A housing development which involves the remarkable restoration and conversion of a derelict pub has helped T A Fisher reach the finals of the Thames Valley Property Awards (TVPA) 2020.
T A Fisher, which is 125 years old this year, launched Castlebrook in February. The scheme in North Warnborough near Odiham in Hampshire, offers 11 new houses in a mews-style development where four of the properties make up the showpiece of the scheme, the restored former Jolly Miller pub.
It was originally designed by architect Arthur J Steadman, who was commissioned by Alton-based brewery Crowley’s in 1908. So successful was his distinctive design, it was replicated in a number of others across North Hampshire.
Although the building is not listed, T A Fisher pursued a restoration route and worked closely with the Planning Authority Conservation officer to ensure the heritage and character of the building was protected while converting it to four new houses.
The work involved some fine detail including replacing a missing ‘R’ where the name of the pub had been carved into the woodwork beside the front door of one of the new homes.
The scheme, which falls within a conservation area, also includes seven new build houses. These were designed to complement neighbouring Castlebridge Cottages, a row of 15th Century Grade II-listed properties.
A particular challenge thrown up by the scheme was to solve a localised flooding problem caused by poor maintenance of a culvert which affected a section of the site as well as neighbouring property. T A Fisher’s solution, including upgrading the culvert head wall, has alleviated the issue.
T A Fisher’s entry in the TVPA is in the Housebuilder of the Year category. The firm’s entry states: “The conversion itself has restored a neglected piece of architecture, which was visible to all those passing through the village, back to its former glory with the full characterful façade now fully restored.”
Castlebrook is one of several projects in the recent T A Fisher pipeline which have had widely varying characteristics and challenges.
In summing up its approach, managing director John Fisher, said: “ The Castlebrook project provided particular challenges especially centred on the existing building which required very careful assessment of the existing structure which had been altered several times over the years. I have to commend our construction team on their diligence passion and commitment.”
In Hook, Acorn House represents another mix of a conversion to new homes alongside new build properties.
Around two years ago the firm completed a scheme called Blue Prior at Church Crookham where new build homes were part of a development which also included a children’s day nursery, assisted living apartments and a BUPA care home.
Along with delivering new homes Blue Prior created diverse job opportunities.
There are 25 homes currently being built in Sonning Common and T A Fisher will shortly begin work on a beautiful 20 acre site in Mortimer, a village where its head office had been for more than 20 years.
That scheme has involved considerable engagement with the local parish council and could potentially unlock a new school and doctors’ surgery.
TVPA winners will be announced at the final on September 3 at Ascot Racecourse.
A housing development which involves the remarkable restoration and conversion of a derelict pub has helped T A Fisher reach the finals of the Thames Valley Property Awards (TVPA) 2020.
House of Fisher, the serviced apartment division of Thames TAP partner T A Fisher, and Fishron Securities have applied to remodel and extend four-storey Lawrie House, an office building in Victoria Road.
Under the scheme submitted to Rushmoor Borough Council, the building will be extended at the rear and an additional floor added.
The recently refitted bank, where NatWest and RBS have been consolidated into one branch to serve the wider area, will be retained on the ground floor.
The 0.18-hectare site will include 23 parking spaces for guests. It is a short walk from Farnborough station and the town’s main shopping area.
A breakdown of the apartments reveals 11 studios, 19 one-bedroom, seven two-bedroom and two three-bedroom air conditioned suites with fibre Wi-fi and CCTV pre-installed and there will be amenity space and staff area on the first floor.
T A Fisher managing director John Fisher said: “The scheme will respond positively to the post COVID-19 world, with it being a House of Fisher dedicated building featuring coded access for self-check-in and with fully equipped kitchens for that self-contained home-away-from-home stay.
“House of Fisher has been awarded the Compliance Assured Provider GBR status from ISAAP (the International Serviced Accommodation Accreditation Process), a status we secured following independent assessments via ASAP (Association of Serviced Apartments Providers) which will now be introducing the initiative ‘ Stay with Confidence Promise’.
“The scheme recognises members who deliver an exceptional standard of hygiene and health and safety, all of which will be at the top of guests’ agenda looking ahead.
“There is also a guest lounge, co-working area and fitness room for exclusive guest use.
“Farnborough, with its exceptional communication network including the international airport, is a magnet for global corporates and already is home to a wide range of companies from key sectors.”
The team on the project includes Woolf Bond as planning consultancy and Harding Rose as architect.
For visits this will include:
o Viewings by appointment ONLY
o Viewings/Appointments are for a maximum of 2 people from the same household and no children are to accompany.
o Appointments can only be booked if a customer is not displaying Covid 19 symptoms.
o If a customer does have symptoms then they are required to self-isolate for 2 weeks prior to visiting our homes.
o Hand sanitiser stations will be available on entry and visitors will be expected to use.
o 2m social distancing will be adhered to on appointments and therefore face masks are not required but customers can of course wear their own mask if preferred.
o Gloves will be provided and must be worn during viewings. Customers can also wear their own appropriate gloves if preferred.
o Customers will be expected to respect the measures in place and be courteous to the Sales Advisor. If customers do not adhere to the guidelines then they will be asked to leave the premises immediately.
o No refreshments will be offered and no toilet facilities will be made available to visitors.
Ensure social distancing measures are in place in Sales Environments. Customers are to be offered the option to virtually view show homes if they still feel uncomfortable visiting sales office/show home:
• When booking/confirming an appointment an email confirming Customer Guidance will be attached.
• Appointments will have allocated timeslots and have a minimum of a 15-minute interval between appointments to reduce congestion if an appointment overruns. Customers will be asked to wait in their vehicles until the office/show home is vacated.
• On arrival customers will be directed to and asked to apply hand sanitiser.
• Social distancing measures will be implemented. Signage will be strategically placed for information for staff and customers. Where possible markers, tape or barriers will be placed to ensure a minimum of 2m between the sales consultant and customers at all times.
• Customers to view show homes on their own or with a sales consultant providing they stay a minimum of 2m way whilst showcasing.
• Customers will be provided with disposable gloves which are to be worn at all times whilst viewing the show home to minimise contact and to avoid cleaning touch points after every viewing.
• Where possible our sales staff will unlock the front door to the show home and leave it open with a door wedge to allow ease of access.
• All internal doors to be left open to minimise touch point contact.
• Sales brochures/materials will not be left on surfaces or offered. To minimise contact/transference collateral will be emailed and available online unless a client expressly requests a hard copy.
• Customers to be reminded during viewings of social distancing and that sales consultants will require to allow a min of 2m distance.
• Viewings must be arranged by appointment ONLY
• Viewings/Appointments are for a maximum of 2 customers from the same household with no children allowed.
• Appointments can only be booked if those visiting are not displaying Covid-19 symptoms.
• If a customer/visitor does have symptoms, then they are required to self-isolate for 2 weeks prior to visiting our office.
• Hand sanitiser stations will be available on entry that all visitors will be expected to use.
• 2m social distancing will be adhered to on appointments. Face masks are not required.
• Gloves will be provided and must be worn at all times in the show homes during viewings. Customers may also wear their own appropriate gloves but will be required to use sanitiser prior to entering the show home.
• If the appointment prior to your own overruns you will be asked to wait in your vehicle or outside until the office is vacated.
• Customers will be expected to respect the measures in place and be courteous to the Sales Team. If customers do not adhere to the guidance then they will be asked to leave the premises immediately.
• Sales brochures will be not be offered instead emailed or available online unless expressly requested
• During these times no refreshments will be offered and no toilet facilities will be made available to visitors.
Please adhere to these guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone during your visit. Keeping our customers and staff safe is our top priority.
Thank you for your co-operation during these challenging times.
While T A Fisher is a familiar and respected name throughout the Thames Valley, its origins are relatively humble. The firm’s growth and evolution has largely matched that of its Reading base since it launched as a one-man-band in 1895.
Thomas Alfred Fisher started the firm as a signwriting, marbling and gilding provider. But he was an artist with an eye for business and even in those early days, diversity and innovation were much in evidence.
Mr Fisher turned part of his Cholmeley Road base in East Reading into an off-licence. It later became the Eastgate public house. Gradually the artistic endeavours gave way to building and development and, in 1960, Thomas Fisher’s grandson, Keith, accelerated the firm’s redirection, almost by accident.
The family wanted to build two bungalows on the underused part of the firm’s yard and Keith decided they should have central heating.
Speaking to local media in 2003, Keith, now 95, said: “What pushed us was that this was a time when central heating was first being thought of in small houses. Nobody had central heating then, so we put it into the houses at the yard.
“We ended up being official installers for Shell Mex and BP. We were the first people to put central heating in small houses.”
More and larger installations were taken on leading to including putting systems into entire estates. Growing levels of activity built the firm’s presence in the property sector, where it became a rarity – a local family-based developer competing among nationals with muscle and money.
Keith’s son, John Fisher, worked at the firm before a spell at Scotchbrooks estate agents in Reading.
His return in 1984 was another landmark in T A Fisher’s storybook.
As managing director of new homes and land at Scotchbrooks, he had to take a step down to return to T A Fisher.
He has been managing director since 1990 and during his 30-year reign, the company has broadened it horizons significantly, creating the wide-ranging company which is highly active in today’s market.
In the 1980s T A Fisher built, and moved into, new offices at Mortimer, the first of many thousands of square feet of commercial space it was to build. Naturally it was T A Fisher which converted that building to residential when the firm moved offices to Theale in 2015.
T A Fisher has assembled a sizeable investment portfolio which underpins its range of development and operational activity.
John Fisher said: “As a company we’re in a very good place and the diversity of our activities usually acts as an effective foil against particular market turbulence. The other key ingredient is that we stick to our core subject which is property in the Thames Valley and that policy has served us well!”
In the second of three articles marking the 125th anniversary of T A Fisher, managing director John Fisher says more SME housebuilders are needed.
T A Fisher says its strengths as a local, family business operating in multiple sectors, has helped it deal with today’s challenges – and believes more SME housebuilders are needed.
The Theale-based company now operates across several sectors: house building, commercial and mixed-use development, property investment and serviced apartments and apart-hotels. The latter operation, House of Fisher, is underpinned by a substantial property portfolio in which the company has a significant ownership proportion.
Those activities have often combined to bring a dynamic offer which larger operators would struggle to match.
Managing director John Fisher said: “In today’s market there is a good deal of fluidity and inter dependency between the company activities. This broad base and bandwidth of expertise brings considerable added value to any new proposition.
“Not only is there a very interesting interface between different components, which is becoming very fashionable, but it also excites land-owners and partners who are able tap into a rich vein of options – often making the difference between a deal or no deal.
“Knowing how to extract best value and the most agreeable planning route for both developer and landowner is critical.”
House of Fisher, which Mr Fisher established in 1998, is now the fourth largest owner-driver operation in the sector. It won top awards in the serviced apartment industry in both 2017 and 2018. There is also a corporate housing division which supplies a global telecoms company with accommodation.
T A Fisher’s residential (housebuilding) operation has never been in better shape. It is nearing completion on a highly-challenging conservation project in North Warnborough which involved the conversion of an existing public house into four unique homes alongside courtyard new-build cottages.
The impressive scheme has attracted many plaudits for the way it blends new with old and has struck a chord with today’s discerning house-buying public which appreciates the caring and sympathetic approach.
T A Fisher says few companies are willing to take on that kind of challenge. The firm says local skilled tradespeople who share the firm’s pride in their work are needed to successfully execute work of that type.
The pipeline of T A Fisher housing projects is both active and varied. It includes a strategic site in Sonning Common, a large Neighbourhood-Plan site in Mortimer (on land acquired from the Englefield Estate) for 110 houses along with a new infant school and doctors’ surgery and further sites in Hermitage, Hartley Wintney, Cold Ash and others.
While T A Fisher largely focuses on the Thames Valley, the apart-hotel side of the business will travel further to secure growth. In all sections of the business, there is an insistence on quality.
Managing director John Fisher said: “Our operation relies on identifying opportunities where we can genuinely make a difference, either by improving the quality of the built environment or adding value in some other way.
“We get a great thrill out of looking back and reflecting on the developments where we have genuinely improved the local environment and we have done that on countless occasions.
“We are in world where a lot of products are mass produced. Indeed, in the housebuilding business, a huge amount is built by plc housebuilders.
“But there needs to be more housing produced by SME builders like us. SME housebuilders offer so much more; tending to engage local trades people, buy local materials and engage on a local level with stakeholders.
“Crucially too, the local builder has a reputation to protect so is more likely to achieve a better standard of finish and that must be good for the customer – like us, the local trades person cannot hide!
“In the world where the carbon footprint is suddenly very high on the agenda, that has to be a very considerate and compelling approach, going forward.”
Mr Fisher says the firm’s approach is illustrated by the fact it has been shortlisted for Housebuilder of the Year in this year’s Thames Valley Property Awards. Winners will be announced at the final in September.
He added: “If nothing else, there is no other company that has a pedigree like T A Fisher.
“For example, our NHBC claims record is second to none. Every year we receive a refund from the NHBC, based on our claims record of houses built 10 years ago.
“That record speaks for itself. I doubt very much whether any housebuilders can touch us in that regard.”
T A Fisher is 125 years old in 2020. In the first of three articles celebrating the past, present and future of TA Fisher, we look at how we are facing the current COVID-19 crisis.
While the property sector faces its most difficult time in most people’s living memories, one developer and investor had pledged it won’t be among the casualties.
T A Fisher celebrates its 125th anniversary during 2020 and managing director John Fisher has made it clear that the family firm, now in its fourth generation and having come through two world wars, will survive the current crisis and continue to thrive.
The company has been rooted in and around the Reading and Thames Valley since it began as a signwriting firm in 1895 and has ongoing developments throughout the region along with a substantial division devoted to providing serviced apartments.
But as the world began to face the COVID-19 crisis and the massive effects on the business and property worlds, careful management over many years has left T A Fisher protected against the financial storm the crisis has brought.
Mr Fisher, who was winner of the Outstanding Contribution of the Year award at Thames Valley Property Awards in 2016, said: “We now find ourselves in a scary new world immersed in the fallout from COVID-19.
“So many markets, individuals, companies are being impacted. It seems no-one is immune from the crises.
“Unfortunately, there will be casualties from the economic downturn. For sure, T A Fisher won’t be amongst them although it must be said, we’ve been facing some very difficult and taxing issues over the past few weeks. One generation had to deal with wartime and now the fourth generation is having to deal with a quasi-wartime situation.
“But, as a considerate SME, the company is thinking of its staff and doing everything it can to keep business running, albeit in a somewhat different manner.
“T A Fisher has enough resilience to cope with this kind of crisis. The company has very little debt and plenty of cash in the bank; the key ingredients to stave off a downturn, whatever the cause may be.
“Indeed, our multi-faceted company with both operational development and investment aspects, has always fared better during a difficult market and so, yet again, will be eager to look at any new opportunities that may arise when the market gets back on its feet.”
During these difficult and uncertain times T A Fisher have been continually reviewing the situation in relation to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak with our priority being the health and welfare of our employees, customers, consultants, sub-contractors and suppliers.
Following a review of the most recent guidance available, at this time, and giving consideration to the anticipated activities on our developments we are now operating with a greatly reduced workforce on a select number of our sites.. This reduction will enable those who are working to do so in safe and controlled manner in accordance with Site Operating Procedures published by the Construction Leadership Council, which will help protect them and minimise the risk of spreading the infection.
There are currently no restrictions in place that would require our sites to be closed so long as we’re working safely and following the relevant guidelines.
Given the work force are unable to work at home it is a requirement of their job to travel to and from their place of work, which can continue, as stated in the Secretary of State for Business’s letter, dated 31st March 2020. A copy this letter and can be downloaded here:
We will review the situation as necessary and continue to take appropriate actions to play our part in the fight against the virus.
T A Fisher
T A Fisher are taking the developing reports of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) very seriously.
We are currently following the latest Government guidance and advice to limit the spread of Coronavirus and protect the health and wellbeing of our Customers and Staff. Head office is now temporarily closed allowing staff to work remotely, at home.
Our show homes, are also closed for viewings until further notice.
T A Fisher are aware that this is an unprecedented situation so will continue to follow the latest Government advice as it evolves.
Thank you in advance for your support and co-operation.
T A Fisher
A planning application is being submitted early in the new year for a striking 63,000 sq ft office building at Basing View, Basingstoke.
The Glasshouse, proposed by Fishron Properties Ltd, a joint venture between T A Fisher and Lamron Estates, is a spectacular new headquarters development on the site of the former Canon photocopier showroom.
The building, designed by Fibonacci Architects, has 127 decked car parking spaces with four floors of offices above which can be divided for flexibility and subdivision if necessary.
However, T A Fisher managing director John Fisher said: “For any larger HQ enquiries our building is a stand out option, being located in arguably the best site on Basing View.
“It has prominence, visibility and is close to the station. Right now Basingstoke has a compelling case with headline rents being around £25 – £27.50 per sq ft as opposed to £35 to £40 per sq ft in Reading and Maidenhead.
“Ideally we would like to pre-let the whole building but it has the flexibility to be subdivided into eight demises with floor plates of 15,000+ sq ft.”
The current design shows the building will have around 20 electric charging spaces, cycle storage, showers and changing rooms, green roof terraces, BREEAM Excellent and EPC A ratings and will have a two-star Fitwel rating, which measures health and wellbeing aspects of a building on a scale of one to three stars.
There will be a café on a mezzanine break out area.
Subject to planning, the development is likely to complete in 2021.
Baker Davidson Thomas is currently the sole local agent marketing the scheme.
The first homes in T A Fisher’s latest development are set to be unveiled at an October 5 preview.
Plots five, six and seven at Castlebrook, a select scheme of 11 homes in North Warnborough, Hampshire, form a terrace of stylish three-storey houses.
Each has a large open plan living/dining room with fully integrated kitchen and double French doors to the garden at the rear. There is also a downstairs cloakroom and storage cupboard.
And there are surprises upstairs with two double bedrooms on the first floor including the master with its en suite and walk-in fitted dressing room and a third floor attic room which could make a further bedroom, home office, den or games room.
In the immediate neighbourhood of Castlebrook is an excellent pub/restaurant and, a short distance away, there are beautiful historic buildings and places of interest such as King John’s Castle.
The Castlebrook development is on the site of the former Jolly Miller pub and its location offers opportunities both for walking and cycling. The Basingstoke Canal is nearby too.
Further plots within the Castlebrook scheme will include both further new builds and new homes created in a careful conversion of the attractive former pub building.
It is one of a number in the area designed by architect, Arthur J Steadman, who was commissioned by Alton-based brewery, Crowley’s, in 1908.
McCarthy Holden managing director, John Holden, said: “We are looking forward to our buyers being able to view the superb new homes in North Warnborough, by the long-established developer T A Fisher.
“Having seen their build quality and checked out the company history, I can understand why buyers are reassured in buying a new home from this family run business which has been around for over a century.
“The architectural design and attention to detail will result in some eye-catching new homes in this small select development at Castlebrook.”
Keep tabs on McCarthy Holden’s website at https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/new-homes-for-sale-6th-october/ and facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/McCarthyHolden/ for images, information and videos about Castlebrook and for all the up-to-date news on prices.
The preview on Saturday, October 5 offers the first chance to see inside the development.
For an appointment please contact McCarthy Holden on 01256 704851.