When your practice has been going for nearly 50 years, you hope to have picked up a few clients who have stuck with you along the way. We’re very lucky at DLG that some of our strongest relationships are the product of ten, fifteen or even 20+ years of partnership – not lasting out of comfort or inertia, but through constantly innovating together, finding new ways to do what we’ve already done.

Similarly, we enormously enjoy new and developing partnerships with Client organisations where our role expands beyond the remit of simply designer, to trusted advisor. It’s a part of the job we take seriously, and one which can have enormous impact.

One such expanding relationship is with London City Mission, a ministry of churches with a portfolio of sites across all 32 London boroughs. LCM has brought property experts in-house to devise an ambitious development programme for their sites, to revitalise their current building stock, deliver homes for London and unlock & release asset potential to support their work. To do this, they have brought together a framework of talented and leading design consultants, of which we are thrilled to be a part.

The scale of the ambition is proportionate to the size of the task. Working across multiple sites, with developments from 10 to 150 units, we’ve worked closely with LCM to develop proposals which suit the location, programme and long-term goals for the Client. Not every site is suitable for market housing; across 10 projects, we have multiple tenures, 100% social rent schemes and mixed-use developments combining D1 with traditional flatted schemes. To meet the ambition of the development programme we’ve had to be flexible and responsive – and also to take the initiative, suggesting new uses and approaches where a bit of lateral thinking was needed.

Another client – a large investment manager in the City – has asked us to consider their retail and leisure portfolio, to unlock and propose opportunities for diversification, releasing the potential of often extremely well-connected sites.

This ties in with our long-held interest in retail and the regeneration of our cities and high streets. As members of REVO (Julian sits on the technical board) we often contribute to papers on the future of shopping, but being able to explore this on live sites gives both the benefit of reality, and the opportunity to support our clients’ long-term goals.

Lasting relationships can also lead to trusting partnerships. We hope to foster a spirit of trust which supports the work we do. Knowing their business, their ethos, ideals and beliefs, we are able to ensure the advice we give is both appropriate and helpful. And we know our clients can come to us for an opinion. More and more we are sought after to comment upon an opportunity or a site; is it worth it? Does it fit the profile of our business? Does it give us the opportunity to do something new? With qualifications and expertise across both offices in the residential, workplace, education, PRS, retail and conservation sectors, we consistently find the more we know about and work with our clients, the more we find opportunities to add value – which is when the real opportunity of a project is unlocked.