utopia City has provided a fantastic opportunity to work with an innovative and ambitious Client to develop a blueprint for their buildings over different scales, giving local businesses an affordable place to expand and attracting outside businesses into Wrexham.”
The platinum thread to the masterplan design is focused on landscape design including green and blue infrastructure, with consideration given to integrating the proposed built form into the existing landscape framework which provides many ecological and landscape habitat assets to encourage local native species to remain present on-site. The masterplan retains existing mature trees and arranges waterbodies and planting as focal points within the development, anchoring built form in context. By providing links and strengthening connections, the landscape and aquatic corridors and pollinator paths can both contribute to a meaningful and usable experience for workers and users alike and improve biodiversity. Recreational walking routes and fitness trails together with informal relaxation spaces allow users close connections with nature.
Joseph Silva continues: “We have recognised from some of our other schemes that green infrastructure can have a really positive impact on the health & wellbeing of users, as well as tenant attraction and retention rates. From the outset, we were keen to create a site that wasn’t just as dense as possible, but one that was very nicely landscaped and with a lot of green infrastructure in place. As a major sports equipment retailer, the amenity elements of the site were also extremely important to our client, in particular the wellness trail which forms a circuit within the site.
“It’s a real pleasure to design around trees and pay a bit more attention to the nature that’s there, rather than having to look at the site as a blank slate. Often, these natural elements are referred to as constraints, but the existing nature has in fact created some really incredible opportunities for Utopia City. The wellness benefits of the design and included amenity elements will provide the basis for a positive end user experience.”