Property Rocks the Cotswolds

Oli Christie, international urbanised and keynote speaker at Property Rocks, Charles Landry, Rock the Cotswold’s Melissa Ormiston and Nicky Godding, Guy Shone from

Britain’s smaller towns and cities fight back

Rock the Cotswolds started two years’ ago to change perceptions of the Cotswolds. We’re a colourful and creative campaign which showcases the exciting companies, cool bars and restaurants, opportunities, activities, jobs and world class events. 

We love celebrating creativity, but we also have a deadly-serious objective: to encourage inward investment into the region’s towns and cities, and to draw skilled people and young people here to work for our many global companies. Because Cotswold businesses, big and small, need the same skilled people that the UK’s bigger towns and cities are appropriating. And now we’ve come out fighting for them.

Luckily for us, we have a few unique carrots up our sleeve to encourage them to come here.

In November 2016 we hosted Property Rocks, at the former HM Prison Gloucester, now owned by heritage developer City & Country. This was the latest in a line of hugely successful Rock the Cotswolds events we’ve held to showcase the creativity and talent in the area. These include Creativity Rocks, Business Rocks and Innovation Rocks. You can read all about them on our website.


Property Rocks brought 40 experts together to debate how the UK’s smaller towns and cities can successfully compete with larger rivals for funding, investment and skilled people. In the UK, 80% of our population live in urban areas and the rate of urbanisation continues at around 0.7% a year. Cotswold businesses need these people if they are to grow successfully.


Oli Christie, co-founder, Rock the Cotswolds

Our local and national experts in both the public and private sector spent the day sharing ideas and contributing to a Green Paper which shortly will be made available to UK town and city councils as well as regional local enterprise partnerships. We really appreciated their contribution, especially as it was really rather cold in this former prison. But their ideas were hot, hot, hot.


The Green Paper will include findings of the day and specially commissioned research, on what big towns and cities can learn from their smaller counterparts.


Property Rocks participants in the prison chapel

Property Rocks considered how smaller towns and cities can compete with their larger competitors, using Gloucester, Cheltenham and Gloucestershire’s smaller towns as case studies. Property Rocks could not, in one day, consider every facet of the issue so we focused on key issues that Millennials say are important to them: home, health, employment and life opportunities.


The Rock the Cotswolds team and Gemma Brindley, Director of headline sponsor Crowe Clark Whitehill welcomed the guests. Richard Winsborough, Associate Director (Planning) of Prison owners City & Country talked about the prison site’s redevelopment.


Charles Landry, Keynote speaker

We were hugely honoured to have Charles Landry as keynote speaker.  Charles is an international authority on the use of imagination and creativity in urban change. He invented the concept of the Creative City in the late 1980s. Its focus is how cities can create the enabling conditions for people and organisations to think, plan and act with imagination to solve problems and develop opportunities.

Charles gave his vision of how, in relation to The Cotswolds, our cities will cope with increasing urbanisation, digital connectivity, transport infrastructure, jobs, sustainability, food and most important, how cities can become incredible creative and cultural places to enrich lives.


Next up was Kate Godding of C40, a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. It supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change.

Kate, C40’s Grants and Contracts Manager and a Steering Group member of the Young Energy Professionals Board, gave an overview of how C40 is working with bigger cities and highlights sections that could be adopted by The Cotswolds’ smaller towns and cities. Kate, a Millennial, raised in the Cotswolds and now working across the world, also gave her own insight into Charles Landry’s Vortex effect that sucks especially the 24 – 35 year olds into larger cities such as London…the challenge is how you get them back.


Guy Shone, founder of Explain the Market, revealed the results of specially commissioned research, funded by Crowe Clark Whitehill, looking at how the UK’s cities are changing now and people’s expectations for the future.


The Leisure, Arts, Culture and Community group deep in discussion

With these presentations as a starting block our hardly and committed participants broke into three groups led by a facilitator where they discussed the following areas in relation to urban development in the Cotswolds.

Sustainability outside the big cities

– Leisure, Arts, Culture and Community

– Employment and Business Growth

Having shared ideas it was down to a delicious lunch from The Malthouse Bar & Kitchen giving guests to take a look around the cells.


Hype Street Art

During this time the talented Hype Street Art created images that tied in with the day’s events including recreating the debtors wall that has signatures carved into it from prisoners dating back to the 1800s.


Hype Street Art’s art is adorned by Antonia Shield, BPE

Our Group facilitators reported back to the participants and this feedback will be used as the basis of the Green Paper.


Richard Graham MP, wraps up Property Rocks

Richard Graham MP for Gloucester, who has been closely involved in Gloucester’s regeneration for over 10 years wrapped up the day.  He pledged to help Rock the Cotswolds launch the green paper in the House of Commons in the New Year.

Four very good reasons why you should relocate to the Cotswolds

Serious stuff:

Some of the world’s best businesses are here. Really. Creative companies are world leaders, our engineering and manufacturing companies are exporting across the world (in fact where did Prime Minister Teresa May and Chancellor Hammond rock up the day after the Autumn Statement? at Wotton under Edge. of course). We’re becoming world leaders in cyber security and we already lead the grid in terms of automotive engineering (Williams FI, Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin …. etc), Aviation (GE Aviation, Safran Landing Systems) we could go on…

Creatively we’re WAY ahead of the pack. Take a look at some of our Rock the Cotswolds Rockers to see the quality of design, photography and videography.

It’s an inspiring place to live. Traffic jams? A few, but not the bumper to bumper tailbacks on the North Circular or M25. Sometimes it’s just a cow straying on to Rodborough Common. House prices are lower. So are rents.

Fun stuff:

Take a look at our main website. 

Watch this space…


As ever we’d like to say thank you to our sponsors and supporters who have been a huge factor in making Property Rocks possible:

Headline sponsor

Crowe Clark Whitehill
Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP is an award-winning national accountancy firm offering audit, tax and advisory services to all levels of business from entrepreneurs to large corporates. It is a part of Crowe Horwath International the ninth-largest association of professional services firms in the world, a network with 200 independent accounting and advisory firms in over 100 countries.


Gemma Brindley, Crowe Clark Whitehill

Co-sponsors & Supporters

Evans Jones
Evans Jones is an independent firm of Chartered Surveyors and Planning Consultants established in 1972. Based in Cheltenham, the practice provides services to the Commercial and Residential Property sectors across the whole of the UK.


David Jones (left) of Evans Jones with Jeremy Williamson of the Cheltenham Development Task Force 

City & Country
City & Country is an award-winning developer of historic and listed buildings. Specialising in restoring and breathing new life into some of our country’s most important heritage assets, it creates exceptional properties and commercial space. Now the proud owners of the former HMP Gloucester, City & Country is excited to be holding Property Rocks at this iconic site which it believes will become a great catalyst to regenerate this area of the City.


Richard Winsborough, City & Country

The Malthouse Bar & Kitchen
Stroud’s first Malthouse-to-Restaurant. Offering a fine selection of Anglo-American cuisine alongside speciality cocktails, coffees and Freakshakes.


Sarah Capewell (centre) of The Malthouse Bar & Kitchen

FleaBee Films
….is all about creating contemporary and beautiful films that help companies exhibit their ideas. Specialising in social video campaigns, website promos and online marketing, FleaBee Films will assist in building exciting visual brand awareness.


Hype Street Art
Both commercial and domestic clients have the opportunity to get their own personalised street art with this talented group.


Major Entertainment Ltd
Major Entertainments Ltd supply quality entertainment, venue dressing and technical/sound support for all events; whatever the occasion.

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