15 inspirational people in construction and commercial property in Gloucestershire

From a sector overflowing with talent, SoGlos has handpicked 15 stand-out faces who have significantly influenced or inspired the world of construction and commercial property in Gloucestershire.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
Sam Carter from EG Carter at the SoGlos Gloucestershire Business Awards 2021.
Sam Carter (centre) picked up EG Carter's Business of the Year trophy at the SoGlos Gloucestershire Business Awards 2021 — and has made our list of 15 inspirational people in Gloucestershire's construction and commercial property sector.
In partnership with Evans Jones  |  evansjones.co.uk
Evans Jones

Celebrating its 50th birthday in 2022, Evans Jones is a firm which remains at the forefront of developments and its recent rebranding saw its name spread across social media. Fronted by David Jones, the company has has offices in Cheltenham, London and the Thames Valley and clients including Cheltenham College, Travelodge, Hazlewoods, Transport for London, the NFU Mutual, and the NHS.

Evans Jones

In no particular order, SoGlos has selected of some of the most talented and inspirational individuals to work in or influence Gloucestershire's construction and commercial property sector in the last 12 months.

While narrowing the list down to 15 was no easy feat, we think the following names are well worth celebrating by virtue of the firms they work for, deeds they have done, projects they are driving, what they represent or the way they conduct their business.

Jeremy Bamberg from Factory

Although the name Jeremy Bamberg might be relatively low profile in Gloucestershire at the moment, the coming together of his Factory business with HBD will help to create one of the county’s most talked about projects. Cheltenham Borough Council chose the HBD X Factory partnership to help it realise the anticipated Golden Valley Development, a transformational project which will establish a cyber-focused business park near GCHQ.

Esther Croft from Reef Group

After years in the waiting, Gloucester has been busy transforming itself from the inside out in 2022; with the £104 million The Forum in and around Kings Square being its latest and most eye-catching development. As development director at Reef Group, Esther Croft heads the team driving the visionary Gloucester City Council project, with her CV going back to the days of the Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company, which helped begin the city’s re-birth.

Simon Tothill from Robert Hitchins

It's difficult to talk commercial property and development in Gloucestershire without mentioning Robert Hitchins, a landowner and developer with an unparalleled portfolio and an ability to bring major and modest schemes to the table. Aside from housing at Twigworth and commercial property at Stonehouse, the firm is currently bringing the 180-acre mixed use outlet scheme at
Ashchuch near Tewkesbury
 to fruition, under the watchful eye of property and development director, Simon Tothill.

Sarah Mansfield from Ladybellegate Estate

What started off sounding like a relatively modest development quickly became one of Gloucester's most eagerly anticipated renovation and repurposing projects of the year. Ladybellegate Estate’s transformation of the former solicitors offices off Commercial Road, overlooking the Victoria Basin at Gloucester Docks, into the Food Dock is destined to become home to 15 independent food outlets. Sarah Mansfield leads the project with her business partner, Ken Elliot.

Adrian Goodall from Rokeby Developments

Despite economic hurdles, including the Covid-19 pandemic, Rokeby Developments and its founder, company director Adrian Goodall, have persisted in their determination to repurpose many of the historic buildings in and around Gloucester Quays, bringing the area back to life as homes for residents and businesses. The company has just revealed its plans for the final phases of the project. 

Ben Ramsay from Barnwood Construction

As managing director of Barnwood Construction, Ben Ramsey leads a team which remains involved in some of the county’s highest profile projects, not least those currently underway at Hartpury College and Hartpury University, whilst remaining committed to apprenticeships. The construction arm of the business, together with Barnwood Shopfitting and Barnwood General Works, is part of the £100 million turnover company that is Barnwood Ltd.

Nicola Bird from AccXel

Anyone who has followed social media for Gloucestershire in the last 12 months will not have missed the name AccXel. Opening at the start of 2022 and partnering with scores of companies, the construction skills centre already expects to have ‘roughly 2,000 learners over the next year through apprenticeships, Skills Steps and short courses' — and a second AccXel is also planned. Nicola Bird’s senior leadership team includes sister and growth and partnership director, Natalie Bell.

David Billingham from Roberts Limbrick

Having designed many of Gloucestershire’s most successful buildings, as well as the swimming arena for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Roberts Limbrick is well known across the county. The director of the Gloucester firm, David Billingham, has most recently been helping Hartpury College and Hartpury University to achieve its ambitious transformational investment in new facilities.

Rachel Hall from Gloucestershire College

Gloucestershire College has just scored another win for the county's construction sector, in the form of a new £80,000 groundworks workshop. Rachel Hall, apprenticeship manager at the college, said the new facilities were the result of listening to its employer partners and will enable apprentices and full-time students to build essential skills. Most of its construction skills are taught in Gloucester – but this is an investment in its Cheltenham campus and the future.

Dorian Wragg from Bruton Knowles

From farms and agricultural land to urban and commercial property; space at Gloucester's multi-million-pound The Forum development, to finding a new developer for the former Ecclesiastical headquarters in the city, Bruton Knowles is at the heart of so much that makes construction and development work in the county and beyond. Partner Dorian Wragg leads the national commercial team at the Gloucester-headquartered firm of chartered surveyors.

Nigel Whittaker from Willans LLP

In 2022, Cheltenham-headquartered solicitors Willans celebrates 75 years in business. The law firm wears its considerable pedigree and heritage with pride rather than for show, focusing on delivering for its clients. Nigel Whittaker leads its team of real estate solicitors and has even been named in the respected Legal 500 guide's elite 'leading lawyers' list  — described by the directory as ‘a guide to outstanding lawyers nationwide’.

Jonathan White from Constructing Excellence Gloucestershire

Jonathan White was elected vice chairman of Constructing Excellence Gloucestershire in June 2019 and chairman in 2021. The influential group was formed over 17 years ago and counts itself as ‘an illustrious and respected platform for industry improvement’ in the county. Ultimately, it exists to help all involved continue to deliver excellence for clients, for their industry and all other users through collaborative working. White is also a senior associate at Quattro Design Architects.

Sam Carter from EG Carter

In September 2021, Sam Carter of EG Carter was at the SoGlos Gloucestershire Business Awards, picking up the award for Family Business of the Year and the headline Business of the Year award. The accolade recognised the Gloucester firm’s outstanding projects, including the £5 million transformation of Kings Square, building two county schools and Cirencester College’s new T-level Building, as well as Gloucester Rugby’s new training facilities. In January 2022, he was appointed joint managing director along with brother, Joshua.

Ruth Dooley from GFirst LEP

It would be remiss not to mention GFirst LEP, a catalyst for so much change in the county, and its chief executive officer, Ruth Dooley, who was appointed in July 2021 and is also a senior partner at accountants Hazlewoods. The LEP continues to seek to be a force for change, most recently investing in improvements to the Golden Valley, Cirencester College’s new facilities, and the pending Cheltenham Growth Hub and new home for Cheltenham Festivals, the Minster Exchange.

Richard Cook from Gloucester City Council

Richard Cook may prefer a low profile, but as the leader of Gloucester City Council, he has been unable to avoid the spotlight at numerous photoshoots for Gloucester's recent construction projects. From leading the ambitious £104 million The Forum project and the transformation of King’s Quarter, to a successful £20 million bid for Levelling Up Fund cash for three other city centre projects and a second bid for more of the same, he has helped keep the council on the front foot.

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