Gavin Bridge’s Lockdown Diary

​Gavin Bridge, Director at Cubex Land, recently spoke to Estates Gazette about his daily routine during the work from home period, and how it’s meant that workers have to re-think the way they work.

Gavin Bridge is a co-founder and director at mixed-use developer Cubex. Here, he shares his day – 20 August – as he plots a new housing venture, scopes out campsites for his next VW campervan trip and takes to Twitter.

I have never been one to sit for long. Like a lot of people, I’ve had to adjust this year to being more desk-bound. I’d rather be out meeting agents, landowners, designers or contractors. Hands-on is how I like it. Doing deals, getting stuff done.

As the agents return to work and our construction activities press on, it’s time to get back on my Vespa and get out and about.

My day begins at 8.30am with a couple of Teams calls. The first is with PfP Capital, with which we formed a joint venture last year to bring forward urban regeneration projects. Our first is Frome Gateway in Bristol, where we will develop around 1,200 homes over the next few years. The development is really important to the city; the mayor grew up in the area and we’ve been keen to work closely with our public sector partners from the start. Collaboration and local engagement are key, and this is the focus today.

My second call is with my colleague Elgan Jones, running through a list of brownfield sites in the South and South West for a new housing venture aiming to deliver 2,500 low- and zero-carbon homes in the next five years. Built in a modular way using a kit of parts, and sold at an affordable price point, we aim to be a serious sector disrupter.

Lunch is a quick bite at my desk while I try to book a campsite for the next trip with my campervan. With a pop top and table, I’ve dialled into a few Teams calls from it this year from Devon, Wales and by the side of the road in Taunton town centre. Hey, who needs an office when you have a VW T5 Transporter?

At 1.30pm I speak to our development manager Sarah Trahair-Williams, running though the build progress on Halo, our latest office development at Finzels Reach in Bristol. We have just finished the sheet piling, and the big dig to create the basement level has now started.

Funded by Fiera Real Estate, Finzels Reach has been a game-changer. It really put us on the development map. I’m very keen that Cubex starts to look for similar regeneration opportunities away from our Bristol base in the South West, South Coast, South Wales, towns along the M4 and M5 corridors and up into the South Midlands. I grew up and started my career up in Liverpool and I’d love to work back there, and in Manchester too.

Leading on sustainability is very important to me, and I’m proud this is the second BREEAM Outstanding building we have delivered. Creating smarter office buildings is another driver, and I have embedded a smart buildings consultant into the design team. It’s thrown up a few challenges, but we have to change the way we design, build and use our workspaces, now more than ever. I keep saying that many people have more technology in their home than they probably have in their office.

This flows nicely into a couple of discussions on our latest build-to-rent development on the former Avon Fire Brigade HQ site in Bristol. We hope it will be our second deal with Grainger. They are a fantastic customer to work with, and repeat business with great partners is what it’s all about.

Come 3.30pm, I dedicate some time to social media: TwitterInstagram and LinkedIn. Councillors do read and engage, and I think it has certainly helped me and my business stand apart from some others. Our industry has a dreadful reputation and I want to play my part in changing that – breaking down barriers, informing and explaining. I really believe that as developers we need to be more open and accountable.

In my role as South West LandAid chair I want to do what I can to address youth homelessness. With some great partners, we are about 40% though creating East Street Mews. The Bristol project would have cost our charity partner DHI about £1m to deliver, but it has all been done for free so far. This ground-up renovation of three empty properties will provide 11 much-needed homes when we complete next year. More than 3,500 pro bono hours have been invested to date.

Turning 50 last month was a bit of a milestone for me and gave me a chance to reflect. To be honest, looking back, I feel I only really got into my groove at the end of my thirties. It’s important to make a real contribution to the cities and towns in which we work, but also never to rest on our laurels and to challenge the status quo when needed. It’s how innovation and progress come about and, in times like these, it’s more relevant than ever. Still lots to do, but for now it’s approaching 8pm and it’s time for a glass or two of wine.

Originally posted by EG in September 2020.