STEVEN DOWNES reports on the colourful character behind the business which is set to buy up Croydon’s loss-making house-building company
The company tipped to take failed housing company Brick by Brick off Croydon Council’s hands has broken loan covenants and needed multi-million-pound bail-outs of its own in the past to enable it to continue trading.
And since the Grenfell Tower tragedy four years ago, a number of developments by Manchester-based Urban Splash have been reported as having used flammable cladding which failed to comply with building safety regulations – hardly reassuring from a company that was established by a bloke whose previous job was selling fire extinguishers door-to-door.
Urban Splash was co-founded in 1993 by Tom Bloxham, a colourful character and Labour-supporting “celebrity” entrepreneur of the kind you might expect to see on Dragon’s Den. Bloxham is so celebrated, he even has his own portrait in the National Portrait Gallery – posed with loads of breeze blocks, arranged, of course, brick by brick.
A former pupil of Tiffin School in Kingston, Bloxham has been based in Manchester since going to read politics and history at the university there. From running a poster shop and being a fire extinguisher salesman, in his mid-20s Bloxham partnered with an architect, Jonathan Falkingham, to form Urban Splash, with a focus on “regeneration”, converting Manchester’s ample supply of disused industrial buildings for residential use. Continue reading