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Development roundup – new projects underway from Leicester to Leeds

A national contractor says it has made ‘significant progress’ on three residential projects based in Leicester.

The schemes from Stepnell include two student accommodation projects and one private residential build – Aimrok’s Wellington House - a £9 million renovation project recently won by Stepnell’s East Midlands office. 

The works will see the conversion of the existing office block into 105 apartments, including demolition, structural alterations, drainage, window replacement, partitions, mechanical and electrical services, internal finishes and associated external works.


“We’re extremely excited about making substantial progress on three great residential projects across Leicester,” Tom Sewell, regional director at Stepnell, said.

“The national housing shortage is currently a big focus for the construction sector, so helping to expand the Midlands’ residential offering is something we’re very proud of and hope to keep doing in the future.”

Stepnell has also begun on site at Leicester city centre’s newest student accommodation facility, Friar Lane. The £5.4 million scheme – commissioned by Obstrat - includes the construction of 90 self-contained studio apartments across five storeys. It includes a ‘recessed element’ at four storeys to provide a transition between the development and the rest of the buildings that already populate Friar Lane at a lower level. 

The team says it is not only conscious of how the build will have an impact aesthetically on the surrounding conservation area, but they are also addressing challenges faced by the site’s historic location.

Situated in Greyfriars conservation area, Stepnell – in conjunction with the University of Leicester’s Archaeological Services - conducted archaeological investigations before works could start to preserve the Roman and medieval remains discovered on site.

“Despite being built to serve the same purpose, each of these sites are incredibly unique and have presented individual challenges for the whole team to navigate and solve collaboratively,” Sewell added.

“However, due to our extensive experience working on private residential and student accommodation schemes, we have been able to conquer each of these challenges, moving forward with the projects and adding them to our ever-growing portfolio of residential developments.”

Another student residential project based in Leicester, and the contractor’s sixth project for Zone Developments, is Upperton Road, a £2 million refurbishment and new build project in close proximity to a school, meaning that Stepnell had to negotiate restrictive access without communal disruption.

These difficulties were overcome, however, resulting in the creation of 46 studio apartments, along with a range of modern communal facilities – including a gym, cinema room, common room, management office, study pods and laundry room. The Stepnell team also incorporated a living green sedum room to make the build more sustainable. 

“We have worked closely with Stepnell on a number of purpose-built luxury student accommodation schemes across Leicester and it never fails to deliver high-quality builds,” Neil Thakkar, director at Zone Developments, said.

“Not only are the team committed to displaying professionalism, experience and quality, they are also able to navigate difficult situations and find solutions to problems during the course of construction.”  

Sewell adds that all of the challenges the company has faced – along with the obvious restrictions faced while working on site throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – has ‘only allowed us to excel even further and refine our skills as a leading residential provider both in the East Midlands and nationwide’.

He concluded: The pandemic has further demonstrated to us and our clients how adaptable and solution focused our staff and supply chain are.”

Stepnell, a family-owned construction company, operates a three-region model - East Midlands (Nottingham), Midlands (Rugby) and Southern (Wantage, Poole and Southampton) - and has been operating for more than 150 years.

Developer makes history with funding

A Buckinghamshire-based residential developer has secured a £23.6 million funding facility for a new site in Houghton Regis, an industrial town in the county of Bedfordshire.  

Following an introduction by Peritus Corporate Finance, the multi-million-pound injection was raised with Paragon Development Finance, a specialist lender able to offer a ‘revolving facility’, specifically tailored to the scheme. 

It represents a significant transaction for SME housebuilder Storey Homes, with the funding enabling it to deliver Bidwell West, a new settlement of 109 ‘quality homes’, including 33 social housing properties. 

The scheme features two, three, four and five-bedroom homes, with the primary target audience for Bidwell West being families seeking to improve their lifestyle. This includes London-based buyers in search of more rural locations with work-from-home space – a rapidly increasing trend since the onset of the pandemic – as well as private gardens and access to countryside leisure activities.

“Once the pandemic recedes, we anticipate increasing numbers of people seeking a better quality of life in counties like ours,” Katy Jordan, managing director at Storey Homes, commented.

“The size and scope of this facility align with our appetite for building much-needed quality homes to meet the high demand [in Bedfordshire]. This investment from Paragon ensures we are in a position where our vision for the site will become a reality and Bidwell West will be ready for this inflow.”

Robert Orr, managing director at Paragon, added: “Storey Homes has a long and successful history in the region and they are a business with impressive growth plans. We are confident that Storey Homes will deliver an exceptional housing scheme for Bedfordshire and we look forward to watching the project take shape as well as supporting Storey on many further schemes.”

Storey Homes has recently completed a development of 1-to-5-bedroom homes at De Montfort Place in the centre of Bedford and 12 homes in the village of Barkway at Birch Meadow. It is also currently working on The Place, a new ambitious restoration development in Kempston, a town on the outskirts of Bedford. The ‘unique’ development of 55 homes includes the restoration of the former 19th century manor house and the first completions have already occurred. 

Construction has already started at Bidwell West, with first completions due in October 2021.

KMRE Group announces landmark residential development in Leeds

A ‘chic’ new residential development in Leeds due for completion later this spring is progressing at place, according to developer KMRE Group.

The firm says works are progressing at pace at ‘The Residence’ – found on Kirkstall Road in the central Leeds district – which will bring to market 111 exclusive apartments located within walking distance of Leeds city centre.

One, two and three-bedroom apartments are all on offer. They all feature open-plan living spaces and high-spec fixtures and fittings, including integrated appliances and ‘quality kitchens and bathrooms’.

Knitting the development together, the firm says, are the landscaped grounds, which offer resident parking, on-site cycle storage and balconies with views of the city and beyond.

KMRE says it has an ongoing commitment to bringing new homes to Leeds, having previously completed schemes in the city centre, as well as further afield in Sheffield, York and Nottingham.

The Residence is within walking distance of central Leeds – a city famous for its market and its reputation as a major legal hub – and offers easy access to the city’s prime retail offering. This includes Victoria Leeds, a recently expanded shopping destination which houses a collection of exclusive high-end retailers, including John Lewis, Harvey Nichols, Mulberry, SpaceNK, Vivienne Westwood, & Other Stories, and Louis Vuitton, as well as several independent boutiques and rooftop restaurants.

Elsewhere, there is Trinity Leeds - opened in 2013 – which is one of the city’s newest large-scale shopping centres, featuring 120 stores and a range of restaurants and bars. This includes Trinity Kitchen, a unique pop-up eatery space featuring a vibrant mix of street food outlets.

The scheme also sits in close proximity to the vibrant Headingley area, a popular urban hub for professionals, students and families with ‘its quirky bars, small businesses and thriving culinary scene’.

Home to Yorkshire County Cricket Ground and Emerald Headingley Stadium, it’s a popular destination for sports fans in more normal times and is widely considered to be one of the city’s most up-and-coming districts.

As well as being a legal hub second only to London, Leeds is also often classed as the financial centre of the North, providing a range of employment opportunities and strong transport links. It’s home to major employers including Channel 4, Sky Limited, Capita and First Direct, and following the BBC’s announcement of its ‘The BBC Across the UK’ plan earlier this month, it has been revealed that the broadcaster plans to move two BBC News teams and other departments to Leeds, to create jobs and investment within the city.

Meanwhile, in the latest Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index, Leeds was named as the best place to live and work in the north of England. The Index measures the performance of 42 UK cities against ten categories including income, employment, work-life balance and transport, amongst other criteria.

Elland Road, home to Marcelo Bielsa’s swashbuckling Leeds United side, is a short distance outside of the city centre, while other cultural attractions in the city include the Royal Armouries Museum and Leeds Grand Theatre – the home of Opera North, Northern Ballet and West Yorkshire Playhouse and the largest production theatre outside of London. This, KMRE says, solidifies Leeds as a go-to destination for residents, tourists and sports fans alike.

The Residence recently opened the doors to its show apartment to give interested parties an opportunity to view the development and get a glimpse of the ‘chic, metropolitan lifestyle on offer’.

Interested buyers and investors wishing to view the development are invited to contact KMRE to book an appointment, with Covid-safe measures in place.

“The Residence offers buyers a unique, exclusive and highly convenient place to live in the heart of Leeds,” Kam Mogul, director at KMRE Group, said.

“It is currently the only residential development under construction so close to Leeds city centre and the business district and because of that, we have already seen considerable interest.”

He added: “Leeds continues on its upward trajectory and with its significant business district, abundant employment opportunities, and enviable retail and food offering, there is a growing demand for central city living.”

“Myself and the KMRE team are enjoying watching the development progress and we look forward to welcoming new residents to their homes later this spring.”

Tyneside scheme attracts international interest

A new housing development on the banks of the Tyne, set to be completed this summer, has attracted international interest.

Work is currently underway at Steenberg’s Yard at Newcastle’s Lower Ouseburn Valley to create 28 ‘stylish two and three-bedroomed luxury duplex apartments’, all with outdoor terraces.

Now PfP Igloo – the developer building the homes – has announced that 60% of the apartments have already been reserved, with enquiries from as far away as Italy.

At the same time, PfP Igloo - a partnership bringing together PfP Capital and well-established sustainable developer igloo – is attracting a considerable amount of interest from expat North Easterners, eager to return home to live nearer to family and friends.

Jan Dale, director of executive estate agents, Urban Base, the firm selling the properties, said the enquiries so far had come from far and wide.

“We had people in touch who want to come back to the North East, including mums and dads looking at the properties for their children who want to return to the area,” she commented.

“At the same time, they’ve also got a huge amount of appeal to people who may want to downsize but still live close to the city centre while enjoying everything the Ouseburn has to offer.”

Steenberg’s Yard follows on from PfP Igloo’s Malings development nearby, which was developed in conjunction with Homes England and Newcastle City Council. In the latest project, the developers insist they have ensured that those involved in the creation of the scheme have more than just a vested professional interest in it.

“So many of the people involved either live nearby or work in the Ouseburn,” Lowri Bond, development manager at PfP Igloo, said.

“They know the area and are proud of being part of the existing community and the fact they are helping to create a new one.”

This includes Xsite Architecture, marketing agency Hunter Johnstone and Studio KIND, the interior designers for the scheme, who are all based in the Ouseburn.

In addition, some of the specialist art features which will be included in the development have been created by Raskl, which has its studio at nearby Lime Street. Other services are also being supplied by organisations with a strong North East presence.

You can find out more about the development here.


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