It may have been some time since EDG Property’s Managing Director Neil Edginton graduated, but his achievements since have not gone unnoticed by Birmingham City University who has selected Neil as Alumni of the Year 2012 in the field of Enterprise and Innovation.

Each year, Birmingham City University recognises just five alumni who have made a significant contribution to the local, national or international community in the course of their career. Neil has been announced as Alumni of the Year 2012 in recognition of his achievements in property development and contribution to the physical and economic landscape of Birmingham.

Neil, who graduated from Birmingham City University with a BSc Hons Environmental Planning and later MSc Project Management said, “I have been fortunate to have played an integral role in shaping Birmingham’s landscape over the last decade with involvement in Fort Dunlop, The Mailbox, The Cube and now The School Yard in Harborne and I am delighted to have been nominated by the University. The city will continue to evolve and I look forward to continuing to help its evolution ”

A presentation will be made to Neil at an awards ceremony to be held at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall next February, in the presence of the University’s Chancellor, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor John Lines and those graduating from the Faculty of Technology, Engineering and the Environment.

Many will already be aware that planning consent has been granted at EDG Property’s new development The School Yard in Harborne and with Listed building consent also granted, the contractor selection process is now underway.

Enabling works will start on site in the next 4 weeks which will prepare the site ready for the construction team to commence their works.

Contracts have been signed with new tenant Metro, who is soon to be spoiling us with continental tapas cuisine, now busy designing their stylish fit out.  Likewise, the award winning Italian Prezzo and food school Kitchen are working hard on interior plans with 2013’s Quarter 3 opening date scheduled. The new public square is also anticipated to be unveiled next Autumn.

Bringing this listed landmark back to life will be a major milestone for Harborne and we truly believe will add to the High Street experience.

Listed buildings should come with a bit of a health warning. They can become a costly obsession and are certainly not for everyone. A number of our institutional clients will always avoid bringing sites with listed buildings into their portfolio, given the inherent problems that they carry.

However, others see heritage as the means to create places and identity, which sometimes have immeasurable value in real estate terms.

K4 Architects are privileged to be working on some of the most significant heritage projects in Birmingham, including the Central Fire Station, Warwick Bar and The School Yard in Harborne. Although the assets are in levels of disrepair ranging from moderate to severe, without these buildings, the places would not have the same meaning or character. Through both their architecture and their historic uses, listed buildings add a layer of richness to the environment which cannot be otherwise created or manufactured. Nevertheless, the design process is far more involved and complex, as is the construction.

I sit in a quirky first floor office with a barrel-vaulted ceiling, a flagstone floor and a steel strongroom door. My view is a disused banana warehouse and cattle bridge and a historic stoplock, which later became the beginning of the Grand Union Canal. The room itself was Birmingham Canal Navigation’s archive room, where they kept canal records and probably cash collected in toll from the nearby lock. When we took the lease on this building, our instinct was not to modernise, but to peel back the layers of history. The 1970’s steel radiators therefore ended up in a skip and we reinstated all of the fireplaces, which we use to burn biomass.

In the case of the School Yard, the client EDG and K4 share this sense of fascination with the listed building. The essence of the project is to rediscover the inherent qualities of this building and make only subtle changes to the envelope and internal structure.