Charcon, the commercial hard landscaping division of Aggregate Industries, is proud to sponsor this year’s prestigious Landscape Institute Awards.

The annual awards, which take place in November, are designed to recognise examples of outstanding work by the landscape profession.

Charcon is sponsoring the Urban Design and Masterplanning category, which celebrates excellence in area based regeneration projects led by landscape architects.

Mark Barter, Sales Director at Charcon, comments: “As a major manufacturer and supplier of commercial hard landscaping materials, we are delighted to be supporting the Landscape Institute. The awards recognise the excellent work of landscape professionals at the very top of their game, especially those demonstrating a high level of commitment to sustainability.

“The calibre of entries is always incredibly high and we look forward to celebrating in the winner’s success on the night.”

Entrants in the Urban Design and Masterplanning category must demonstrate either one completed phase of a project or a strategy, development framework or master plan that is working towards or has achieved a planning status.

The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday 24th November. To find out more, visit

For further information about Charcon range of products, visit or call 01335 372 222.

Shepherd hut makers Blackdown Shepherd Huts have seen a recent rise in the sale of their luxury garden huts specifically for women, dubbing them “she-sheds.”

Whilst the traditional huts are purchased for a range of purposes from extra family room space and glamping businesses, to saunas and garden offices, Blackdown’s shepherd hut retreats are fast becoming popular as the female version of the “man cave.”

Will Vickery, who runs the Somerset-based company, says “At the moment pretty much all our huts are being built for women. They’re being created for them to use as craft rooms, sewing rooms, reading rooms, art studios, that type of thing.  A lot of men are buying our self-build huts to construct them for their wives and partners as gifts.

“We sold 21 huts as she-sheds last year and the enquiries on this basis are coming in every week. It seems to be a trend and we’re happy to be making huts that fulfil all type of luxury retreat requirements. One gentleman divulged that, whilst his wife said her hut would be a mediation room, he thought it might be used more as a wine or gin den because she asked for a fridge to be put in. We can obviously create huts to all types of specifications, and we don’t judge!”

Jo Simpson, from Sherborne in Dorset, bought a Blackdown Heritage Hut and was instantly smitten. She says “My sisters talked me into getting a hut, telling me that everyone should have a ‘room of one’s own’, particularly if there is a novel trapped inside your brain and a newly retired husband looming in every corner of the marital home. So I went to Blackdown, we created my hut (whom I call Jabba) and I fell in love.”

“My she-shed sits in place under the ash tree in our garden. She is curtained, rugged and kitted out with a chair and a sheepskin and scatter cushions. I use my hut to help me on my literary venture and when I need inspiration I toddle down across the garden, light the stove and watch as the flames warm up my life and give me room to breathe.”

“I am sure at some point my she-shed will assume another guise – grandchildren’s playhouse, perhaps, or a spare room for visitors. But right now my shepherd’s but is my room of my own, and when you visit it’s my retreat, my rules!”

Inspired by the traditional shepherd’s huts of yesteryear, Blackdown Shepherd Huts create ultimate dream huts which are built to last. Customers can choose oak-clad or metal-clad exteriors and can include a bathroom and a kitchen, or just simply a log-burner.

Will concludes “I have always been captivated by the heritage of shepherd huts, but also intrigued by the opportunity that the flexibility of the space presented. It seems both genders are jumping on the shepherd hut trend, and it’s great to see so much passion for something that is so quintessentially British and traditional, but which allows us to transform it for the modern day.”

Blackdown Shepherd Huts was established in 2011 and is based in Ilminster, Somerset. Self-build huts start at £3,150 inc. VAT and hand-crafted bespoke huts start from £18,650 inc. VAT.

The first new building to open in Northampton’s flagship Waterside Enterprise Zone is the £8.5m University of Northampton Innovation Centre, seen as a hub for organisations that deliver social impact. This striking six floor cubic building leaves the onlooker in no doubt that Northampton’s new development means business.

Locally based Powdertech Corby Ltd powder coated the solar shading system on the exterior of the building, a contract worth £11K.

Richard Besant, Powdertech Corby Sales Director commented “We coated over 1800 individual sections comprising fins, end plates and brackets, in a premium quality Valspar architectural powder, RAL 9010 white matt. When we viewed the completed building at the end of the job, we could appreciate the fabulous visual effect these solar shades create, in addition to being part of a highly functional design.”

Vertical solar shading fins on the north, east and west side of the building will shade the windows from summer sun and moderate solar gain. They improve the insulation value of glass in the winter by acting as a windbreak. On the south side of the building, horizontal solar shading fins, across the windows, will reduce glare and solar heat gain in the summer but also allow low winter sunlight to shine through in the colder darker months.

Architectural powder coatings are especially suited for use on solar shading systems. The powders have excellent gloss retention, resistance to corrosion and UV light and will last for up to 40 years without significant colour change.

The Waterside Enterprise Zone is part of the Northampton Alive regeneration scheme and incorporates a new £330m campus for the city’s University alongside global brands and thriving small businesses.

For further information on Powdertech (Corby) Ltd and the benefits of powder coating please call 01536 400890,visit or email