The bling’s the thing in Birmingham
“We’ve got buyers and investors coming from all directions,” says Phil Carlin, chief executive of Seven Capital, Birmingham’s largest (and homegrown) development firm, which is planning to deliver 4,500 new homes in the city. “Some London-based investors are buying off-plan ahead of a relocation and others are buying to get their foot on the property ladder. Some are investing for their children who might be coming to study here.” The average price is £155,400, compared to £494,300 in London, according to Hometrack, making it considerably more affordable than the capital. It offers rental yields of 5.03 per cent, according to LendInvest.
Major housebuilders have spotted the opportunity, with Berkeley opening a division in Birmingham earlier this year – its first venture outside of south-east England in more than a decade – with Galliard following suit. “Birmingham was hit very hard during the downturn in 2007 and 2008 but the substantial infrastructure improvements, including the £750million development of New Street station, the arrival of HS2, the new library and the Metro tram extensions have been fundamental in its renaissance,” says Mark Evans of Knight Frank. “There’s a focus now on the city which is almost hard to believe.”
But there’s more to Birmingham than just impressive infrastructure. Buyers are attracted to its lively arts scene, including the eclectic Thinktank science museum and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and its growing reputation for high-quality food; the city has a handful of Michelinstarred restaurants. “That’s an element that has really evolved over the past few years,” says John Griffiths of Savills. “Back in the Seventies and Eighties, the only thing to eat in Birmingham was low-grade hotel quality or fast food. Now there are street food movements emerging in all districts.”
Of Birmingham’s many districts, the Jewellery Quarter – just 10 minutes’ walk south east from New Street station – ranks top in terms of contemporary cachet and charm. Nicknamed the “Shoreditch of Birmingham”, the area is the creative cradle of the city; it is estimated that 40 per cent of British jewellery is made in its 100-plus workshops, yet it has a population of just 3,000. The district, which boasts more than 200 listed buildings and the postcard-pretty St Paul’s Square, has been the focus of boutique developers and high-end warehouse conversions. By Birmingham standards, it’s not cheap, with top-end prices averaging £100 per sq ft more than other parts of the city centre. A converted building with seven homes on St Paul’s Square, with prices starting from £495,000 for a one-bedroom apartment with a study,
New homes at Fabrick Square, main and below, sold out off-plan