At the beginning of August, Patrizia UK exchanged on four acres of land beside Warwickshire County Cricket Club’s Edgbaston Stadium. The UK arm of the German-based residential giant plans to build 375 build-to-rent (BTR) homes with a gross development value of around £85m.
A masterplan is already in place for the two plots, which will provide ground-level retail units and residents’ parking as well as the new homes for rent, and a new road for access purposes. A new planning application will be required but the principle of development has long been agreed so work could begin on site as early as 2018.
The deal marks the culmination of a decade-long redevelopment programme for the cricket club, according to Savills’ development director Barry Allen who advised the cricket club and its partner, the Homes and Communities Agency. A large part of the Edgbaston ground has been redeveloped, increasing the seating capacity, while events space has been added to generate revenue outside the cricket season.
“The project began in the depths of the recession,” recalls Allen. “It was a difficult project to pull off.”
The club was eyeing expansion and had already began buying up houses fronting Pershore Road to make way for it. To make the scheme viable, Advantage West Midlands, the former regional development agency, had to step in to complete the site acquisition while the city council provided loan finance.
The club’s persistence was rewarded this year when Edgbaston hosted England’s first-ever day-night test match against the West Indies, and it now looks likely to become one of the host grounds when the new city-based T20 tournament is launched, which will help to secure the club’s financial future.
Developing housing alongside a major sporting venue is not without its challenges, however. Allen says “we’ll have to design out the impact of the crowds” but he believes that cricket grounds are better neighbours for residential development than football stadiums or those of some other sports.
Eleanor Deeley, Cushman & Wakefield’s head of residential in Birmingham, says it’s a “fantastic location” in one of the highest-value parts of Birmingham.
Edgbaston, and particularly Pershore Road, is best known for gated communities developed on a build-to-sell basis, so the fact that Patrizia is planning a BTR scheme is significant.
“We’ve never seen so much interest in the BTR sector,” says Deeley, citing Cushman & Wakefield’s latest research that shows Birmingham has more than 40 schemes of 70 units and upwards. In all, she believes the city’s BTR pipeline could now contain more than 6,000 units.
“The change in city centre living has been tremendous,” says Deeley. She believes the biggest driver has been the desire among students at the city’s multiple universities to stay on after graduation. “Birmingham is one of the top two cities for student retention, and the arrival of companies like HSBC means there are now more high-quality jobs for graduates.
“We’re at a good point for Birmingham.”