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Roundup – Liverpool’s £100m waterfront project & new BTR scheme in Sheffield

Liverpool-based global property developer Romal Capital has reinforced its commitment to Liverpool’s Central Docks by committing £100 million to transform the derelict brownfield area and realise its vision of Sydney in Liverpool’s city centre.

In its planning application to Liverpool City Council, Romal Capital said it will progress the work it has completed on Quay Central & Park Central, having already built 237 residential apartments and commercial tenancies, delivered last year. 

The new £100 million scheme is set to include 330 sustainable, ‘smart’ homes, retail space, other amenities and public realm, as well as investment in the surrounding infrastructure to help regenerate the waterfront.


In addition, the project would include a ‘vitally important’ pedestrian link in the development of this dockside area, from the Three Graces landmark and Princes Dock to the proposed site of Everton FC’s new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.

“We are very excited about this scheme and its potential to transform this barren brownfield land into a thriving new waterfront neighbourhood,” Greg Malouf, chief executive of Romal Capital, commented.

“The combination of new smart homes, carefully selected retail and leisure outlets, and huge investment in new public realm will deliver a high-quality lifestyle for its residents.”

He said that it will also ensure much-needed, world-class connectivity, which the firm sees as an integral part of ‘the wider Liverpool waters parkland pedestrian flow’ that is anticipated.

“We hope this scheme acts as both a major catalyst and benchmark for future development within the area,” Malouf added.

The residential element of the scheme proposes a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments designed to attract occupiers ranging from professionals to young families, with the aim of creating a ‘vibrant new neighbourhood within a tranquil waterfront setting’. 

In order to cut net carbon emissions from the scheme, each apartment will feature power usage monitoring and solar panels installed in common areas, while the developer also aims to encourage the use of electric cars, with up to 20 EV charging stations to cater for the government’s 2030 electrical vehicle initiative.  

The commercial units, meanwhile, would seek to attract a range of occupiers including hairdressers, beauty salons, delicatessens with indoor/outdoor dining, bike rental and a kayak store, with other retail outlets that purely serve and benefit all residents. 

The scheme’s proposed new public spaces include an active waterfront, marina floating pontoon, a suspended six-metre-wide cathedral-style bridge bordering the river canal for pedestrian and bike access, rooftop gardens and leisure space for alfresco dining.

Romal Capital also says that substantial investment will be made in high-quality and innovative public realm, with a new cultural square to be used for market days, music and entertainment.

The new public spaces are designed to lend themselves to ‘hybrid living, working and learning environments’ in a post-Covid-19 world. 

The new neighbourhood, along with the regeneration of Central Docks and the wider Liverpool Waters area, is set to bring much-needed economic growth and new job creation to the area, extending the prosperity of the city northwards. 

“The economy of Liverpool, and in particular North Liverpool, needs to grow,” Malouf said. “The regeneration of this site and the entire waterfront will play an important part in delivering much-needed growth.”

He concluded: “We have seen regeneration in other areas such as the Knowledge Quarter in the east and the Baltic Triangle just south of the city centre, and we now need activity that will expand the prosperity of Liverpool northwards. New high-quality homes on this brownfield site means new jobs, greater investment and ultimately more people to enjoy this waterfront location.”

Proposals for major Sheffield BTR scheme submitted

Plans have been submitted for a ‘gateway’ 336-apartment Build to Rent (BTR) scheme on the edge of Sheffield city centre.

UK residential and commercial property developer Godwin Developments last week put forward the plans for the project located on the corner of Farm Road and Queens Road, and within walking distance to Sheffield train station.

The development - named The Meridian - proposes the creation of one, two and three-bedroom modern open-plan apartments, 94 of which will include private balconies.

The contemporary 23-storey building will incorporate a ‘substantial amount’ of flexible ground floor space to provide residents’ facilities such as a concierge reception, co-working spaces, residents’ lounge and a gym, as well as extensive cycle storage and car parking.

In addition, it is set to feature a landscaped roof garden available exclusively to residents and be complemented by a new external plaza fronting onto Queens’ Road.

A major residential development in the Sheffield Midland Station and Sheaf Valley Development Masterplan, The Meridian is aiming to contribute significantly to the housing requirements of central Sheffield.

The scheme is also aiming to support the regeneration of this ‘important part of the city’, by helping to improve public spaces through landscaping and design, as well as attracting significant economic, social and environmental benefits to Sheffield and promoting its reputation as a leading national destination.

“We are really pleased to have reached this key milestone in the delivery of our ambitious BTR scheme in Sheffield,” James Mulcare, head of residential capital markets at Godwin Developments, said.

“By understanding and delivering to residents’ aspirations, we are seeking to create highly desirable Build to Rent schemes across key UK regional markets - building homes in both urban and suburban hotspots and generating positive outcomes for investors, local communities and economies alike.”

The Meridian will redevelop a prominently located 1.1-acre brownfield site, which has been vacant for many years. The scheme, once completed, will be situated just a five-minute walk from Sheffield’s Midland Station and a ten-minute walk from the city centre, including Sheffield’s main shopping and entertainment districts, with parks, outdoor spaces and both universities also nearby.

Currently, the area is easily accessible by road and public transport, with proposed walking, cycling and tram routes expected to enhance sustainable mobility in the near-term.

Ketan Patel, senior development manager at Godwin Developments, said: “We have worked closely with the planning department at Sheffield City Council since we acquired this highly prominent site last year. In doing so we believe we have created a building of distinction and sense of place that adds positively to the city’s skyline and sets the benchmark for revitalised public spaces.”

He added: “The Meridian will also be an environmentally responsible development, shaped with low energy design principles in mind and supported by a range of strategies to naturally reduce its carbon footprint over time.”

He said the proposal for the scheme had been prepared by local architects Bond Bryan, whose ‘vision and expertise’ have been essential in delivering a scheme of ‘exceptional standard’.

“Our extended leading consultant team include planning specialists Urbana Town Planning, cost advisors Rider Levett Bucknall and engineers HSP Consulting,” Patel said.

Tomasz Romaniewicz, an associate at Bond Bryan, commented: “We are delighted to be supporting Godwin Developments in preparing the design for The Meridian in what will be a contemporary and robust BTR product for the Sheffield market - and one which supports and promotes a new lifestyle choice.

“The resilience of BTR has been highlighted during the pandemic. With UK investment hitting a new record high in 2020, The Meridian will undoubtedly form an essential component within the next chapter of the Sheffield City Centre.”

The latest submission follows Godwin’s recent planning success for a suburban BTR scheme in Doncaster, which is set to see the creation of 60 BTR homes. The developer has also secured planning approval for two residential schemes in Nottingham which will provide 102 family homes.

Northampton shoe factory turned into housing

A ‘hard-fought’ shoe factory conversion is finally launching onto the Northampton property market. The plans to build 68 apartments within a converted shoe factory in the home of shoes has seen construction finally getting underway after an extended period of planning permission was granted at the end of 2019.

The new homes in Northampton, a town built on the shoemaking industry and the setting for the much-loved film and West End musical Kinky Boots, are being built in what is one of the most disrupted and economically difficult periods in recent memory, due to the pandemic.

The Barker Buildings, a previously dilapidated and derelict industrial building which was attracting antisocial behaviour and causing safety hazards, is now taking the shape of ‘a stylish and bustling apartment building’ with private, gated car parking and a communal courtyard area overlooking Dallington Brook.

The former shoe factory, in a town whose shoemaking heritage dates back more than 900 years, has seen its roof raised to create ‘spectacular’ ceiling heights, and replaced with fresh slates.

The main feature of the apartments is the floor-to-ceiling windows, which flood the homes with natural light. The focus has also been on respectful regeneration, with many of the original characteristics of the building’s facade having been retained.

Off-plan sales for the studio, one and two-bed flats have already commenced in anticipation of a fully-furnished marketing suite being launched in May to welcome potential purchasers. It’s expected that the new homes will be ready for occupation before the year is out.

The developer behind the scheme says the timing is apt for these apartments to hit the market, with development continuing to excel in and around Northampton’s town centre. There is currently high demand from investors looking to benefit from the stamp duty holiday and properties with good transport links to London and Birmingham. The historic town is situated pretty much half-way between the capital and Nottingham, east of Birmingham and south of Leicester.

First-time buyers, meanwhile, are set to have a greater choice of low-deposit mortgages from April when the government’s 95% mortgage guarantee scheme is launched, while Help to Buy will continue to be available for first-time buyers – with regional price caps – from April until March 2023. Twin demand from investors and first-time buyers, amongst others, is helping to keep demand buoyant in this part of the East Midlands, despite the challenges posed by Covid.

Apartments are now being marketed to both homeowners and investors alike, with unit prices starting from £120,000 and ‘excellent rental returns’ said to be on offer. Interest can be registered directly with local sales agent, Edward Knight, at barkerbuildings@edwardknight.co.uk.

Homegrown Property Development, a London-based property developer, is behind The Barker Buildings scheme on Countess Road and the project was able to continue to progress despite the issues of the last year.

A spokesperson from the developer said: The Barker Buildings caters towards the more affordable end of the housing market and our hope is that it offers a cool and contemporary living opportunity to young professionals, couples and families living and working in Northampton.”

Edward Knight added: “Over the past few years Northampton has seen some of the most major regeneration in its history and the Barker Buildings will be a wonderful addition to the town.

The well-thought-out design of this development feels very local and relevant. Most importantly, the development has retained the best of the past to benefit the future”.

You can find out more here and see the development's progress via Instagram here.

Unite Students opens new £82.5m development in Manchester

The UK’s largest supplier of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) has opened its newest development in Manchester. 

Constructed on the site of a former garage and music venue, Artisan Heights is the latest scheme from Unite Students and provides a home for 603 students. It’s located within walking distance of both Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester.

The £82.5 million development in New Wakefield Street is a 32-storey tower block and sits adjacent to the River Medlock. It benefits from panoramic views of the city and, on a clear day, across the Peak District from the top floors.

Facilities in the new building include two common rooms with study areas, a cinema room, meeting rooms, karaoke room, tea and coffee stations, laundry, bike store, and games areas.

The design aims for a contemporary look which is sensitive to the surrounding area, with the glazed cut-out features which can be seen on alternating corners at the top of the building and an anodised metal façade.

What’s more, the development has achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating – an international standard certifying the sustainability of buildings and infrastructure projects - and benefits from a green roof on level five made up of a natural habitat to encourage insects and wildlife.

The team had to overcome several challenges during construction, which made completing this development one of Unite Students’ most challenging to date. Ground contamination, archaeological finds, abandoned culverts, and the discovery of a well were just some of the challenges faced.

Further to this, the team had to overcome the complexities arising from the unprecedented impact brought about by both Brexit and Covid-19. Challenges emanating as a result of this included material shortages, ensuring a Covid-safe working environment and the resulting reduced numbers of operatives who could safely work on site.

“It’s with great pride that we are able to open the doors of this fantastic building to students, especially in these uncertain times. The building sets a new standard of quality across the Unite Students portfolio,” Luke Brooker, project development manager at Unite Students, said.

Matthew Loughlin, group development director at Unite Students, added: “This exciting new development is testament to the hard work displayed by staff and contractors to overcome some unique challenges. The development has been one of our most challenging to date.”

“The combined effort allows us to bring the highest-quality accommodation to the area, along with providing studio flats and cluster bedrooms specifically designed for students. Those living with us will benefit from having on-site support services. The development also provides a number of communal facilities in a highly sought-after area of the city.”


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