Across magazine features Activate Director

Andrew Sparrow, Director of Activate – Workman Placemaking is featured along with other industry experts, in ACROSS Magazine’s outlook 2024 special edition.

In the piece, Andrew discusses how placemaking continues to play a key role within the real estate industry, with social value delivery and measurement fundamental.

This article originally appeared in Across.

With the sparkle season upon us, St Christopher’s Place has undergone a magical transformation into St “Christmas” Place – organised with the oversight of the Activate team – with retailers joining in the festive fun.

A chic corner of London, just off busy Oxford Street, St Christopher’s Place is filled with artisans and heritage brands. More than 80% of the scheme’s retail and leisure occupiers are collaborating with the scheme’s festive destination marketing campaign.

From special seasonal menu items at Hoppers and Harry’s to Christmas shopping and prizes to be won at the likes of Christy’s, Whistles, and The Body Shop, St Christopher’s Place will also be hosting a series of complimentary live holiday performances.

The timetable includes performances from The Samaritan’s Choir London, The Groove Chorus, The Jazz Dukes and Catie Mayne.


Our James Wall, General Manager at St Christopher’s Place was recently interviewed on BBC Radio London‘s Breakfast Show with Salma Al-Wardany as part of the programme’s Advent Calendar series, spotlighting free things to do and see this season in London.

James Wall,
General Manager,
St Christopher’s Place

In the interview, James said:

“For the second year running at St Christopher’s Place we have launched St Christmas Place. As well as the vibrant light display, we’ve got these amazing coloured disks that pour across the charming streets and then illuminate at night as the light bounces off them.

“To add to that this year, we wanted to really activate the space. So, as well as eating, drinking, coming together and doing some shopping, we’ve put some free activations on for the customers to enjoy, so on a Thursday and Saturday for the past month, we’ve been hosting various live musical performances: a jazz choir, a quartet, and we’ve even had The Groove Chorus, and the wonderful jazz singer Catie Mayne.

“One other thing we’ve done to layer on top of our live performances, is that we’ve brought snow to the whole event. We’ve got two wonderful snow machines and we flood St Christmas Place full of snow, to bring that real magical wow moment, which as you can imagine has gone down really well with everyone.

“Earlier this week, as an added bonus, we were able to invite a group of children from St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School to perform just after school, and it was wonderful to see them with all the parents and loved ones singing away. Again, we were able to create that wow moment for them by just covering them with snow, which they weren’t expecting, so it was really special.”

Listen to the interview here: BBC Radio London – Salma El-Wardany, 14/12/2023


Read more about the Activate service here.

Andrew Sparrow, Director of Placemaking at ActivateWorkman Placemaking, spoke to Tracy West at Retail Destination, for this feature about how his team of experts is making a difference in the retail space, and rapidly increasing effective enlivenment and destination marketing services within offices too.

Read examples of Activate’s work at chic retail destination St Christopher’s Place, London, as well as enlivenment at Grade II-listed, modernist office building, Smithson Plaza.

It’s all about expertise, says Andrew:

“Over the past four years, we’ve been able to build an expert team. We’ve got marketing people, we’ve got a lot of PR skills, we’ve got event management. We’ve got strategy and planning. It’s quite a broad church of experience, and on any project – whether it be a shopping centre or an office – we could take it from strategy, all the way through to delivery, and everything in between.”

Read the full feature below, or visit Retail Destination here.

Retail Destination interviews Andrew Sparrow, Director of Activate, Workman’s Placemaking team

For more information on Activate’s services, get in touch here:

Contact – Workman Activate (activateplaces.co.uk)

Activate’s onsite activities are focused on key objectives, whether supporting increased customer spend and driving footfall at retail and leisure assets, or increasing use of a space and engaging with occupiers at an office or business park.

Our approach to onsite activation helps build a sense of community among visitors, occupiers and stakeholders: bringing people together and making buildings central to the local community.

For our Activate Placemaking & Destination marketing team, the strategic importance of onsite activities cannot be overstated.

Over the past few months, the team has delivered a series of events at multiple destinations, here’s a round-up of just a few…


Moretown gets moreish

As part of the Activate team’s placemaking programme at Moretown London, a scheme managed by Workman’s Welcome Offices team, a monthly market, Wellness Wednesday, Summer Socials, Family Fun Day, and Live Music every Thursday in August, and visiting Food Trucks have all made for a very moreish foodie summer. At the Summer Social events, occupiers at the St Katharine Docks site were invited into the courtyard to enjoy giant games, live band, pizza truck, a pop-up bar and a caricaturist to encourage people to socialise.

Moretown Summer Social

Smithson Plaza aces Wimbledon

Smithson Plaza occupiers and visitors relished the chance to watch tennis and enjoy Wimbledon-themed refreshments at the central London pop-up, project managed by Activate. “Summer Is Served” featured deckchairs, a large screen, a choice of food and its own Wimbledon signature cocktail. Open daily throughout the tournament (3-16 July), it created a unique atmosphere, surrounded by tennis-inspired installations at the property, which is managed by Workman’s Welcome Offices team.


Towerfields catches Barbie-mania

At Towerfields Leisure Park in Huntingdon, the Activate team capitalised on the buzz generated by the Barbie Movie, taking a creative step by bringing Barbie and Ken to life.

Actors dressed as the two characters strolled through the retail spaces, sparking memorable interactions and taking selfies with both retailers and visitors alike.


Putney Exchange goes green

London’s Putney Exchange offered a space during the school holidays for families to visit to take part in a range of events, featuring various on-site activity publicised through digital campaigns to engage with followers. Activate hosted a green-fingers workshop on site, where children were invited to create flowerpots and received a factsheet about growing plants at home. This provided a space where families could shop and browse, while providing school holiday entertainment. There was also an interactive juggling event, keeping shoppers engaged.

The Activate team has promoted retailers’ events, hosted within stores to encourage visitors to take part. The team also launched a back-to-school competition, giving followers the chance to win and providing another push for retailers. The Activate team is working with popular local magazines and local community groups such as the BID to organise further community-wide activations.


The Springs Shopping Centre joins the circus

Meanwhile, at The Springs in Buxton, a circus workshop drew families into the centre.

This activity was very successful, with reports of some groups staying at the centre for well over an hour longer than their usual dwell time, while enjoying the entertainment.


The Foundry & Marshalls Mill hold a fiesta

The Spanish fiesta-themed social at the Marshall Mills and Round Foundry Estate in Holbeck Urban Village attracted 100 people from the occupier workforce at the Leeds office scheme. Occupiers’ employees were invited to sign up for the event, organised by the Activate destination marketing team.

One of the scheme’s restaurants, Bomba, provided tapas and drinks, which were accompanied by themed entertainment and music to add enlivenment. Many attendees stayed for the full three-hour event, saying they loved the community spirit it gave to the scheme, and that the event brightened up an otherwise dreary lunchtime.


Manchester Fort goes wild for a weekend

There was onsite activity every weekend in August at Manchester Fort, with workshops, a petting zoo, bug hotel and wildlife trail. Activate’s workshops focused on woodland crafts and pinecone making, inviting families into the wooden chalet to interact with the bug hotel. The petting zoo allowed visitors to stop and meet a selection of small animals, interacting and holding them over the course of the day.

This proved a popular month-long event, where the Activate team was able to reach a new audience through ads in the Manchester Evening News and social media posting around each event.


St Christopher’s Place celebrates summer

The Summerscapes destination marketing campaign at St Christopher’s Place – organised with the oversight of Activate – marked a six-week celebration of the summer season heralding new dishes, offers and shopping experiences, as well as the opportunity to get creative with lunchtime art classes.

A chic corner of London, just off busy Oxford Street, St Christopher’s Place is filled with artisans and heritage brands. More than 70% of the scheme’s retail and leisure occupiers collaborated with the destination marketing campaign.


Find out more:

Read more about Activate’s Destination Marketing & Placemaking services.

Read more about our approach to Building Community across our managed portfolio.

As part of Activate’s Placemaking programme at Smithson Plaza in the heart of London’s St James’s, the Wimbledon-themed “Summer Is Served” pop-up opened this week, featuring deckchairs, a large screen, a choice of food and its own signature cocktail.

Opening daily throughout the tournament (3-16 July), it’s designed to create a unique atmosphere, set to become a destination to ace the tennis in style, surrounded by tennis-inspired installations at the property, which is managed by Workman’s Welcome Offices team.

The Wimbledon-themed event – part of a calendar of seasonal experiences to be curated by Activate at the scheme – is designed to help to establish distinctive and attractive business destinations, while enhancing occupier experience and that of the wider community.

With the event open to the public, alongside Smithson Plaza occupiers, Activate will look to host community groups from the West London area. Having identified a number of organisations working with disadvantaged groups who support young talented tennis players to achieve their potential, they hope to provide them with a fun day out in London, across the two weeks of the tournament.

Smithson Plaza, a Grade II listed, modernist icon completed in 1964 by celebrated architects Alison and Peter Smithson, regularly plays host to a bespoke rolling arts programme. Having reviewed the current occupier services available, the Activate team will add value by meeting and communicating regularly with occupiers to shape the future placemaking activity, while engaging with wider stakeholders to create partnerships and collaborative networking opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Activate digital marketing team will lead on content creation and engagement to promote the new programme of events, services and activities to occupiers and the public.

Andrew Sparrow, Director of Placemaking at Activate, said: “As specialists in the development of occupier engagement initiatives, Workman’s growing Activate team is excited to bring this experience to Smithson Plaza.

“Our aim is to bring people together across commercial property through stimulating, social environments that support employees’ and customers’ physical and mental wellbeing in environmentally responsible ways.

“Our team knows that a sense of place and togetherness creates community within buildings, supporting key asset management objectives around increasing tenant satisfaction and retention levels.”

Find out more about Activate’s Placemaking and Destination Marketing services here.

How to make places that matter to people

With retail spaces sitting at the heart of our neighbourhoods, many developers, owners, and managers of retail property across the UK are now evolving their models to tap into the needs and interests of their own communities, in an effort to drive engagement and embed themselves into their local area, writes Emma Henson, Place Marketing Manager at Activate, Workman Placemaking.

Emma Henson, Place Marketing Manager

Shopping centre owners, including Hermes, Ellandi and New River, and their Workman onsite property management teams, are maximising opportunities to deliver services that both attract – and meet the needs of – local people.

By creating mixed-use destinations that meet community needs and aspirations, and by talking with and listening to local people, Activate’s Destination Marketing team brings places to life, helping buildings contribute to vibrant communities.

Family friendly: creating destinations for quality time

At Crystal Peaks shopping centre in Sheffield, Free Friday Family Fun Days were organised throughout the summer holidays in 2022; featuring free sessions to learn skateboarding and climbing, as well as inflatables and bouncy castles. More than 800 children and their families attended, creating a real buzz around the shopping centre and what it meant to local families.

This enlivenment was so successful that it evolved into the centre’s ongoing service: Game On family activities, where a vacant unit was converted into a free family game space including table tennis and football, chess, giant Jenga and Connect4 and other board games.

Centre owner Hermes funded the provision of the equipment, and the facility was opened in July for the summer holidays and then subsequently at weekends and holidays.

It has been hugely popular as a free way for families to spend quality time together, especially relevant during the cost-of-living crisis. The Workman centre management team has since liaised with local authority youth services team about using the space as a location for enhanced youth engagement in 2023.

Local movement: reaching out to schools and charities

Despite the threat of looming recession, many retail assets have increased their investment into social value in a bid to become part of the communities they serve, cementing themselves into the lives and minds of occupiers and consumers, not only by offering empty units to social schemes, focusing on local suppliers and employees, or creating new facilities for use by community groups, but also by reaching out to local schools and charities.

At New River’s Prospect Centre in Hull, the Workman onsite team worked with Parkstone Primary School to design flags for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in May 2022. The centre management team then returned to the school after judging the designs to advise on a winner from each age group and present prizes.

A local radio station attended on the presentation day to interview the winning children, and the local newspaper also showcased the work, which was exhibited in the shopping centre for people to view in the Prospect Gallery. This brought in many of the children and families involved, creating close ties with the local community and a halo effect for the centre.

How does Activate help retail schemes create social value?

Creating social value often involves using Placemaking, Destination Marketing and Enlivenment strategies to engage communities both within and around a development. When buildings support environmental, economic, and social wellbeing, they improve the quality of life of people using them by providing access to services and integration into the wider economy and society.

Across the Workman-managed portfolio, our Destination Marketing and Placemaking strategies are specifically designed to engage occupiers and visitors, to draw in the local community, and make buildings a part of the local community.

Social value creates a shared benefit for stakeholders from the private sector, public sector, and communities. Whether through the creation of local employment opportunities, the maximisation of commercial space, or the delivery of community programmes, the outcome should remain the same: positive social impact that creates change for good.

For more on Activate’s Placemaking and Destination Marketing services, contact Emma Henson, Place Marketing Manager

The first Summer Social event kicked off last week as part of the Activate team’s placemaking programme at Moretown London, a scheme managed by our Welcome Property Management team.

Occupiers at the site, which is located near to St Katharine Docks, were invited into the courtyard to enjoy giant games, live band, pizza truck, a pop-up bar and a caricaturist to encourage people to socialise.

The event marked the first event as part of this year’s schedule for Moretown, with the next offer being monthly wellness sessions, starting this week.

Find out more about Activate’s Placemaking & Destination Marketing in workplaces and retail spaces here.

Workman has expanded its Activate team with new hires, as demand for Destination Marketing and Placemaking services grows, as reported by Retail Destination.

Specialists in Placemaking and Destination Marketing, the team welcomes Emma Henson in the newly created role of Place Marketing Manager.

Having spent the past 10 years working in marketing within retail property and hospitality, Henson will lead Activate’s Destination Marketing team and develop the service to support Workman’s clients’ destination marketing objectives in the future, across offices and business parks, as well as retail and leisure spaces.

In addition, Tia Gowing joins the Activate team as Marketing Events Administrator, and will support the team’s service and growth, focusing on client reporting and liaison with on-site teams.

Emma Henson, Place Marketing Manager
Tia Gowing, Marketing Events Administrator

Activate celebrates fourth anniversary

Now celebrating its fourth anniversary since launch in 2019, the growing Activate Destination Marketing team manages a client marketing spend in excess of £1.2m.

Producing and publishing more than 3,000 pieces of social content every month, the team generates website traffic of in excess of 1.5m visitors each week. A key focus of the team has been to drive social value benefits to clients through their destination marketing activations on site.

Emma Henson, Place Marketing Manager at Activate, said: “I’m delighted to be leading the Activate Destination Marketing team to the next stage in its evolution, supporting our clients as they look to provide valued places for people, especially as we face the pressures of the continued cost-of-living crisis. In today’s market, where office and retail destinations must not only compete against one another, but also against homes and the screen in everyone’s pocket, I believe that places have a crucial role to play in building community – and uniting people in a common vison.”

Andrew Sparrow, Director of Placemaking at Activate, said: “We are aiming to support asset management objectives by increasing occupier satisfaction and retention levels. There is a competitive market in terms of where businesses now take space, so occupiers often question the added value of each site, and what they and their employees stand to gain from it in terms of community, sustainability, and wellbeing.”

Summerscapes: more than 70% of retail and leisure occupiers at St Christopher’s Place sign up to 6-week destination marketing push.

With glorious weather and a steel band for good measure, the Summerscapes destination marketing campaign – in partnership with Activate – marks a six-week celebration of the summer season welcoming new dishes, offers and shopping experiences, as well as the opportunity to get creative with lunchtime art classes. A chic little corner of London, just off of busy Oxford Street, St Christopher’s Place is filled with artisans and heritage brands.  More than 70% of the scheme’s retail and leisure occupiers have collaborated with the campaign this year. Visitors can toast the blue skies with Cote Brasserie’s summery new floral cocktail, the Fleur Spritz, complete with St Germain elderflower liqueur. Or they could shop ‘til they drop to complete their perfect holiday wardrobe at Platform and Whistles. 

Activate’s Spanish Fiesta-themed social at the Marshall Mills and Round Foundry Estate in Holbeck Urban Village attracted 100 people from the occupier workforce at the Leeds office scheme.

Occupiers’ employees were invited to sign up for the event, organised by the Activate destination marketing team.

One of the scheme’s restaurants, Bomba, provided tapas and drinks, which were accompanied by themed entertainment and music to add enlivenment.

Many attendees stayed for the full three-hour event, saying they loved the community spirit it gave to the scheme, and that the event brightened up an otherwise dreary Tuesday lunchtime.

Find out more on Activate’s destination marketing at workplaces.