Award-winning business, Cocksedge Building Contractors, is tackling the housing crisis head on 

Cocksedge Building Contractors Limited (Cocksedge) was started in 1938 by Fredrick Cocksedge and, following his death, his two sons, Robert and Edward (Ted) continued the business. Celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, the company’s crowning glory has been receiving the Stirling Award 2022 for its involvement in Magdalene College’s new library building.

The Managing Director, Steve Nugent, shares his thoughts on the company’s success, as well as how Cocksedge has continued to deliver exceptional results across all its projects. “The work on Magdalene College was a credit to everyone at the company and to the construction team’s hard work and persistence,” Steve says. This was a replacement building for the existing Pepps Library building on college grounds. The new library was designed to replicate the existing Library building, which is a staggering 350 years old. The design incorporated construction techniques to ensure it will last for the same period as the existing one. “It also incorporated intricate design details to the highest level which made the building stand out and achieve its status as the best building in the UK for 2022.”

Full-scale services
Steve began work at Cocksedge as a trainee quantity surveyor in 1994 and, once qualified, he progressed to become a contracts manager within the business. “In 2005, I was involved in a management buyout from Ted Cocksedge, and at that point became the construction director. In 2015, following the retirement of my business partner at the time, I became the Managing Director and majority shareholder of Cocksedge Building Contractors Limited,” he explains, adding that next year will be his 30th year of working for the business.

Cocksedge currently employs approximately 120 people directly, and works extremely closely with its supply chain, which has been nurtured over 85 years of trading. “We have five separate departments within the business. Our major projects division carries out individual projects that range from £5 million to £40 million.”

To fulfil this wide sweep of work, the company offers full scale services through its ABS Electrical and ABS Mechanical divisions, each of which carries out comprehensive electrical and mechanical installations for Cocksedge itself, and several other building contractors. “ABS Joinery works on bespoke timber joinery items for individual clients throughout the construction industry. Likewise, we also have ABS Facilities that carries out a range of planned and reactionary maintenance projects.”

Impressive projects
Speaking of projects, Steve notes the business is currently working on two significant ones: Pembroke College and St Johns College. “Regarding the former, this is a £39 million contract in two phases for the demolition of existing buildings, and provision of a substation and associated
site works.

“The new court will provide a significant increase in student accommodation, arranged around a communal garden that continues the Pembroke tradition of beautifully landscaped courts. The residential brief for Dolby Court calls for approximately 100 new rooms to accommodate principally graduate students, with supporting facilities including fully equipped kitchens, laundry areas and storage. We also included related S278 works to form a new pedestrian crossing across Trumpington Street,” shares Steve.

St Johns College, on the other hand, is a £31 million contract with St Johns College to provide 245 new build student bedrooms within 39 terraces to houses to Passivhaus standards including all landscaping. “The form of construction is cross laminated timber with a brick and stone façade that matches the arts and crafts style, while complementing the surrounding properties within northwest Cambridge.”

Moving forward, Steve acknowledges that Cocksedge is exploring how to develop its own housing for open market sales and producing its own product for the market. “This will allow our residential sector of the business to grow organically, and we anticipate this growing to the same size as our major projects department in the next five years. We eventually want to get to a position of delivering approximately 250 dwellings a year,” he shares.

Improving practices
Furthermore, he takes a moment to stress that among the company’s business plans, it is also on a mission to strengthen its ESG goals. “We believe in creating working practices and an environment that is fully sustainable and as carbon free as possible. We have recently changed our company car fleet to fully electric and the company holds full ISO 9001/14001/45001 accreditations, which are audited annually to ensure we fully comply and continue to improve on these practices.”

The future looks promising for Cocksedge. “In 2024,” Steve concludes, “we will be actively securing sites to progress our residential developments and working towards achieving our target. We will also be securing our current targeted projects that are programmed for the Cambridge colleges. Fulfilling these prestigious projects and meeting these goals will naturally increase our turnover to an estimated
£100 million.”