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As the long, hot (ahem..) days of summer slowly draw to a close, Estates Gazette is thinking ahead to the autumn by shining a spotlight on the East Midlands market. On October 13th, EG will publish the latest news and views from the region. If you would like to get involved and take part in the Focus, please contact the relevant writer below for more information.
Published October 13, 2012
Analysis of the market
Mark Faithfull, freelance writer, 0560 286 0859, Mark.email@example.com
A detailed look at the strength of the market and its prospects.
David Thame, freelance writer, 01544 262 896, firstname.lastname@example.org
Analysis of the sector
David Thame, freelance writer, 01544 262 896
Market Health Check
Please send up to date statistics for the offices, retail and industrial market to Stacey Meadwell, regional editor, 020 7911 1819, Stacey.email@example.com
Please contact the writers directly for more details about their individual features by
Thursday 13th September
Writers deadlines are staggered in the week commencing 17th September
For general information about the Midlands' focus features and the Midlands Property Blog contact Lisa Pilkington, Midlands' editor, Lisa.firstname.lastname@example.org
More mature (ahem) readers of my blog may remember the Jimmy Saville TV ad for British Rail from the early 1980's cheerfully imploring the nation to use the train more at a time when car ownership was rocketing. Well today's government announcement of a multi-billion spending package on rail transport contains some welcome news for the Midlands that will undoubtedly help boost all of the region's property markets.
Top of the list is the £800m of new funding to electrify and improve the Midland Main Line between London, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield. While Birmingham has been in the transport limelight for some time (New Street station redevelopment, HS2), this announcement pushes East Midlands centres to the fore.
On my regular visits to East Midlands' cities I've lost count of the number of times property folk have told me how upgrading the existing rail links would significantly improve the case for attracting inward investors and retaining key occupiers - so I'm expecting there to be many pleased faces out there today. The prospect of new or refurbished trains is also potentially good news for Derby, home of the former British Rail works, now owned by Canadian trainbuilder Bombardier.
Particularly heartening for shed-heads is that Midland Main Line improvements aren't just focused on passengers. They are part of a new plan to create an 'Electric Spine', a rail freight corridor linking the East and West Midlands with the South Coast. And that could well bring benefits for logistics developments.
Of course we're still waiting for the fine print - apart from the electrification itself, what other improvements will be made to speed up journey times, and when will all of this happen?
Improving the trains won't solve fundamental property market issues, but in the middle of a double-dip recession it can surely only be a good thing?
Picture via Flickr.com by by Train Chartering & Private Rail Cars
Tom Watkinson is managing director of Leicester-based developer Raynsway Properties. The private company was founded in 1977 by entrepreneur Charlie Rayns and now owns 60 commercial properties in Leicester with a 98% occupancy rate, including the mixed-use Watermead Business Park. Former lawyer Watkinson shares his view on the Leicester market below.
It might be said of Leicester that it is parochial, piecemeal, disjointed and without focus. Just like the real market place.
What I might say is that in fact it is healthy, a true reflection on the market and as a result Leicester finds itself in an extremely good position following the recession.
Alternative cities have perhaps had far more developer and public sector involvement forcing them away from the market's natural direction.We have seen the public sector dabbling in areas which really they shouldn't in trying to achieve political or idealistic objectives, sometimes without any real democratic basis. On the other hand we might have developers which again try to force up yields and rental, through the so called creation of over supply of grade A space.
There is nothing wrong with either of these but where is the city left when the market collapses? The public sector no longer has the strength or financial resources and a developer is potentially left with an awful lot of un-let property.
I don't believe that Leicester has suffered from either of these influences and as result has a more natural and well positioned market place.
Perhaps the one area that Leicester suffers is a shortage of Grade A Class space availability. But I would suggest that is more of an opportunity than a problem!
Therefore if Leicester was to continue responding directly to the market without any strong developer or public sector interference it should in my humble opinion be well positioned.
What we do have in Leicester is a subtle but very strong entrepreneurial spirit. There are a lot of smaller businesses, Leicester is not dominated by a single industry or employer and therefore can better ride the recession wave.
Picture via Flickr.com courtesy of Minnie Vuong/ Xvolution Media
Those with happy faces include Northampton with its proposals for the 120ha Waterside area and the Leicester and Leicestershire LEP with its EZ plans for the 87.5ha MIRA Technology Park in Hinckley Leicestershire.
Northampton Waterside EZ will include:
• LEP: South East Midlands
• 120ha covering the Northampton Waterside area
• Hopes include the town becoming the home of innovation and high performance engineering, as well as a national centre of excellence for advanced technologies, low carbon technology and sustainable construction.
• Businesses in the EZ will benefit from a whopping £19.9m in tax breaks and reduced business rates,
• Around 390 new businesses will be created, comprising 12,400 new jobs by 2015.
• Over £200m of investment is anticipated from private sector.
Northampton will now start the long journey into transforming huge swathes of the town's riverside into commercial and industrial space. The simplified planning processes being introduced should help, as will further investment in infrastructure to introduce superfast broadband. New businesses relocating to the area will be able to claim business rate discounts of up to £275,000.
To say this week has been difficult would be something of an understatement.
The riots across England have dominated TV and newspaper headlines alike and businesses up and down the country are now counting the cost of the prolonged disturbances.
Estates Gazette has published up to the minute news and reaction on the situation all week and has today launched its Building a Better Britain campaign in conjunction with UK Regeneration.
This significant campaign is influenced by the riots that have blighted our high streets in London and cities across England including: Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Nottingham and Leicester.
EG is committed to marrying the private sector - with its funds and expertise - to the public sector's expertise and assets to safeguard the survival of the nation's High Streets and bring forward targeted urban renewal.
The campaign is about making sure this happens. Working with UK Regeneration, we'll be recruiting a team of experts to help draw up targeted plans, hopefully with your help either directly or indirectly over the coming weeks. The ultimate aim is to draw up a blueprint for building a better Britain that will be submitted to government.
We believe the industry is ready to step up. Share your ideas, get involved and help use this week's events as a catalyst for much-needed change.
Please email EG editor email@example.com if you would like to learn more about the campaign.
Click here to read Damian Wild's comments on the need to respond radically in the aftermath of the riots http://bit.ly/r4COYe
Picture courtesy of George Rex via Flickr.com
Yesterday's Budget is, in the main, being hailed as a good one for the property industry. The announcement that three of the 21 new Enterprise Zones will be in the Midlands was a hot topic for debate as was the relaxation of the planning regime and the decision to drop REIT conversion charges.
Here are the views of some of the region's key commentators. Do you agree? Join the debate and post your comments below.
Martin Guest, managing director, CBRE Birmingham:
"It was interesting to see the important role that government proposes to give Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in formulating the Enterprise Zones, particularly at a time when many LEPs are trying to get to grips with their purpose and governance structure."
Martyn Cartwright, director, Barberry Developments:
"Whilst the detail regarding the policy tools to be made available is still awaited, business rates have been a major deterrent to speculative development over the past few years particularly in the manufacturing sector."
Ashley Hudson, Knight Frank Birmingham:
"Mr Osborne revealed that he now expects the economy to grow at a slower rate than previously expected this year, with the Office for Budgetary Responsibility cutting its growth forecast from 2.1% to 1.7%, however he has recognised that growth is fuelled outside of London and the West Midlands looks set to benefit most specifically from the introduction of a number of new Enterprise Zones."
Gary Cardin, head, Drivers Jonas Deloitte Birmingham:
"The headline news that the default answer to development is "Yes" will help give comfort to developers and funders but how this statement is to be squared in the localism agenda remains uncertain."
Rob Maxey, HEB Nottingham:
"Legislation regarding enterprise zones should be properly structured so that the end result is development which is actually beneficial in terms of employment creation and boosting the area's economy."
Deborah Walsh, head of public policy and communications, RICS West Midlands:
"Birmingham & Solihull and the Black Country are included among the first enterprise zones announced and we hope this will prove beneficial. However, it is not clear how effective new enterprise zones will be in stimulating long term sustainable development beyond an initial boost
Louise Brooke-Smith, managing director, Brooke-Smith Planning Birmingham:
"We are pleased that Mr Osborne has specifically highlighted planning issues as a way to support the construction and development sectors. The proposals to allow the change of use of offices to provide new residential units seem positive in the first instance."
Craig Straw, Innes England, Nottingham:
"It's good news that both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire are amongst the 21 areas that have now been identified for Enterprise Zones in the future, although we will obviously have to wait to hear about the finer detail of what these areas will have to offer. I think it is critical to learn lessons from the previously introduced zones."
Mark Radford, director of rating, Jones Lang LaSalle Birmingham:
"We welcome this move to help small businesses [with rates relief] indeed this is a scheme which has worked very well. It is disappointing however that the Chancellor hasn't seized the opportunity to reduce the empty rate burden for owners of larger properties."
David Meecham, partner, Pinsent Mason, Birmingham:
"The incentives [announced in the Budget] - whether tax breaks or less red tape - may attract businesses and jobs to the area but these are often simply displaced from surrounding areas or are temporary, disappearing when the reliefs and incentives expire. Another concern is whether these will have a distorting effect on the proper operation of the market."
Christine Braddock, president, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce:
"With the majority of Birmingham's businesses relying on transportation in some way and with inflation currently standing at 4.4%, it was integral that next week's fuel duty rise was postponed to alleviate pressure."
Pic courtesy of altogetherfool via Flickr.com
Well here we all are back in Blighty after last week's MIPIM whirlwind. For those in the Midlands who didn't attend (and there were many who didn't), here's a quick round-up...
Overall, MIPIM didn't disappoint. Yes the Croisette was quieter than usual but the Palais (aka the bunker) was heaving. It was a very focussed event with much more emphasis on smaller, private dinners rather than big flashy parties, and as a networking opportunity it remains unparalleled.
When it came to announcements London tended to hog the headlines and the modest number from the Midlands had mainly been trailed in the media before MIPIM. So it was particularly baffling that one of the biggest genuine first glimpses was left almost until the end of the show. Impressive CGIs of the new John Lewis about to be built as part Birmingham's redeveloped New Street station (pictured right) were unveiled on Thursday night, after the property press had gone to print and many delegates were already packing their bags for home. There will undoubtedly be questions this week about whether Birmingham city council and Network Rail got the timing wrong and missed out on some much-deserved attention.