A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Hiltongrove's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Hiltongrove is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Guy Davis, CEO
Dubois scheme,
iltongrove is a design-led property company focusing
on quality residential developments and high-end
offices, studios and retail properties. Driven by a
genuine passion for regeneration, architecture and delivering
outstanding schemes, the company owns and manages over
200 apartments, offices and shops around the country. They
also plan to deliver up to 300 new housing units over the next
two years. Guy Davis, their chief executive, discusses all things
Hiltongrove in the article below.
What we do
Put simply, we buy buildings to convert into residential schemes, offices and retail
hubs coupled with sourcing development land for new-build homes. Our ethos
is simple: design and build homes in which we’d like to live, and provide working
environments in which we’d like to work.
I founded Hiltongrove as a music business in 1994 from a back bedroom in
Walthamstow with a £10,000 loan from Barclays to create a small mastering
studio. A move to a local business centre soon followed, and the number of studios
grew to five within three years. Customers included the BBC, Warner Brothers,
»CEO: Guy Davis
»Established in 1994
»Based in Walthamstow,
»Services: Residential
»No. of employees: 12
»Offices: The Quant Building
»Originally founded as a music
EMI, Universal, the London Symphony
Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic
Orchestra and many more.
The formation of a property company
happened by accident. A number of
Victorian buildings within a cobbled
mews in Walthamstow came up for
sale, and made the ideal setting for
a growing media company whose
reputation had started to percolate
throughout the music industry, both
within the UK and beyond.
As the studios and offices themselves
took up only a relatively small
percentage of the floor space, the
decision was made to rent out the
other rooms for small start-ups,
provided that they had something to
do with music, media or the arts. Thus,
the first Hiltongrove media business
centre was born, and, as the rental
income increased, more buildings
within the area were purchased to
grow the property side of the business.
My passion for architecture and all
things property related overtook the
music side of the business, and, with
the onset of the internet revolution
and the prevalence of downloading,
I decided to sell the music business in
2006 to concentrate on property.
The housing crisis
Despite the downturn in 2008,
Hiltongrove continued to grow and
was able to carve a niche business
by offering small flexible workspace
opportunities. The biggest change
to the business came about in 2013,
when the then secretary of state for
environment, Eric Pickles, announced
that it would be possible to convert
existing office buildings throughout
the majority of London, to residential
use, without going through the
planning process.
This was an absolute boon, not just for
property developers like Hiltongrove,
but – more importantly – for the dire
housing crisis we found (and continue
to find) ourselves in. This single
decision was a significant first step in
the right direction to help alleviate the
housing crisis.
The housing crisis is real. It affects
hundreds of thousands of “invisible”
people: the hidden generation – the
workers we know exist but know
next to nothing about. As a property
developer, we have witnessed the
problems first hand. For example,
some time ago, one of the Hiltongrove
staff members showed a Polish brother
and sister a small studio apartment
to rent in Walthamstow. The space
was modest, to say the least: a single
room with kitchenette, double bed
and a bathroom. When my colleague
suggested that it may not be suitable
for a sibling couple, the two were
insistent to the point of desperation
that they take it there and then. It
wasn’t hard to understand why.
After all, they were living in a house
in East Ham with 12 other Polish
men and women – 14 adults, in one
dwelling with one kitchen and just one
bathroom with a single toilet.
The Hiltongrove N1
business centre
We design
and build
homes in
which we’d
like to live,
and provide
in which we’d
like to work
Highlighting best practice
This state of affairs is horrendous –
harking back to the Victorian era, in
the worst possible sense. Speak to
almost any London postman or delivery
driver and you’ll hear similar horror
stories of the number of places they
have visited, seeing contained within
them half a dozen sleeping bags on
the floor in one room.
Indeed, one of my gardeners sleeps
on a bunk bed with three others in his
room. Moreover, it isn’t even his bunk
bed – he has occupation rights for only
12 hours a day. No one planned ahead
for the incredible population growth
focused in London and the southeast;
no one thought through the realities.
As a result, it is the poorest and lowest-
paid that are paying the highest price.
The genius of the PDR (permitted
development rights) decision was
that it allowed developers to create
dwellings without having to refer to
local authority planners and their views
on what the market needed. It meant
that Hiltongrove was able to create
60 apartments in a former HMRC
building, providing excellent housing
accommodation with a range in size
from micros to two-bed units.
What was also particularly welcome
about this was that we could make
any and all design decisions, provided
they were compliant with building
regulations, without interference from
people who were patently out of step
with the housing needs of the UK.
Significant changes for the UK will
be forthcoming in terms of the
architectural landscape and the density
of housing more generally. There will
have to be an acceptance that this
is the price we will all have to pay
for a vibrant growing economy and
incredible population growth. As a
company, we aim to be at fore of
these exciting new changes.
changes for
the UK will be
in terms of
both the
landscape and
the sector
more generally
Proposal by Guillaume
Dubois for new
penthouse scheme
in Walthamstow,


This article was sponsored by Hiltongrove. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister