Dave Bathurst breaks down the latest in Bristol


Since 2015 we have maintained a growing presence in the South West and we moved into our current location in Bristol during summer 2023.

Bristol has won accolades for being the best city for living, working, and sustainability, but the city is also the place to be for construction and engineering, according to Regional Director Dave Bathurst. In this regional focus, we catch up with Dave who is more than positive about our future in Bristol.

Since we opened our latest office in Bristol, what have you been up to?

Our initial objective has been to make our presence known in the area; telling the story of Rodgers Leask, our aims and what makes us different. Bristol is a bustling but competitive city so making sure we stand out from the crowd will give us the traction we need to generate interest in our services.

At this stage in our journey, our biggest strength is our geo-environmental capability, with this expertise represented by the largest proportion of our multi-disciplinary team. It’s a discipline that isn’t prevalent in many multi-disciplinary organizations, so being able to help our clients get out of the ground and then support them with the other engineering know-how that their projects need gives us a competitive edge.

Although still in its infancy, the Bristol office already features Geo-environmental, Civils and Transport Planning capability. Our aim to add a Structures presence will satisfy the full complement of services that Rodgers Leask offer. To have all four disciplines represented in Bristol isn’t just a stab in the dark, it’s a measured move to meet demand and broaden our appeal to clients who want a one stop shop.

We’re now two month’s into 2024, what are you expecting from this year in the South West?

Logistics and distribution centres are on the rise, which is great as we work within this sector in Bristol and South Wales. There is also a resurgence in housing as the demand is at a record high. Local authorities are moving forward with plans for schemes and look set to build their own again to bridge the gap that the private sector aren’t satisfying.

Local authorities are looking to release land to fund other projects where needed. Lots of small infill developments are overlooked as they are not easy to develop, but with the help of companies like us, they can be unlocked. For brownfield sites such as old petrol stations, for example, we can explore ways to decontaminate them and make them fit for future use. This aligns well with the governments ‘brownfield first approach’ and supports our own company’s drive on sustainability. It also complements the other environmentally focused work we do such as sustainable drainage systems, nutrient neutrality, active travel planning and sustainable earthworks strategies.

For individuals like myself, and company’s like Rodgers Leask, who care deeply about the human impact on our planet, there is lots to be positive about, but there is a lot of hard work that needs to be done first.

Beyond that, what is the long-term plan right now?

The plan is growth. Growing our team in numbers and growing even more confident in our offering. It’s more important than ever to attract the best talent and make sure that we are bringing in the experts who will strengthen and support our multi-disciplinary approach. We want people to know that Rodgers Leask can deliver a variety of projects and have the expertise and can-do attitude to help from a variety of angles.

Being involved in interesting projects is something that we strive for as everyone in our team wants to be continually challenged and at the forefront of innovative solutions. Flagship regional projects that require careful planning, thinking and collaboration are challenging but ultimately the most rewarding. It’s important to us that most of our work is visibly making a difference in the area and region.

What exciting projects are you working on at the moment?

To highlight just one, it has to be Glan Lyn in Llanwern, Newport. The project involves almost our entire team and it encapsulates everything we do, while also aligning with our sustainability and regeneration values. There are all types of challenges, from flood risk and drainage, through to operational issues like transport logistics.

It’s a huge site so there is a lot to do over an extended period – making it ideal for those early in their career as it offers great exposure to different engineering issues and solutions.

Why should people be taking notice of our growing presence in the South West?

It’s strategically important to have an office in Bristol, it’s the gateway to the South West and the city’s economy is expected to outpace the rest of the UK over the next five years. Our office is on the edge of the city next to the M4 and M5 which means we have a Bristol address, but we are also within easy reach of other major cities in the region such as Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud, Newport, Cardiff, Weston-super-Mare, Bridgwater, Taunton, Bath and Swindon.

What advice would you give to other companies looking at the South West as a region in which to invest resources?

It’s an attractive place to live and work, it has a thriving economy and it’s well connected. London is only two hours away by train, and Birmingham one hour twenty minutes, and yet it’s still a very rural area that is within easy reach of beautiful countryside and attractive coastline.

The region is also home to some big companies such as Dyson, Intel, St James’s Place, Nationwide, Imperial Brands, Airbus, Rolls Royce and EDF.

Because of its popularity it’s a competitive market, but good companies can thrive by attracting talent with the right expertise, and a willingness to embrace your values and ethos, you have a formula to succeed.

Are you set to attend any events this year in the region?

I prefer to meet on a business to business basis so I can understand the specific interests and aspirations of individuals and local organisations, but I will also be attending as many regional networking and industry social events as I can.

I recently joined an event that was attended by the Deputy Mayor of Bristol. I thought she spoke very confidently and reassuringly about the future of the city and surrounding region. She was joined by construction industry experts and economists who were equally enthusiastic about what lies ahead for the south west.

We’re very lucky to have one of the most popular horse racing events on our doorstep, so I will be taking some of our clients to Cheltenham Races in March on Gold Cup Day, which promises to be a memorable occasion.