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News: Birmingham in 'cohesion' warning

Tue, 25 Sep 07

Birmingham needs to become a more for ‘cohesive city’ when it comes to residential property planning, according to Knight Frank...

The findings have issued a stark warning to city centre developers that new apartment developments which possess no unique selling features are facing an increasingly tough market; and with an estimated 8,000 apartments built in the city centre and up to 10,000 more with or awaiting planning consent, this won’t be welcome news for many.

David Fenton, head of residential development for Knight Frank’s central region, said: “Our research shows that the emphasis will increasingly be on creating communities and focusing on creating the right mix of homes and uses which will appeal to a wider market.

“Standalone apartment schemes where the prominent purchasers are buy to let investors simply cannot supply all of the city’s needs. Indeed, we would go as far as to say that we have come to a stage where only apartment schemes with a true USP such as iconic architecture or developed as part of a mixed use scheme can expect to reach target values in the current market.

A broader mix of housing needed

Mr Fenton continued: “A broader mix of housing must now top the city’s development agenda with sustainability the buzz word of the moment. For the city’s housing market to survive it is vital that developers seriously consider where the demand is coming from and for them to design the correct mix and style of homes to adhere to this.

“Developers need to consider the nature of the product they are building and whether there is truly the market to support it within the city core.

“Even in light of fears of a downturn in the market, as long as developers can achieve the right mix of property and start introducing the right product to the city, there is no reason why Birmingham city and its suburbs cannot continue to grow with the success it has been associated with in recent years.

“Going forwards it is the schemes in city fringe locations such as Icknield Port Loop by Edgbaston reservoir and inner urban areas such as Park Central on Bath Row that present a real opportunity to pioneer sustainable mixed use developments with the delivery of large scale family housing, at the same time as promoting long term sustainability.”

High profile investment

Mark Swallow, head of Knight Frank’s Birmingham office, said: “Birmingham is now in a position where it can respond to larger enquiries and have a serious offering for further government relocations, major blue chip companies and headquarters.

“More than 1.1m sq ft of accommodation is under construction in six separate schemes and this will in turn lead to job creation and population growth. In this position we are well placed to attract more high profile inward investment opportunities and drive growth across all sectors.”

Clive Dutton, Director of Planning and Regeneration of Birmingham City Council, agreed: “As a dynamic, globally relevant city, Birmingham competes successfully with the major capitals across the world. It is vital that our residential offer follows suit – evolving to provide innovative sustainable product, we intend to drive this forward at Birmingham City Council over the coming months.

“This report is a perfect riposte to this week’s media coverage on the city’s ranking in the UK capital of business. Today is about objective recognition that we are creating conditions for growth for the development industry and responding by enriching the built product that helps business thrive.

“The facts speak for themselves – the stream of unprecedented projects in the city totals £14 bn and rising – watch this space for announcements that will take your breath away both here and abroad.”

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