Author Archives: Kate

The School Yard development in Harborne has received a highly prized 2014 Renaissance Award from the Birmingham Civic Society. 

Every year the Civic Society asks for nominations from the public and its members for examples of buildings or open spaces that have been brought back into life from a vacant or derelict state and facing an unknown future.

Gavin Orton, the Civic Society’s chairman elect, said 2014 had been a very strong year and two awards had been made – to EDG Property’s The School Yard development and to the Coffin Works in the Jewellery Quarter.

When EDG Property acquired the Grade II listed Clock Tower building, a former Victorian Board School, it was in a very poor condition inside and out. However, said Mr Orton, Neil Edginton and the team at EDG Property had worked closely with Birmingham City Council conservation officers during the work to ensure the heritage of the building was retained and any new work sensitively incorporated.

“The buildings have been brought back into modern and vibrant use and the bars and restaurants have enlivened Harborne High Street and given the area a new lease of life,” said Mr Orton. “It is also encouraging to see that education will still be a part of the development with the incorporation of a new kitchen school, the Harborne Food School.”

Michael Whitby, Lord Whitby of Harborne, officially unveiled the Civic Society plaque. The former leader of Birmingham City Council and former councillor for Harborne was on the planning committee involved in the original application.

He praised the developers and architects for being true to their word and delivering the vision they had promised from the outset.

He said: “One of the dilemmas when you are actually sitting in a planning committee when you’re selling land to builders and developers is that they will say ‘this is what we going to do.’ But often, dare I say it, the original artist’s impressions transforms itself into one desk, one tree and one table.

“You only have to look outside and see this beautiful square, which I know because I visit regularly, to see that this is an area people use and walk and enjoy and meet, which is what the Birmingham Civic Society has recognised.

“The developers and the architects were true to their promise. They came to me with a vision and they said this is what we’re going to do to a Grade II listed building in a dilapidated and sorry state and the city didn’t have the wherewithal to invest.

“This could have been a mass of very ordinary flats – and it isn’t, it’s a catalyst; it’s part of the revival of the great village feel that Harborne is.”

Mr Edginton thanked the Birmingham Civic Society for the Renaissance Award. The building had been bought in the worst possible economic climate and he praised the important support role played by Birmingham City Council, then under the leadership of Mike Whitby, and Birmingham Property Services.

He is convinced the development is a catalyst for the redevelopment of Harborne, with major steelworks going up at the nearby Home Bargains high street store and the purchase of the derelict Gala Bingo Hall site.

“We didn’t want to lose this school building for the community of Harborne – we wanted to bring it back so that it could be used by the community again. We’ve done that, it’s been brought it back to life by the people that eat here, drink here and relax here every day.”

The School Yard was also commercially successful, becoming a brand that had attracted major national operators Boston Tea Party and Prezzo.

Mr Edginton added that another important part of the story was the Harborne Food School.

“I was shocked to learn that by 2030, 60 per cent of kids in the country will be clinically obese because of lack of food awareness, on the basis that schools have now removed from the National Curriculum lots of skills that we used to learn at school.

“We asked how do we link this building that was a school back into something that can help solve this problem, and that’s how the food school was born.”

He said it was a concept that was unique to the city and deserved to be rolled out across the country.

Phase Two of the School Yard project, a complex of luxury apartments adjoining the courtyard, will be completed and handed over to residents in November this year.

The building is clad in black zinc – a design concept meant to represent a blackboard, a play on the building’s heritage as a school.

Former winners of the Birmingham Civic Society Renaissance Awards include the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s Histories Gallery, Fort Dunlop, Birmingham Town Hall, Handsworth Park and Moor Street Station.

(Many thanks to Phil Brown of HEM Life for words)

Just a handful of apartments are now left at The Cube after a growing feel-good factor in Birmingham saw a surge of new sales over the summer.

Out of a total of 244 apartments, there are now just five apartments available for sale at the award-winning mixed-use scheme.

Apartments had been selling at an average of one per week over the last two years a significant increase in interest has seen more than 20 deals completed in the last three months.

The last available units include just one on the city wing of the building where owners can sublet the property and another four in the private wing including one of the scheme’s largest apartments at 1,100 sq ft with stunning views over the city and out towards the Malvern Hills.

Neil Edginton, director of EDG Property said the completion of the apartment sales would be the realisation of a vision that began almost a decade ago.

He said: “The Cube was the most ambitious development Birmingham has seen – both in terms of its physical structure and its desire to create a real community right in the heart of the city.

“It is now almost 10 years since Ken Shuttleworth first sketched out his incredible design and we can now take a step back and look at a building where more than 3,000 live and work, which has a hotel, a gym and spa and some of the city’s best bars and restaurants and say that the vision has been achieved.”

Neil believes ensuring that a significant proportion of the units were sold to owner-occupiers has also helped create a unique atmosphere at The Cube, which has been instrumental in selling the final few apartments.   He said: “There are apartments that have been bought by investors and are rented out but there are also many many people who have put down their roots at The Cube because of the fantastic lifestyle it has to offer.

“The variety of different apartments means we have a wide range of people living at The Cube from international students to retired couples with a love of the theatre and everything in between and that gives a special ambiance to the place that you don’t get anywhere else.

“There is also such a buzz about the city at the moment with the Mailbox redevelopment and the new John Lewis all on The Cube’s doorstep that increasing numbers of people are thinking how nice it would be to live right in the heart of it.”

A blueprint has been unveiled that is set to transform Fort Dunlop into one of the region’s most exciting mixed-use developments.

The atrium of the iconic office development has already been completely overhauled in a £400,000 investment since it was acquired by a fund managed by Tristan Capital Partners in partnership with EDG Property in 2014.

Now the building’s owners have unveiled a multi-million pound plan to transform significant areas of the site, that will include a glass conference centre on the building’s roof, a new car-park and deck, a refurbishment of the scheme’s Travelodge hotel with a new dedicated car-park and an upgrade of Fort Dunlop’s retail and F&B offer.  

EDG Property director Neil Edginton, said this was the start of an exciting new era for Fort Dunlop.

He said: “The success of Fort Dunlop since it was redeveloped a decade ago is undoubted but the new investment in the building will take it to a whole new level.

“There are more than 2,500 people who work at Fort Dunlop every day and many more who already visit the building to use the gym and the existing retail every week, but we believe there remains the prospect of driving further growth with the right investment.

“First and foremost we have to ensure the infrastructure is in place to accommodate those already using Fort Dunlop as well as the potential growth in visitors so the addition of several hundred new car parking spaces is a critical component of our plans.

“One of the real success stories at Fort Dunlop has been the hotel and we are working closely with Travelodge who are committed to a major upgrade and we are supporting that with the creation of a new dedicated 45-space car park next to the hotel.

“In retailers like Specialized and PoggenPohl, Fort Dunlop already has a unique offer that attracts visitors from across the region so again we feel that there is an opportunity to improve the general environment so we can attract more retailers of a similar stature and ultimately give people more reason to visit and dwell for longer.

“The largest investment and the element of the blueprint which we believe is a real game-changer for Fort Dunlop is the addition of the glass conference centre on the roof.

“The roof is a great space with fantastic views over the city and we are confident there is a market for a conference space that offers something completely unique for delegates. Combine this with the investment in the hotel, the car-parking, the food and drink offer, the retail and the general environment and we are creating a destination with an incredibly positive future.”

A planning application for the first phase of the works is set to be submitted to Birmingham City Council shortly, with construction (subject to planning approval), set to get underway in 2016.

EDG Property has acquired a landmark building in the heart of Coventry as it makes its first foray into the city currently enjoying a major renaissance on back of the success of its universities and companies like Jaguar Land Rover.

The building near the city’s famous Belgrade Theatre has been the home of a major Co-op store for more than half a century but the retailer decided to sell the building and focus on its other stores in the city.

EDG Property is currently working with a leading architects firm to draw up a proposal for the 140,000 sq ft building and director Neil Edginton said it was an exciting time to be investing in Coventry.

He said: “Coventry is a city with a growing reputation so we are delighted to have been able to acquire a such a prime building in the heart of the city and we very excited about the opportunities it offers.”

Coventry is currently experiencing unprecedented investment with Coventry University alone investing several hundred million in its city centre campus and student accommodation.

In the last two months major student schemes – one behind the Belgrade Theatre and the other on the site of the old sorting office – have been announced and in total there are more than 5,000 student units either in planning or under construction within a mile of the city centre.

Other developments of note include the Friargate scheme next to Coventry station that is set to be the new home of Coventry City Council and the national headquarters of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

The city is also developing a new restaurant quarter around the soon to be revamped Cathedral Lanes development which will include a Las Iguanas and Cosy Club and potentially a new Wagamamas.

Neil added: “Coventry is starting to fulfill its significant potential and we are seeing investors beginning to flock to the city to take advantage of city centre that is wanting to thrive again.

“The strong reputations of the city’s universities is bringing greater numbers of students to the city who are playing a key part in driving the local economy, not just in term time but all year round as they increasingly decide to put their roots down and make the city their home.

“There is also a real can-do attitude in the city when it comes to grasping the opportunities on offer, which is being driven by a hugely ambitious city council that is determined to put Coventry back on the map.”

With the cladding complete and the picture windows now in place – it is not difficult to see why The School Yard apartments were all sold off-plan.

Set for completion in November, the residential apartments will complete a two-phase scheme in the heart of Harborne Village in Birmingham, which has already won a string of awards from such diverse organisations from the Birmingham Civic Society to the RICS.

EDG director Neil Edginton said everyone’s focus was now completing the project on time and getting the new residents moved in so that they can enjoy their first Christmas in the scheme.

He said: “Now that the zinc cladding has been applied, the development is starting to look like the CGI images we produced at the beginning of this process and which ultimately the buyers saw and decided that it was somewhere they wanted to live.

“Work is now focused on the interiors of the apartments and now that the windows are in you can really begin to understand the impact of the huge picture windows in the apartments in terms of the light and the great views they offer across Harborne.

“The project remains on time and completion is planned for later this year.   We are looking forward to welcoming residents to their new homes so that they can enjoy Christmas at The School Yard. It has been an exciting process for EDG delivering this residential scheme and we plan to announce further new projects in the very near future.”