Sharp fall in new development starts in Birmingham

The number of new property projects starting on site in Birmingham during 2019 more than halved compared with the previous year, according to a new report published today.

The annual ‘Crane Survey’, published by Deloitte Real Estate, said there were just 11 new starts last year, compared with 23 in 2018, while the number of ongoing projects increased from 38 in 2018 to 41.

The annual report analyses the level of activity across the city, both new build and refurbishment, across residential, office, student housing, hotel, retail, leisure and education properties.

Construction work started on seven new residential projects last year, including Jewellery Quarter sites Lionel House and Derwent House, while 4 St Philip’s Place and Six Brindleyplace were among four new office schemes to commence.

Birmingham compared less favourably with other cities featured in the annual report with Belfast and Leeds both registering 12 new starts and 22 in Manchester.

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A new record was set for the volume of office space delivered to the Birmingham market as it hit 775,000 sq ft across a mix of new build and refurbished office space.

This surpasses the previous Birmingham Crane Survey record set in 2017 by more than 250,000 sq ft and, for the fourth consecutive year, office development surpasses one million sq ft under construction.

The 41 projects currently on site in Birmingham include landmark schemes such as Two Chamberlain Square and One Centenary Way at Paradise, 3 Arena Central and Three Snowhill.

The mix by sector is – residential (26), office (seven), student accommodation and hotel (both three) and education (two).

Edwin Bray, partner at Deloitte Real Estate and the survey’s author, said: “Although the drop in new schemes from 23 to 11 suggests construction and confidence in the city is falling, activity levels remain high and our most recent survey underlines there is a marked increase in sentiment and optimism linked largely to more political certainty around the year ahead.

“Both residential and office schemes continue to perform well as both domestic and foreign investors see Birmingham as the UK city of choice.

“Still the number one city outside of London and the South East for attracting foreign direct investment, developers are responding to the need for city centre living and grade A office space with a mix of major refurbishments and new build schemes.

“The growing demand for flexible office space is still attracting domestic and international investors.

“2019 has also seen the demand for space equally matched between the private and public sector.”

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Assessing the residential market, Mr Bray added: “Residential development continues to dominate, delivering over 1,000 units in 2019, well above the ten-year average of 465.

“Developers are still vying for key strategic sites as the demand for city living increases, which was evident at the turn of the year with the announcement that 100 Broad Street will go ahead and deliver over 500 luxury apartments in addition to workshop and leisure facilities.

“We’re seeing a trend for flexible living space to accommodate the city’s professionals and families, and the Crane Survey shows a strong pipeline of new developments on the horizon, with 22 already signposted to start in the near future.

“The Jewellery Quarter and Westside remain attractive to developers and occupiers although we have seen a tilt towards high-end luxury apartments which may cause an oversupply in the sector.

“2020 has the potential to be a record-breaking year for real estate development…we just need to carry on building to meet demand.”

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