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Sector Focus


Gensler moves to new home


The Birmingham branch of global architecture and design firm Gensler has settled into new offices at No. 4 St Philip’s Place. Gensler Birmingham made


the move after outgrowing their previous home at the Custard Factory in Digbeth, where the business has been located for the past six years. The firm has grown by 30


per cent in the last year alone. The new office, Gensler Birmingham says, will showcase its latest workplace research and celebrate the firm’s culture and the evolution of its growth. Tariq Shaikh, managing


director at Gensler, said: “We’re excited about our move to the St Philip’s Place and the opportunity to further grow our network and partner with clients from within the Colmore Business District. “Relocating at this time


offers us an ideal opportunity to determine the next generation of working environment, tailored around the needs of our design teams and informed by our research and learnings over the last year. “Our new home will provide


a flexible range of work settings, perfectly suited to our hybrid workforce, allowing us to create together and consistently deliver industry leading design.”


Property


String of new developments to pick up slow office market


Birmingham’s office market had a sluggish and quiet first quarter of the year, according to real estate adviser Avison Young’s latest ‘Big Nine’ office market update. Take-up of office space


amounted to just 49,837 sq ft in the city centre and 20,326 sq ft out-of-town, a staggering 73 per cent below the ten-year average. The largest city centre deal was


16,499 sq ft of space secured by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) at B1 Summerhill Road, building on an initial 49,000 sq ft deal in 2020.


‘The flight to quality over size is a clear and accelerating trend’


The out-of-town market was led


by recruitment firm Adecco’s 9,114 sq ft letting at T3, Trinity Park, Solihull. According to the report, 19 of Birmingham’s deals in the first quarter were for under 5,000 sq ft of space, including two 4,000 sq ft lettings, to law firm Clarke Willmott at 9 Colmore Row and Sandwell College at 13 Bennetts Hill. Despite subdued demand, Avison


Young has said that a string of developments under construction were likely to make a dent on the city’s office market activity. Key schemes under construction


include Tristan’s 228,000 sq ft at 103 Colmore Row; 40,000 sq ft at


Slow start: Charles Toogood


STEAMhouse by Birmingham City University; 280,000 sq ft at 1 Centenary Way, Paradise and CBREGi’s major refurbishment of 213,000 sq ft of space at 8/10 Brindleyplace. Charles Toogood, principal and managing director, national offices team at Avison Young, is confident that as Covid restrictions continue to ease, activity is likely to increase later in the year. He said: “A combination of


lockdown and the traditionally slow start to the year has not surprisingly resulted in well below average take-up activity for the Big Nine office markets during Q1, particularly in Birmingham. “However, sentiment is


improving noticeably, enquiries are increasing and there is enough


recent activity in both the occupier and investment markets for us to be confident that as restrictions ease, activity will increase throughout the year. “In both the city and out-of-town


markets in Birmingham, the flight to quality over size is a clear and accelerating trend, seen in the volume of smaller deals coming through, with occupiers looking for less but better-quality space. “However, there is limited stock


and some buyers are understandably cautious about the quality of covenants and length of leases. With this in mind, Birmingham’s strong pipeline will provide much needed quality supply that will be in demand as 2021 and 2022 unfold.”


Blythe Valley Park neighbourhood hub complete


A £7.5m neighbourhood hub developed at Blythe Valley Park (BVP) has been completed. Situated adjacent to BVP’s Virgin Active Gym,


the new centre includes a convenience shop and space for a retail or food outlet, with the potential for an outdoor seating area and 48 modern apartments, 36 of which will be rented and retained by IM Properties, which owns the park. Renewable green technology provides power


to communal areas at the hub, and residents can access an electric pool car for short journeys, electric car charging points and cycle storage for up to 40 bikes at the centre. The neighbourhood hub is part of a residential


development being constructed at the park, which is home to business giants such as Arup and Gymshark. More than 750 new homes are currently being


New neighbourhood: Richard Knight and Tom Holdcroft, of IM Properties, at the £7.5m centre


66 CHAMBERLINK June 2021


built at BVP, with Bloor Homes and Crest Nicholson on site constructing homes, and affordable housing being built by Bromford Homes. An 80-bed care facility is also currently under construction by Macc Care Group. Richard Knight, technical director at IM


Properties, said that as the residential community at the park expands, the firm has plans to open more public spaces. “We’ve invested significantly at BVP to create


high quality spaces which underpin our ambition to create one of the first truly mixed-use schemes in the Midlands which seamlessly blends residential and commercial uses. “With a site wide focus on wellbeing, we’ve


made the most of the 122 acres of surrounding parkland and incorporated green open spaces and high-quality working and living environments which promote a good work life balance and healthy, happy lifestyles. “As the residential community grows, we’re


phasing the implementation of new public open spaces and play areas to encourage a flow of movement across the entire scheme, connecting up cycle routes and walkways, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of the wide-ranging assets. “The new neighbourhood centre helps to


connect the commercial and residential phases and add to the buzz of community life at the heart of the scheme, with people living, working and enjoying leisure time alongside.”


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