Will Birmingham Present The Next Big Opportunity

Phil Harrison, managing director of Wates Construction, discusses whether Birmingham could be the next construction boom town.

In a report commissioned by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and PwC, Birmingham was named the UK’s most investible city, as well as ranking sixth best in Europe.

The city has received a steady stream of positive press for its investment potential, which is supported by statistics. According to UK Trade, 18,337 new businesses registered in Birmingham in 2014 alone, and we’re seeing some real signs that the opportunity for commercial property development in Birmingham has reached a new peak.

The city has undergone a massive transformation in the last decade, and there is no sign of it slowing down. Birmingham has seen £2.1 billion in commercial and retail investment over the last five years, and there are a slew of flagship projects in the works, including the £550 million Gateway Plus Birmingham New Street redevelopment, the new speculative office at One Arena Central, HS2’s Snow Hill HQ, and, of course, the HS2 terminal at Curzon Street, which will no doubt bring further regeneration to the city’s east.

In terms of commercial development, demand for Grade A office space is increasing, particularly among domestic and international businesses seeking a base outside of the London bubble. Consider Snow Hill and Bruntwood’s recent application for a £14 million speculative development at Two Cornwall Street, both of which demonstrate the increase in office take-up rates in Birmingham, and we can only hope that inward investment will continue to follow.

Birmingham’s real opportunity, however, is not as a stand-alone property investment dynamo. Yes, the city is thriving, and with foreign investment currently accounting for 30% of Birmingham’s property market, international funding will continue to flow our way. However, with massive projects such as the Manufacturing Technology Centre’s Research and Development campus at Ansty Park in Coventry, the buzz isn’t limited to Birmingham.

Concentrating solely on the city limits would be somewhat shortsighted and would limit the opportunities that the West Midlands as a whole represents. As a result, the property and construction industries must look to ‘Greater Birmingham’ for its abundance of opportunity and investment potential.

Consider the Black Country Enterprise Zone, just one item on the Greater Birmingham agenda at MIPIM, and we can see that it’s not just office space that’s on the rise. With investments totaling £1.5 billion from companies such as Jaguar Land Rover in the newly announced Black Country Enterprise Zone, evidence suggests that manufacturing and engineering are also keeping the West Midlands and Greater Birmingham at the forefront. The impact of Sir Albert Bore’s combined authority agenda is hotly debated, but many argue that it is the real key to unlocking the West Midlands’ investment potential.

We also can’t ignore the impact that connectivity in the West Midlands will have on the region’s development markets. There have been some significant advances in infrastructure, which is a priority for Midlands Connect. To name a few, the forthcoming £50 billion HS2 and last year’s runway extension at Birmingham Airport will benefit the region’s economy and, more importantly, increase employment.

Spray Foam Insulation

The picture for Birmingham is unquestionably positive, and collaborative action between the public and private sectors is now elevating this to a higher regional level, driving forward an investment agenda for the West Midlands region as a whole, which is exactly the direction we should be taking. As the Built Environment Hub advocates and as the vision for the Construction 2025 Strategy, the public and private sectors must continue to collaborate to realise the West Midlands vision that so many have pioneered.

Phil Harrison serves on the Built Environment Hub’s board of directors. Visit www.builtenvironmenthub.org for more information on membership.

Related Posts

None found

Last Updated on December 29, 2021


Author: Indra Gupta

Indra is an in-house writer with a love of Newcastle United and all things sustainable.

Scroll to Top