Last month we announced a joint venture with Birchall Properties and a partnership with the Peak District National Park Authority, The University of Derby and Chesterfield Borough Council, to create a national park gateway to the Peak District.
Milligan is now actively engaged in discussions with a variety of brands and businesses, conducting research to ascertain appetite and willingness to participate, stakeholder and customer mapping and assessing sustainability matters as we begin to shape what the Gateway at PEAK will be.
Melanie Taylor, Head of Retail and Relations, explains where we are at.
What is the vision for the Gateway at PEAK?
We want to create a ‘green hub’ for like-minded brands, service providers, experiences and learning, amenities and the base camp for exploration of the UK’s first national park. Our vision is for the Gateway to become a world-class exemplar of a sustainable tourism project. We see the Gateway as providing the perfect opportunity for learning about nature and climate change as well as enjoying the National Park. We also respect and acknowledge the local contribution so throughout the project will treat the residents of the park as partners, valuing the importance of community.
What’s the next development milestone?
The next big milestone is developing the statement of needs for the building itself, how it will operate and perform, at which point we’ll be in a position to brief a wider team, including contractors and architects.
Who are you looking to talk to during this exploratory phase?
As you can imagine, a project like this, with such local significance and national status has many stakeholders and is attracting interest from all disciplines – from local to national brands to environmental campaigning groups. We need to consult as many as possible along the way, but to get things up and running we clearly need to drive the commercial agenda, so we’re talking to operators in the F&B sector, outdoor clothing and apparel brands, motor and electric vehicles, hotels and local retail and artisan products. We’re also exploring the landscape for commercial partnerships with technology companies, telecom, energy and those with ambitious goals for sustainability.
What has the interest been like so far?
I’ve been amazed at how many brands and companies buy into and understand the vision and are looking at the opportunity to do something really unique. This is not about a retail mall or even shop fronts, it’s about an immersive experience for the customer, punctuated by likeminded brands adding value to the customer journey and enhancing their trip into this most beloved national park. Everyone I have spoken to so far is thinking that way. We’re doing this at a time when (pandemics aside) the importance of our environment is not only growing, but critical to our future. A sustainable project, designed to protect a significant area of the UK’s environment in mind, is a project everyone can get on board with!
Will there be anything unique or ground-breaking about the Gateway at PEAK?
We shall see. But the vision is that this will be one of the first examples of a Net Carbon Zero building in the UK. I’m excited about what this project means for sustainability, customer experience and the future of retail.