Birm­ing­ham’s a bet­ter in­vest­ment than Lon­don Devel­oper re­veals plan for 30,000 new homes

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Graeme Brown

Quar­ter, where work has be­gun on 404 apart­ments;

A mixed-use scheme with bars, restau­rants and of­fices at East­side Locks, sur­round­ing the canal basin;

Plans for more than 300 apart­ments in the Snow Hill area, through a joint ven­ture with the Pru­den­tial.

It is also in ad­vanced ne­go­ti­a­tions about an­other three sites in Birm­ing­ham.

Mr Pid­g­ley, who was made a CBE in 2013, said Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil had been a ma­jor fac­tor in at­tract­ing him to the city.

He said he saw the re­la­tion­ship with the pub­lic sec­tor as key and Wa­heed Nazir, the city coun­cil’s strate­gic direc­tor for econ­omy, was a big part of that.

He ex­plained: “I rang up Wa­heed one day and we were con­sid­er­ing a al­ready num­ber of places to work.

“You want man­ners, col­lab­o­ra­tion and the truth, I rang him up and he said ‘When? To­day? To­mor­row?’.

“We want cer­tainty and when we ask the ques­tion of a lo­cal au­thor­ity we want an an­swer.”

He added: “Why did we choose Birm­ing­ham?

“It is great city from the point of view of what it’s done and there will be even bet­ter in­fra­struc­ture with HS2 in time.

“It has a lot of com­pa­nies mov­ing here and there will be more.

“It’s a city that’s grow­ing, with all the right cre­den­tials, but also the right po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship.”

Mr Pid­g­ley re­vealed that talks were cur­rently ad­vanced on two de­vel­op­ments to de­liver 250 homes each in Birm­ing­ham and an­other which will be 500 homes.

It will be a ma­jor help in a city which needs 80,000 new homes by 2031 to cope with a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion. But does he think the city will hit the tar­get?

“No, I don’t, but I think if any­body has a chance it’s Birm­ing­ham,” he said. “Skills are the big­gest prob­lem. “We have skills short­ages here and we need to work at that and find a way of bring­ing in mod­ern meth­ods of con­struc­tion.

“We are build­ing in a fac­tory now. It is time the in­dus­try mod­ernised.

“If you are mak­ing it in a fac­tory, you are go­ing to make it a lot faster.”

Berke­ley also has a 15-acre site near the cen­tre of Strat­ford-up­onAvon with plans for a canal­side mixed-use site.

Berkley’s in­vest­ment in the re­gion comes amid dire Gov­ern­ment warn­ings for its fu­ture af­ter Brexit. The econ­omy of the West Mid­lands could suf­fer mas­sive dam­age and shrink by eight per cent, even if there is a com­pre­hen­sive trade deal, White­hall anal­y­sis shows.

If we crash out of the EU with­out a deal then eco­nomic out­put in the re­gion could be hit by 13 per cent.

How­ever, he said: “At the end of the day, you have got to get up in the morn­ing and get on with your life. You come down to that trust.

“There may be a no-deal Brexit, I don’t know, but I am a be­liever in the British and our work ethic and I think it won’t be as dra­matic as we all think.

“Ul­ti­mately, there will have to be some com­mon sense be­cause we are too big an econ­omy and we are im­por­tant to Europe.

“There will have to be a com­pro­mise.”

Berke­ley, through St Joseph, has taken on 50 peo­ple in Birm­ing­ham in the past year and it plans to grow to 120 by the end of the year.

Mr Pid­g­ley said that he saw its in­vest­ment spread­ing wider than the city out to the Black Coun­try and be­yond adding: “We will push out, but this city is so hun­gry and ready to grow that there’s years of work here.”

I don’t have any doubt that in the next decade you will be­come one of those world-class cities Tony Pid­g­ley

> An artist’s im­pres­sion of Snow Hill Wharf > Tony Pid­g­ley, founder and chair­man of Berke­ley Homes

> The East­side Locks area is on the list of de­vel­op­ments

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