Around the regions

While the South East continues to lead the regions for projects in the pipeline, Birmingham City Council is top of the local authority league for new starts, Josephine Smit finds.

The north-south divide in property development is all too apparent when you look at the upcoming projects across the regions. The value of those in the South East, South West and London outweighs that of the other nine regions put together.

It is London that is leading the way. The mayoral election in May could generate some uncertainty in the market, as could the chancellor’s decision in the November spending review and autumn statement to impose a three per cent tax premium on buy-to-let and second homes. But it is clear that the big money is in the capital. London has seven projects worth more than £10m in the pipeline. There is only one other £10m-plus project in the pipeline elsewhere in the UK — in Yorkshire and Humberside.

*Values for landscaping projects are based on a conservative guideline figure of one per cent of overall project cost

London councils, unsurprisingly, have the highest-value projects, with only Birmingham City Council and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council breaking their dominance of the top ten. The London borough with the single highest-value project pipeline is Wandsworth, and that is because the area is home to much of the Nine Elms regeneration area, with its linear park, riverside walk and other open spaces.

The capital boasts the highest number of projects in the hotel and leisure, social housing and office/commercial sector, although only hotels and leisure are expected to see an increase in projects in the future. A string of London hotel openings is scheduled for this year, including Nobu Shoreditch, which will boast landmark architecture along with a stylish garden.

While London wins out on value, the South East boasts the highest overall number of projects — both in progress and in the pipeline — although no individual local authority in the region is represented in the listing of top councils.

Unsurprisingly the South East leads on housebuilding, with overall project numbers showing an increase, but there are other significant development schemes on the way. Work is about to
start on the major three-year project to transform 350ha of brownfield land on Kent’s Swanscombe peninsula into a EuroDisney theme park.

Birmingham City Council is the local authority with the highest number of projects in the pipeline. The city has more than one million square feet of office space scheduled for development in the years ahead and projects due for completion in 2016 include real estate firm IM Properties’ 55 Colmore Row office development.

Perhaps surprisingly, Cornwall Council is a close runner-up to England’s second largest city. The South West region as a whole has the highest number of industrial developments, with a significant increase in projects in the pipeline. Across the Severn Estuary in Wales, major regeneration is transforming the centre of Cardiff, alongside major investment to electrify the regional Metro.

Across the regions the bulk of projects are in the £10,000 to £50,000 range. The South East, South West and London will see some reduction in project values over the months ahead. Away from the overheated capital, however, project values will continue rising, with Yorkshire and Humberside, the West Midlands and the East Midlands all set to see increases.

Yorkshire and Humberside has a mixed portfolio of projects in the pipeline. Bradford Metropolitan District Council has given approval for a £150m community of 1,000 homes, retail space, a school, health centre and landscaped open space that will all be developed over a decade. Planning consent has already been granted for a new Aldi food store in New Bolton Woods, a 30ha sustainable urban village.

Outside the city, a £32m solar farm is to be created by Big60Million near the village of Bilton, East Yorkshire. Local residents’ resistance to the proposal will be addressed by enhancing the natural environment with wild flower planting and the addition of 275 trees.

*Values for landsacping projects are based on a conservative guideline figure of one per cent of overall project cost

But it is Scotland that leads in the utilities sector, by tapping into its natural resources. The Scottish Government has set an ambitious target to generate all electricity demand from environmentally friendly sources by 2020, mainly using wind, wave, tidal and hydro technologies.

Scotland has also given the go-ahead to 10 new schools and two health projects, worth around £330m, and has increased its investment in social housing with the aim of delivering around 10,000 new affordable homes per year over the next five years.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland the roads are currently being laid for the Cleantech Hub — a business park for green technologies — on 30 acres of Giant’s Park, Belfast. The hub is the first step towards transforming a 340-acre brownfield area of the north foreshore of Belfast Lough, in what is the largest development in the city. Development will have to take into account the protection of important wildlife and biodiversity habitats. Belfast City Council is currently gauging interest in the hub among occupiers, investors and developers.

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