One of the biggest investments in city living the West Midlands has ever seen will create more than 1,000 homes in Birmingham City Centre. For a purchase price of £125million, Seven Capital, a property investment company, has bought the St George’s Urban Village scheme in the Jewellery Quarter, the Point North building at the Waterfront in Brierley Hill and One Hagley Road at Five Ways in Edgbaston.
As many of the UK’s city centres have multiple properties with commercial occupation issues, changing them into residential buildings and homes is an interesting idea. Previously, planning permission was needed to convert office towers and commercial buildings into residential homes. However, this has now ended under new government rules that aim to give old buildings new leases of life.
Construction work is set to start within weeks and the firm plans to develop a total of 823,000 sq. ft. of apartments within two years; this is equivalent to 10 football pitches of land. The scheme will see 600 construction jobs created over two years.
Phil Carlin, managing director of Seven Capital, said “with HS2 and Jaguar Land Rover driving the region’s economy, there were plans afoot for thousands more homes in the city centre. I believe we are at the right point in the curve. The time is right to make a major investment in the property market and Birmingham itself.
Seven has already pre-sold 200 of the 271 units, after attracting investment interest from across the globe, with the remainder going on the market.
The city council has committed itself to delivering 5000 new homes over the next twenty years, as part of their ‘Growth Agenda’. The council is heavily involved in identifying where that growth should take place to ensure that sufficient infrastructure and business and employment opportunities are available to sustain the cities increasing population.
Seven Capital is also behind the proposed Harrison Drape Building and ongoing Park Regis Hotel developments in Birmingham, as it has wider plans to develop 5,000 homes in the region within five years.
The company secured planning consent in 56 days for One Hagley Road as they were helped bye the permitted development rights introduced by government in May 2013 to speed up planning.
Another example of a city making a positive out of its city centre issues is Sheffield. Telephone overlooking Charter Square in Sheffield, has a £35million plan to convert the empty office block into 354 studio apartments. Currently it is one of Sheffield City Centre’s tallest buildings and it is also set to get taller. This is because an extra storey is due to be added to the 15-storey building. A unit has been designed to accommodate 14 flats to replace the telecommunications equipment on the roof.
All the apartments will be self-contained, fully furnished and serviced, with communal facilities such as a gym, games room and laundry room, meeting what is perceived to be a demand for top quality accommodation in the city centre.
In addition to these city redevelopments there is also planned redevelopment for the BBC Television Centre in West London. Developers Stanhope have said it aims to start the redevelopment, which has outline planning for about 950 homes, offices, shops and restaurants, in April next year.
The developer is currently proposing to demolish two of the former BBC stage buildings to make way for a new ten-storey office building, which will be crowned by a Soho House private members’ club with 47 bedrooms, a roof terrace, swimming pool and restaurants. Stanhope will also change the use of a proposed nine-storey building on the site from residential to commercial.
David Camp, chief executive of Stanhope, said: “Since we received planning permission near the last quarter of last year we have been looking in more detail at how we can realise our vision for Television Centre as a vibrant heart to the wider White City district of London.”
How do you believe building more houses in city centres will benefit both the local and the national economy?