Property firm MacDonald Egan has launched a development arm that will focus on delivering regeneration schemes
The division, called Urban Alchemy, will acquire city sites and employ architects to produce mixed-use schemes.

Urban Alchemy will be headed by MacDonald Egan directors Graham MacDonald and Colm Egan, and Ken Cowdrey, recruited from project management consultant Measure.

Cowdrey said that the decision to create Urban Alchemy was an attempt to maintain sole control of regeneration projects, in order to ensure quality of design.

He said: "We don't just want to focus on being a property company. On a typical joint venture we plan great schemes but the housebuilder will often dilute the designs."

Urban Alchemy has two schemes on the books. It is working on proposals for 60 live–work spaces in Deptford High Street, south-east London, and a town square at Stamford Works in Dalston, north London. Dalston is one of the Greater London Authority's priority sites for regeneration.

The Deptford project has been concept-designed by ME Studios, MacDonald Egan's in-house architect, and architect TP Bennett.

We don’t just want to focus on being a property company

Ken Cowdrey, Urban Alchemy

For the Stamford Works project, architect Hawkins\Brown has designed the town square with 8000 m2 of commercial and residential space.

Cowdrey said that Urban Alchemy might also take over a MacDonald Egan scheme in Deptford. The firm has been seeking a housebuilder as a joint-venture partner for its landmark 28-storey mixed-use tower, designed by architect John McAslan + Partners.

  • David Higgins, English Partnerships' chief executive, this week pledged to set up a "fast-track" training programme to attract graduates into regeneration, in line with the recommendations of the Egan Skills Review.

    The programme will be in place by next year and will sit alongside EP's skills programme, which aims to emphasise leadership, management skills and technical competence. Higgins said that the development of skills was needed to allow urban regeneration companies to move rapidly from planning to delivery.