Designer behind Piccadilly Gardens rethink moves to employee owned model

Piccadilly Gardens: a work in progress

LDA Design, the master planner and design business behind the rethinking of Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens, has moved to a fully employee owned trust ownership.

LDA sought refinance as part of its move to 100 percent employee ownership and to acquire working capital through Shawbrook Bank, which has developed a track record of working with Employee Ownership Trusts. 

Founded in 1979, LDA Design is over 200-strong, working from eight studios across the UK. The team includes landscape architects, masterplanners, planners, EIA co-ordinators and urban designers. They are reshaping towns and cities for a climate-responsive 21st century. 

LDA Design led the final landscape masterplan and detailed design of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the transformation of Strand-Aldwych in Westminster, the restoration of Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen, and the creation of new public realm for Battersea Power Station. Current commissions include rethinking Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens and Newcastle city centre streets and spaces. Masterplan projects include Sighthill in Glasgow and the campus for UCL East. 

The company has also worked on renewable energy projects including Hornsea Three, the UK’s largest offshore windfarm and a single habitat creation scheme within HS2’s Green Corridor programme, in Colne Valley.

Dean Phillips, Finance Director and Company Secretary at LDA Design, said “We are proud of our employee-owner led culture, with the entire team getting to shape our future. Shawbrook’s extensive knowledge of Employee Owner Trusts, combined with their understanding of our long-term objectives, proved central to arranging this funding solution.”

John Palmer, Director of Structured Finance at Shawbrook, said: “LDA Design is a well-established, purposeful business, characterised by their strong values and creative culture. At Shawbrook, we do a lot of work in the EOT space and are seeing a growth in demand for this form of ownership. We look forward to working with LDA Design.”

Moore Kingston Smith provided the financial due diligence on the deal and Pinsent Masons provided legal counsel for Shawbrook. 

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