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Coventry needs to be confident about its growth potential and stop looking over its shoulder at Birmingham, according to the expert panel at EG’s first ever Coventry City Talks event.

A robust discussion took place at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena around the topics of devolution, development and investment in the city, with James Brookes, associate partner at Bromwich Hardy, setting the tone within the first five minutes of the debate. Brookes immediately asked Martin Reeves – chief executive of the fledgling West Midlands Combined Authority, which was formed in June, and Coventry City Council chief executive – if devolution will actually help the city.

He said: “Will Coventry still struggle and play second fiddle to Birmingham? Coventry has been chasing the development curve for as long as I can remember. How will devolution help?”

Reeves was taken aback by the direct questioning, but responded: “There are clearly some challenges – there’s massive development taking place in and around Birmingham with HS2, and Coventry is trying to develop its city centre around Friargate, the railway station and City Centre South, all in a challenging market with investment fragility. That is a problem. Are there some issues out there about perception? I think it’s more of a reflection of Coventry being confident about its growth potential while not looking over its shoulder at Birmingham.”

He added: “For economic growth, we need to get over the Birmingham issue and say far from it being a liability and a challenge, we’re less than half an hour from the second city and an hour from our only global city – what’s not to love?”

With each area of the Midlands having its own fundamental differences and issues, an understanding of how devolution can work at scale is needed to make it work. Reeves said that the West Midlands Combined Authority has worked on a model of economic growth and impact that has “never been produced before”.

“This gives us a sense economically of the impact not just on GVA but also economic uplift across the entire area. We’re going in with our eyes wide open to argue the case about not having a disproportionate amount of funding going into either place X or Y.”

But just how much traction does the Midlands Engine brand have?

As the Midlands is geographically at the centre of the UK, Reeves believed it to be pivotal in balancing out the economy between London and the North.

“The moniker is an artificial construct and a government minister-led sense of balance against the Northern Powerhouse. Scale is important.”

Reeves believed the most important issue for Coventry and Warwickshire is “making sense of our own identity and our own proposition for growth”.

“Layer that into the West Midlands and then into the Midlands Engine, which is critical to the emerging new government’s industrial strategy. If we can get it right through a major swathe of the UK, we can rebalance the heat of the economy between London and the South East with what I believe to be an overinflated view of the Northern Powerhouse.”

Panellists and guests were keen to make the most of their opportunity to question Reeves on various subjects, including Brexit. He said that Brexit has created uncertainty and some turbulence in the investment sector and said there was a “pause” in the market. Reeves believed, however, that it also created opportunities, with new investment and new types of private equity and sovereign funding, including pension funds wanting to come into Coventry, Warwickshire and the wider West Midlands area.

However, Reeves warned that Coventry and Warwickshire needed to be ready with “proper, investable opportunities”, and added: “Unless we’re ready and are aware of the risks and returns, then we’re stuffed. We’re learning to be more agile. Working at scale with Birmingham, the Black Country and other areas across the Midlands is more important post-Brexit than ever.”

Bromwich Hardy’s Brookes added: “As a result of Brexit, I think we’ll see more investment from overseas into the UK because of the exchange rate.”

“Coventry has a desperate shortage of student accommodation. For the two universities to effectively compete with other cities for students, it needs quality accommodation. There are currently 50,000 students here and only 4,000 purpose-built beds. There are schemes coming through but there’s still a massive undersupply. Around 25,000 students won’t be able to access purpose-built space.”

Nick Button, head of commercial property at law firm Band Hatton Button, agreed with Bellfield that there needs to be better provision of purpose-built student housing in the city. “There’s a lot of second-rate existing stock which will hopefully be regenerated back into family housing too,” he said.

The obvious next area of investment in Coventry is retail and leisure, and a long-awaited announcement on a preferred development partner for the council is expected soon. Reeves confirmed the local authority is in a procurement process to secure a partner but could not go into detail.

“There’s a lot going on. A city centre should be a mix of residential, retail and leisure, employment and digital meeting with a café culture, which is not easy to deliver. The original Jerde city centre master plan eight years ago was unrealistic and I said so at the time. This is our one chance to get it right.”

Reeves confirmed that via the WMCA, there is a process with opportunity to leverage up to £150m as part of a city deal to accelerate development across Friargate and the city centre, which could include further spec development of offices and a hotel.



(Photograph) L-R: Nick Button, Henry Bellfield, James Brookes, Martin Reeves, David Armstrong

19 October 2016

Recent News & Deals

The Albany will be taking on a 25-year lease at the theatre block at Earlsdon Park, as well as 10,000 sq ft of space to be used for offices, studios and a caf&eacute;. Coventry City Council has guaranteed the lease.<br /> <br /> The Albany Theatre has been located at Earlsdon Park since 2013 and is now looking to consolidate its appeal to the wider community by offering studio and teaching space alongside catering facilities.<br /> <br /> Earlsdon Park is one of the best-known mixed-use schemes in Coventry, consisting of offices, a hotel and leisure space.<br /> <br /> The site is located close to Coventry city centre and train station, providing access to local amenities and public transport links. Clearbell purchased the site in 2015 and since then have let over 23,000 sq ft of office space.<br /> <br /> Dominic Moore, Asset Management Director at Clearbell commented:<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Albany is a local success story and we&rsquo;re delighted that Earlsdon Park will continue to play a role in deepening Coventry&rsquo;s cultural landscape. Earlsdon Park provides a great example of a multi-use site providing much needed resources in a city centre location.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Tom Bromwich comments:<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This is excellent news for Earlsdon Park, following on form the successful letting of 26,000 sq ft to SITEL. We are now concentrating on letting the remaining office space with a view to the scheme being fully let this year.&rdquo;

08 June 2017


<span style="font-size: 14px;">David Penn, who has been in practice in the city for 17 years, has been appointed as a partner at the company based at the Cobalt Business Centre and joins from Shortland Penn + Moore.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Penn is the only person to have twice won the Property Professional of the Year in the First Pro Awards and is a director of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">He joins Tom Bromwich and Richard Hardy as partners in the business which has grown rapidly since being established in 2008.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Penn said: &ldquo;I felt I was ready for a new challenge and am very pleased to join Bromwich Hardy at an exciting time for the business. The company has grown impressively and has a very good reputation in the property industry as well as across this region.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;I know Tom and Richard very well, I know the way they work and how ambitious they are for the business. I am delighted that they feel that I can add to the team and can help drive forward those plans.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;Coventry and Warwickshire is going through significant growth in terms of invest and development and while that brings challenges, it also brings opportunities which I believe can really benefit Bromwich Hardy.&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Bromwich Hardy completed more than &pound;50 million of deals last year, and acts for clients across the UK. It was named Coventry Agent of the Year, in 2014 and is listed as one of the top five independent agents in the area.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Tom Bromwich said: &ldquo;We feel we are in a very good position to take advantage of the improving property market as well as the industrial and commercial scene in this region, and David can help us achieve that goal.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;He has great experience, knows the market extremely well and has a very extensive network of contacts across the region. He is a very exciting addition to the team.&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">CAPTION (from left): Tom Bromwich, David Penn, Richard Hardy</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">For more information on Bromwich Hardy visit www.bromwichhardy.com.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&nbsp;</span>

29 April 2015


<span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;The shortlisting process has been particularly tough this year,&rdquo; explained Martin Gibbs, Chair of Coventry &amp; Warwickshire First and Senior Partner at Dafferns. &ldquo;With 37 entries across the five categories it wasn&rsquo;t easy to narrow it down.&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&nbsp;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The nominees were assessed according to five factors:</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&nbsp;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">1) Excellence of their contribution in the workplace</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">2) Their community contribution outside the workplace</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">3) The support they provide to others inside and / or outside the workplace</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">4) Their commitment to and engagement in Coventry and Warwickshire</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">5) The intangible X-Factor</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&nbsp;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Property Professional of the Year</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&nbsp;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The shortlist is:</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&nbsp;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Gus Bhandal, Warwickshire County Council</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">James Brookes, Bromwich Hardy</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">James Walton, Sheldon Bosley</span>

08 April 2015


<span style="font-size: 14px;">A new blueprint for Coventry is set to draw in business and catapult the city centre&rsquo;s shops and offices up the national rankings.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Proposals to divide the heart of the city into nine quarters as a platform for development have been approved by Coventry City Council&rsquo;s cabinet this week.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">They are set to pique the interest of businesses looking for space to occupy as well as developers and investors alike.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Nick Holt, of D&amp;P Holt, said: &ldquo;The blueprint should generally allow growth in all sectors, thus increasing the local economy. It should in turn help local businesses to expand in the city and put Coventry firmly on the map where it belongs.&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The Area Action Plan (AAP) will create the Business Quarter around Friargate; Cathedrals and Cultural Quarter; the Civic Quarter; Far Gosford Street Quarter; Health and Learning Quarter; Leisure and Entertainment Quarter incorporating Sky Dome and Belgrade Plaza; Primary Shopping Quarter; Technology Park Quarter; and University and Enterprise Quarter.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">James Brookes, from Bromwich Hardy, said: &ldquo;In the short term, it is very difficult to predict availability and rent levels. But in the long term, with defined areas for specific use, rents should rise due to the concentration.&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Properties around the newly-built station and Friargate project will be the first areas to see values rise, according to Brookes. Hillfields is also set to be a particular hot spot should the plans come to fruition, he added.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;There are significant opportunities for commercial developers in a city with capacity for added value and plenty of development sites &ndash; now clearly defined through the AAP,&rdquo; explained David Penn, managing director of Shortland Penn + Moore.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;The Cathedral Lanes renovation will be an absolute winner quickly, as quality restaurant brands will appear in the city pretty much for the first time, and the City Centre South Regeneration Scheme will hopefully create a comprehensive scheme, including strong anchors and increased floorplate sizes.&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The council plan will provide a major boost to the office sector. Coventry lacks quality Grade A offices, particularly in the city centre, and the proposals are set to bring new and much-needed properties to the market.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;We should see a steady increase in rents, particularly on offices, given the quality and improving stock that will be on offer,&rdquo; said Holt.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;The office market should see the benefits of the Friargate scheme now becoming a reality. The amount of office space that is proposed there should attract some larger businesses. That will hopefully attract the larger retailers to the city centre.&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The masterplan&rsquo;s real winner is likely to be the city&rsquo;s retail sector. The AAP is set to tackle the &ldquo;clear disparity between the city&rsquo;s population and the quality of its retail offer&rdquo;, the council said. Coventry is currently the country&rsquo;s thirteenth biggest city yet its retail centre is ranked fifty eight.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Brookes said: &ldquo;The retail sector should benefit most as the offer at present is very tired. It is probably about as low as it can go, so there is really only one direction it can go &ndash; and that is up.&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The blueprint also suggests more housing within the city centre, around Corporation Street and Fairfax Street. Penn agrees there &ldquo;must be a comprehensive strategy that encourages the development of housing&rdquo;.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">He explained: &ldquo;Coventry has low central housing values yet it is one of the best places in the country for future growth. It is partly due to the phenomenal impact of advanced technology and manufacturing and the pull of the universities to foreign students, bolstering the demand.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Brookes concluded: &ldquo;I see a long and arduous process to put the proposals into place. But should it work, rents will rise and Coventry business should flourish due to the increased traffic into the city. Coventry is only 55 minutes from London on the fast train and it is not inconceivable that a number of businesses could relocate here for cheaper office space.&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&nbsp;</span>

23 March 2015

Blueprint boosts office and retail prospects in Coventry city centre

<span style="font-size: 14px;">Westfield Road, Southam is currently being refurbished and the 18,500 sq ft building will house the latest showroom and retail store for the expanding Group. Tom Bromwich acted on behalf of BPS in lease negotiations in order to secure the building on the right terms.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">John Dibble, Managing Director of BPS comments</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;We have been looking to expand as a Group for some time and when we became aware of the opportunity in Southam&nbsp; we moved quickly to acquire the building. Southam will complement our existing locations at Leamington Spa, Tewkesbury, Bidford-on-Avon and Shipston-on-Stour. The size of the property here will allow us to showcase our full range of products and we will be fully operational in January 2015 &ldquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Tom Bromwich adds</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;We have been assisting BPS for some time with their property portfolio and I am delighted that we have managed to secure this new opportunity for them. The building is very well located and sit well with the Group&rsquo;s other buildings&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">For further information on Commercial Property Acquisition advice please contact Tom Bromwich or Richard Hardy on 02476 308900 or visitwww.bromwichhardy.com</span>

01 November 2014


<span style="font-size: 14px;">The Wigley Group, which began life as a plant hire and earth moving company before moving into commercial property, has moved to the Cobalt Centre at Middlemarch Business Park.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">It signed a five-year lease on the new property, exactly 50 years to the day when it started trading at Barby, near Rugby.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The family-owned firm had run its operations &ndash; which also cover property advice, maintenance and insurance &ndash; from three offices in Coventry and Rugby before the move.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">James Davies, of The Wigley Group, said the move heralded a major step for the company which owns the Sandy Lane and Henley Park Industrial Estates in Coventry, as well as developments in Newcastle and land bordering the A444 in Foleshill.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;The company has developed as it has grown. Originally it was a plant hire and civil works company which undertook drainage, road and other civil engineering contracts across the region,&rdquo; he said.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;The founder John Wigley was a real entrepreneur and he developed several strands to the business including, at one stage, the manufacturing of plant and specialist prison fencing.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;At the same time, he built up land and property holdings which have subsequently been developed or are in stages of development.&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">In 2010 the group launched two new companies &ndash; Wigley Commercial Services Ltd and WCS, to deliver commercial property, insurance, financial services and vacant property management.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Davies added: &ldquo;Those companies have proved successful and it makes perfect sense, now they are established, to bring them all under one roof in a headquarters that reflects the development of the firm over the last five decades.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;The Colbalt Centre is perfect for our needs in terms of size and location, and will give us a further springboard for our activities over the next few years.&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The letting was arranged by agents Bromwich Hardy &ndash; who are now neighbours of the Wigley Group.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Tom Bromwich, of Bromwich Hardy, said: &ldquo;We have acted for and worked with The Wigley Group for several years in various forms, most lately helping to market the property it has across Coventry and Warwickshire. It has widened its scope of operation in recent years and that has proved highly successful.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;We always take the needs of our clients very much into account when advising them &ndash; but as we are a couple of doors down on the same development, we were able to talk with first-hand experience!&rdquo;</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The Wigley Group is planning a range of activities to celebrate its five decades in business including a celebrity charity golf day at Staverton Park in June.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">James Davies (left) and Tom Bromwich</span>

01 May 2014


<span style="font-size: 14px;">Bromwich Hardy, based in Coventry, has chalked up two lettings and a sale, including the uptake of both rural and town centre office space.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The firm has successfully secured the freehold sale of Charles Court a 3,266 sq ft property located on Budbrooke Road to the west of Warwick town centre.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The three-storey building has been acquired by On-Centre Surveys, which provides topographic and building surveys across the UK and Europe.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Established in 1971, the firm employs around 20 UK staff and has relocated its headquarters from Leamington.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Digital marketing firm, Market Location has taken out a 10-year lease on a major office suite at Rossmore House on the popular Newbold Terrace in Leamington.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The 3,440 sq ft property adjoins the new justice centre and will host around 12 staff.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Bromwich Hardy has also attracted inward investors to a converted agricultural building situated near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">OCSL, which provides IT solutions, has relocated to The Old Grain Dryer at Newhouse Farm Business Centre &ndash; open plan office space of 1, 512 sq ft.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">The company has secured the property on a six year lease and has relocated its regional office from Birmingham. OSCL also has two additional offices premises based in London and Sussex.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">Tom Bromwich, of Bromwich Hardy, said: &ldquo;These three deals cover a real cross-section and reflect the fact that the market is undoubtedly picking up momentum.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;They include a town centre letting and sale and also the leasing of a rural based office, so they are a complete range.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;There is a great deal of talk that recovery is being driven by manufacturing, but this also proved that service industries are also thriving and expanding.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /> </span><br /> <span style="font-size: 14px;">&ldquo;It is key for any area to be able to attract investment from both in and outside its area and we have been able to do that with all three of these deals.&rdquo;</span>

01 November 2013