About Austin Design Partnership

Who are we?

Austin Design Partnership has its origins back in the late 1950’s when Maurice Cowell opened an office in Lyndhurst High Street, trading as Design and Structures Ltd. In 1974 the business, by then known as Cowell and Associates, moved from 65 to 99 High Street.

Bernard Austin, the Senior Architectural Assistant became a partner in 1982, and then sole proprietor following Maurices’s retirement a few years later.

Gavin Bratcher joined the firm in 1988 and Matthew Hammond in 1991, both staying for several years before gaining experience elsewhere.

Bernard continued the practice as Bernard Austin Consultancy Ltd from Princes Crescent, but with the prospect of retirement not far away contacted Matthew and Gavin following which Austin Design Partners was formed in June 2013.

Matthew Hammond, Partner at Austin Design Partnership
Matthew Hammond

Managing Partner

Matthews career started in private architectural practice with the Boella Green Partnership in 1988 initially training as an Architectural Technician before joining Cowell and Associates in 1991.

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In 2007 he left private practice to join Bayview Developments LTD, working as a Design and Construction Manager, then in 2010 forming Lighthouse Design & Development prior to joining the Austin Design Partnership.

With with a natural gift for design and a great deal of technical knowledge, Matthew has attained a wealth of experience in bespoke residential and commercial design and development and has gained a number of prestigious awards including “Your New Homes”, “What House”, “Daily Mail UK Property Awards” together with a “Pinders Healthcare Award” for “Outstanding Achievement in Design”.

He joined Pope Priestley Architects in 1993 for 14 years achieving professional memberships with the ASI, BIAT and CIOB, and latterly becoming an Associate Director of the company.

Gavin Bratcher, Partner at Austin Design Partnership
Gavin Bratcher


Gavin started his career working for Cowell & Associates in September 1988 as an Architectural Technician gaining a wealth of experience under Bernard Austin’s guidance and supervision.

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With over 25 years worth of experience in the Building Construction Industry Gavin has worked on a variety of different projects in the residential and commercial sectors undertaking a wide range of projects predominantly specialising in residential new build, extensions and loft conversions.

Gavin builds an exceptionally good working relationship with Clients and can apply his extensive knowledge to a project from inception through to completion.

He formed his own company in March 1997 trading as Gabra Design Solutions whilst maintaining a close working relationship with Bernard. The business continued successfully over a period of 16 years until joining Austin Design Partnership.

Bernard Austin, Consultant at Austin Design Partnership
Bernard Austin

Following training as an architectural assistant in the late 1960’s, Bernard has had continuous employment in private practice for almost 50 years.

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Bernard’s local knowledge has proved invaluable when preparing and submitting planning applications, particularly in the New Forest National Park, where he has achieved a high success rate of planning approvals.

He was awarded a fellowship and meritorious services certificate in recognition of his commitment to the architecture and surveying institute and is also a member of the RICS and fellow of the CIOB.

His long experience has included design and contract management for a great variety of building projects varying from small domestic extensions through to commercial work and hospital refurbishment.

He also has a wide experience of working on listed buildings and has been present as an expert witness in matters of building dispute.