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Edgbaston, Your Time Has Come As Investors Double Down On Birmingham's Big Hope

More than £400M in one week: that is the scale of the investor and developer interest in Edgbaston.

After a period in the doldrums, the spacious Birmingham suburb is back in investors' cross-hairs. Could it be about to make a mighty comeback?

New Garden Square

It has been quite a week for Edgbaston. Two significant schemes — one residential, the other office — promise to re-shape the image of the historic district on the fringe of Birmingham’s central core.

Once the focus of the smartest and largest office developments, Edgbaston has recently been eclipsed by renewed developer and investor interest in the city centre. Simultaneously its older 1960s and 1970s office blocks have largely failed to inspire reuse.

Now that seems to be changing.

U+I and 302-year-old local landowner Calthopre Estates have won planning permission for the £330M New Garden Square development.

The project involves 500K SF of new office space along with 400 apartments and ancillary retail. The scheme design was created by Glenn Howells Architects, whilst CBRE advised.

On 14 March, Birmingham City Council gave consent following an application for a 165K SF eight-storey building, forming the first phase of office development.

To make way for the development and help create the new public-realm garden square, the mid-1970’s-built Edgbaston House was demolished and works were completed in late 2018.

The 9.5-acre site on the Hagley Road (A456) will be served by a new Metro stop.

“Although now very tired and suffering serious obsolescence, this site was one of the early important concentrated office conurbations on this side of the city," Calthorpe Estates Director of Development Ralph Minott said. "As such, its regeneration as a transformational scheme for the future, aligned with the other major investments announced such as the metro extension to Five Ways, will be significant for the city’s business development plan and to Edgbaston’s commercial centre for future generations."

Patrizia's Edgbaston BTR scheme

There is also action in the residential sector.

Patrizia, the Germany-based real estate investor, has won permission for an £85M build-to-rent-led redevelopment next to Edgbaston cricket ground, as the Birmingham BTR boom gathers pace.

The move comes 18 months after Patrizia bought into the Birmingham site. They have already developed the £50M Forum BTR development, which is now close to full occupancy.

Patrizia’s BTR platform includes assets in London and Southampton as well as the Birmingham schemes.

The 8.4-acre site will see a tower up to 17 storeys built along with additional car parking for the cricket ground and a gym. There will also be 20K SF of retail and leisure.

The development replaces an earlier scheme which included 150K SF of offices and a hotel.

A viability appraisal means a £1M contribution to the council, of which £825K goes to pay for off-site affordable housing. The scheme itself includes no affordable housing.

The site is next to the Birmingham Life Sciences Park, currently the subject of a search to find a development partner for one of the Midlands’ most-favoured tech development sites.

Birmingham Tram

Avison Young National Head of Offices Charles Toogood is an advisor on the Calthorpe/U+I development, and a longtime observer of Edgbaston’s ups and downs.

“The area went into a 20-year decline after it lost occupiers to the out-of-town business parks, but thanks to Calthorpe Estate’s decision to improve amenities, and because some older office stock has come off the market, the last five years have seen the path laid for improvement," Toogood said.

“We’ll be quoting high £20/SF for rents on the new office development, but that is still a discount on prime city space. Today the best Edgabaston rent, on the best refurbished 1970s floorspace, is probably £18-19/SF. So we’re going to push the top of the market.

“The New Garden Square development is the largest office scheme in the area, but we will see more because developments like Pebble Mill have been so successful. Watch sites like the Chamber of Commerce on Harborne Road, which has previously had consent for a 100K SF office scheme, and the former HSBC office on Calthorpe Road which is about 70K SF,” Toogood said. “The appeal is good new floorspace at a discount to the city centre.”

That appeal will be enhanced by the new Metro extension to Hagley Road, which will close up the physical gap between the city centre and Edgbaston.

“It will be a five-minute journey, a real game-changer,” Toogood said.

Edgbaston’s days as a '70s relic are over. Welcome to the future.