Essex Chronicle, Press release


NEW APARTMENTS: Take a look inside the stylish show apartment at Essex Riverside STYLISH: First show apartment is now open for viewings at Century Tower, Essex Riverside Photos: courtesy of Chris Rushton - Essex Chronicle Apartments near completion at £85m scheme VIEW: Read more

Enterprise zones don’t have to be a 1980s rerun, says Steven Byrne


28 April 2011 | By Steven Byrne MAN IN THE MIDLANDS I’m amazed the response has been so muted. We should be acting as cheerleaders for the initiative and praise what is a bold step forward – and then sit down Read more

Go For Green


Jun 24 2008 By Andrew Cowen Published in the Birmingham Post These are interesting times to be working in the building development business. With the green agenda at the heart of society, sustainability is driving all new projects. Nowhere is this more Read more

MCD bats off rioters


19 August 2011 All the team at MCD Developments wanted last Tuesday was to drink champagne, enjoy the Lord’s Taverners pre-test dinner, and celebrate the launch of their £32m West Stand at Edgbaston for Warwickshire County Cricket Club But before they Read more

Birmingham’s rough diamond


By Sean McAllister, 3rd November 2006 Sean McAllister reviews new development in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter It may be a cliche, but the Jewellery Quarter really is Birmingham’s hidden treasure. A conservation area covering 265 acres (107 ha) with a 250-year history and Read more

Essex Chronicle, Press release

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NEW APARTMENTS: Take a look inside the stylish show apartment at Essex Riverside
essex-flat-01
essex-flat-02
STYLISH: First show apartment is now open for viewings at Century Tower, Essex Riverside
Photos: courtesy of Chris Rushton – Essex Chronicle


Apartments near completion at £85m scheme
essex-flat-03
VIEW: Century Tower has changed the skyline from Central Park
By Chris Dyer
christopher.dyer@essexchronicle.co.uk

THIS is the first look inside one of 362 new apartments overlooking Essex Cricket Club’s County Ground in Chelmsford.
    There will be four towers in New Writtle Street when the £85 million complex is eventually complete, but the first tower, Century Tower, is just months from being

finished.
    “It’s wonderful to see a fantastic product being completed,” said Liz Allister; marketing director of MCD, the Birmingham-based developer.
    Planning for the multi-million pound development began nearly eight years ago and will include 15,000 sq ft of retail and leisure facilities surrounding a new public piazza area.
    A new pedestrian bridge
across the River Can will also be built, giving improved routes through to Central Park, the city centre and High Chelmer shopping centre.
    Part of the development will include 65,000 sq ft of space for cricket club members and visitors to enjoy, including a media centre, a pavilion and conferencing facilities, increasing the ground’s capacity from 4,500 to 8,000 seats.
    Liz added: “It’s really calming being here.”     The apartments are ideal for commuters who work in London but want to live 31 minutes on the train outside the capital. Also first time buyers down sizers and for a stylish pieda-terre.
    Liz Allister added: “Chelmsford is really the next sensible option outside of London – you’ve got the countryside, it’s so quiet here
and there’s the beautiful park nearby. Also there’s some great schools in this area, there’s a lot of new shops being built and a lot of businesses around.”
    Century Tower only has three apartments unsold, with many homes snapped up in the remaining three towers.
    Century tower is due to be completed by September 2015.

Enterprise zones don’t have to be a 1980s rerun, says Steven Byrne

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28 April 2011 | By Steven Byrne

MAN IN THE MIDLANDS

Steven Byrne - Managing Director MCD

I’m amazed the response has been so muted. We should be acting as cheerleaders for the initiative and praise what is a bold step forward – and then sit down with the government to help make sure it gets the detail right.

If lessons are learned – and I am optimistic they will be – there is no reason why enterprise zones should not make a significant contribution to economic growth.

There are probably three key considerations:

Pick the right areas and focus Choose sites with potential, not necessarily the most deprived and difficult to develop. No sensible business will want to locate somewhere with no compelling economic logic or potential business advantage.

For example, a prime candidate would be the Digbeth area. It is close enough to the services and infrastructure of Birmingham city centre, and has a compelling economic case for firms to locate there.

Alternatively, the M42 corridor south of Birmingham has national connectivity. Do not neglect the infrastructure links Superfast broadband connectivity is excellent. But, linking the enterprise zone into the wider locality and national community is crucial to avoid creating a stranglehold on the enterprise zone itself.

London’s Docklands, which is often held up as a shining example of what an enterprise zone can achieve, had several false dawns and ultimately required vastly improved infrastructure to link it to the city.

Be wary about displacement effects A lot of comment has focused on whether zones simply move economic activity and jobs around, rather than stimulate new growth. Tax breaks also need to be passed through to the company, rather than “creamed off” by the property owner in the form of higher rents.

In the past, it was not unknown for landlords to set rents at a level just below the combined rent and rate figure for comparable premises outside the zone. This is not a 1980s revival show.

It should be seen as an exciting new opportunity, and we should all get behind the plans for enterprise zones and make them work.

Steven Byrne is chief executive of Birmingham-based MCD Developments

This article was published in propertyweek.com

 


Go For Green

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Jun 24 2008 By Andrew Cowen

Published in the Birmingham Post

These are interesting times to be working in the building development business. With the green agenda at the heart of society, sustainability is driving all new projects.

Nowhere is this more keenly felt than in the urban regeneration field and, in Birmingham, it’s big news.

City living is a well-established concept and the idea has come a long way since its early days around the canal basin.

New legislation states that homes must be carbon zero by the year 2016, although some forward-thinking companies are well ahead of that deadline.

Go For Green

The key-word is sustainability, although this concept is huge and works on many levels. It’s a holistic approach to development but, being in such a competitive industry, it also has to be, first and formost, profitable.

To achieve this, developers must incorporate many aspects from the very inception of a project and careful planning is vital if targets are to be met.

Steven Byrne is chief executive of MCD Developments, one of the leading companies operating in the urban regeneration field.

MCD is behind some of the Midlands’ most striking projects, including Brindley House, Derwent Foundry and Water Street in Birmingham, and Earlsdon Park in Coventry.

The company also is spearheading the rebirth of Essex County Cricket Ground in Chelmsford.

Steven admits there’s no easy definition of sustainability as, by its very nature, it’s a site-specific concept, although certain principles are common with all projects.

“It’s always the first consideration when you start a project,” he says.

“There are things we always take into account when tackling sustainability. Any project must be judged in terms of its longevity and the affects on the local community, for example.

“We always look at the life cycle of a building and its impact on a wider level, internationally and globally. This means thinking about where you source your materials, making sure they can be replenished locally so that the distance they are transported is as small as possible.

“We consider longevity and whether the building is fit for purpose for its life-cycle. Maintenance and repair are also vital.

“There is no quick fix and, in this business, you really do reap what you sow.”

For MCD who specialise in big schemes, this means thinking big. For example, work is now underway on the £110 million redevelopment of the former City College Site at the Butts in Coventry.

The finished article will provide 500 apartments, commercial space, leisure facilities and cafe bars.

How sensitive approach to regeneration brings benefits for whole townFrom page 35

In a major coup for Coventry, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority will relocate from London to move into the development, creating 500 new jobs.

This is a perfect example of sustainability on a human scale.

The former college building dates back to 1935. In order to further nest the development in its location, MCD is also restoring the 650-seat art deco Butts Theatre and creating a piazza around it.

The project has been awarded a Breeam excellent rating of 78 per cent. This qualification marks a building on several green criteria, including energy efficiency and accessibility by public transport.

“Everything we do is bespoke and we always push our own boundaries in order to innovate,” explains Mr Byrne.

Another MCD project is the redevelopment of Riverside Square in Bedford, a typically ambitious scheme that bears all the trademarks of the company.

Like many of MCD’s developments, Riverside Square is close to water but also in the heart of the town centre.

It will include 149 residential apartments and 25,000 sq ft of retail space on the ground floor.

A pedestrian bridge will improve access to the town centre, a benefit for the whole of Bedford. It’s also just five-minute walk from the main railway station.

“This is an iconic potentially multi-award-winning project and shows how sensitive regeneration can bring benefits for the whole town,” says Mr Byrne.

“For me, it represents Bedford’s battle against Milton Keynes.”

Mr Byrne is a strong believer in the concept of city living but he’s adamant that a development has to be done properly in order to achieve.

“Like anywhere else, there has to be a sense of community,” he explains.

“You have neighbours and these have to be a consideration. City living will work as long as people want to live in a close community.

“This does not necessarily mean only suitable for the young – many of our buyers are retired. It means you have to be there rather than in a rural idyll.

“It’s not for everybody and probably suits young people better.”

Of course, the concept of city living is not a new one. As the old back-to-backs in Birmingham prove, many used to live and work in the city.

“What happened in many areas is that the bombing of our cities in the Second World War destroyed so much and when it came to rebuilding we didn’t put the residential element back in,” explains Mr Byrne.

“That’s changing now but there’s still a lot of work to be done. The infrastructure needs to be enhanced with things like street markets, pharmacies and starter units of good quality.

“One of the most important things we do and something that is not always easy to get right, is to create a community where there wasn’t previously one.

“As long as you get that right, you are creating sustainability.

“If you create a sense of belonging, you create a sense of pride and that is contagious. You can do all the analysis you want, but if you don’t achieve this, you’ve failed.”


MCD bats off rioters

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19 August 2011

All the team at MCD Developments wanted last Tuesday was to drink champagne, enjoy the Lord’s Taverners pre-test dinner, and celebrate the launch of their £32m West Stand at Edgbaston for Warwickshire County Cricket Club

But before they prepared to tuck into an Indian supper, the developer had to tackle to rioters armed with baseball, rather than cricket bats. Advisers had recommended MCD’s plush offices in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter be protected against rioters, who swept through Brum’s streets on 9 August.

Steel doors and security guards were put in place and, luckily for MCD, it was the Indian cricket team that was smashed to pieces, not its Birmingham portfolio.

This article was published in propertyweek.com


Birmingham’s rough diamond

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By Sean McAllister, 3rd November 2006

Sean McAllister reviews new development in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter

It may be a cliche, but the Jewellery Quarter really is Birmingham’s hidden treasure.

A conservation area covering 265 acres (107 ha) with a 250-year history and containing 200 listed buildings, the quarter is gradually becoming gentrified with five independent art galleries, two museums and many of Birmingham’s best restaurants and bars.

However, the Jewellery Quarter is far from being a polished gem. It is a regeneration zone that is very much a work in progress, and has around 100 derelict buildings and various sites crying out for development. It is also home to one of the city’s most controversial development sites: the Ludgate Hill site.

Developers such as MCD Developments and Chord Developments, based within the quarter, have already spotted the potential and in the last five years developed mixed-use schemes worth more than £250m. Such development has helped turn the quarter into an up-and-coming area popular with residents, creative businesses and high-end bars and restaurants, which still offers investors and developers plenty of opportunity.

Andy Munro, operations director at the Jewellery Quarter Regeneration Partnership, describes the change: ‘Five years ago you could only get a bacon butty in the Jewellery Quarter, and they looked at you funny if you asked for a salad. Now, it’s turned into a cappuccino society and businesses like this ambience.’

The quarter has arguably more history and character than any other party of Birmingham. First famous for toys, then buckles, until shoelacing killed off the industry, the area finally became the home of jewellery manufacturing during the 1700s. The industry grew in importance and many of the buildings there today are from its glory days in the 18th and 19th centuries. But industrial use, bomb damage in World War II and a lack of investment all contributed to a decline in the fabric of the area.

The quarter remains an important centre for the jewellery trade. There are between 400 and 500 businesses in the area linked to the industry – including 100 jewellery retailers – and it makes 40% of all the jewellery manufactured in the UK.

A renaissance in the area has seen it become a thriving area for creative support businesses, such as PR and media firms, software companies, developers, including Stoford Developments, and architectural practices – half of all the city’s architectural firms are housed in the quarter.

Even Arts Council England, which will relocate from London, has shortlisted properties solely in the quarter with criteria for a freehold building of around 10,000 sq ft (930 sq m).

‘Its historical nature means it has a lot of small buildings,’ says Philippa Pickavance, partner at Drivers Jonas. ‘This makes it easier for small businesses to afford their own premises instead of going to the traditional core around Colmore Row where they would have to rent 2,000 sq ft (186 sq m) on part of a floor.’

Rents in the quarter are also lower – typically £15/sq ft (£161.46/sq m) but as high as £19/sq ft (£204.52/sq m) – compared with prime rents on Colmore Row of £30/sq ft (£322.92/sq m) or £21-24/sq ft (£226-£258/sq m) on the sides street off Colmore Row.

‘The Jewellery Quarter is perfect for businesses like ours,’ says Claire Barker, director at PR firm Kinetic Communications, which is based at Tenby Street. ‘It’s in the city centre with a B1 postcode, yet has relatively quick access and exit to city limits owing to its proximity to the ring road.’

It is this enthusiasm from businesses as well as residents that provides plenty of development opportunities. MCD has invested between £140m and £180m in the quarter over the last five years – a figure that managing director Steven Byrne says could rise to £300m because of the huge potential he sees.

Chord is also committed to the area, and has three mixed-use developments in progress. Since 2000, it has developed schemes worth about £100m. ‘There’s nowhere like it and I like the fact that it’s cut off from the city. Other areas don’t have the same inherent character or community spirit,’ says director Geoff Shuttleworth. He believes that 60% of Chord’s future activity will occur in the area.

Admiration for the area is not limited to developers located in the vicinity. ‘It’s an emerging business location and I like it,’ says Mark Robinson, development director at Chase Midland. ‘In London you’ve got areas like Camden and Clerkenwell that have a more relaxed business environment and offer smaller offices, which is something that the Jewellery Quarter provides Birmingham.’

But Byrne believes the quarter is still undersold as a location and has more to offer than higher-profile areas such as Eastside. ‘Eastside is soulless and it will take that area more than a decade to create a soul. The Jewellery Quarter already has a soul but it doesn’t have the profile,’ he says.

That is likely to change with several planned high-profile developments (see map, previous page). MCD is converting Brindley House – an empty 140,000 sq ft (13,000 sq m) 1970s office block on Newhall Street – into a £37m scheme with 182 flats.

Across the road, a joint development between RO Developments and St Bernards Property has started developing a £63m mixed-use scheme called Newhall Square on the former site of Birmingham’s science museum. Due for a phased completion between 2008 and 2010, it will comprise 30,000 sq ft (2,790 sq m) of offices, galleries and work studios; 30,000 sq ft (2,790 sq m) of retail, cafes and bars; a 100-bedroom hotel; as well as 234 flats surrounding a new public square.

The Jewellery Quarter already has a soul but it doesn’t have the profile

Steven Byrne, MCD

Chris Bond, chief executive of RO St Bernards, says the Jewellery Quarter is a perfect location for mixed-use development.

‘It has a good residential environment – close to the city centre with frontages on to the canals – that is already proven. Plus it’s attractive to the “brass plate set” such as quantity surveyors, lawyers, engineers and architects, so it has a good balance.’

Chord’s current largest scheme is St Paul’s Place. Due for completion next summer, the £35m scheme will have 26,500 sq ft (2,460 sq m) of office space for sale at £250/sq ft (£2,691/sq m) and 176 flats behind the red brick facade of the former factory of buckle maker Thomas Walker.

Conservation piece

But in the past year, larger developers have paid greater attention to the quarter. The main interest has surrounded the Ludgate Hill site – a 2 acre (0.8 ha) surface car park that fronts on to Great Charles Street ring road. Amec was appointed to regenerate the site and incorporate a new coach station back in 1998, but earlier this year the council remarketed the site, receiving bids of between £6m and £24m.

HBG fended off bids from the likes of Castlemore, Sandpiper Estates, Abstract Land and Chase Midland. However in August, HBG’s Dutch parent Royal BAM Group forced a U-turn on the decision.

Abstract Land, Dandara, Sandpiper Estates and Stoford Developments have resubmitted bids for the site. A decision is expected next month.

The site is intended to be a new gateway to the Jewellery Quarter from the city centre. The only access is by a road crossing at Newhall Street and a decrepit footbridge that links Church Street to the Ludgate Hill site. Any new development will have to include a new connection, which would link it to the Snow Hill development and open it to the city core.

‘Connectivity is key,’ says Abstract Land director James Howarth. ‘The bid with the best connectivity to the city core is most likely to win because you’ve got to draw people over the ring road and bring people to the new restaurants and bars.’

His proposed scheme features a public square to give people ‘a sense of arrival’ when they cross to the Jewellery Quarter from the city centre.

But development in the quarter is not straightforward. Developers must adhere to the quarter’s design guide to ensure new buildings fit with the local character, while a conservation and management plan forbids residential development in a designated employment area.

Local engineering company AE Harris & Co, located on Northwood Street, encountered this problem. It wants to downsize and relocate outside the quarter and finance the move by redeveloping its site. It submitted an outline application for a 215,000 sq ft (20,000 sq m) mixed-use scheme with 105,000 sq ft (9,625 sq m) of offices, 18,500 sq ft (1,725 sq m) of retail and 95,540 sq ft (8,875 sq m) residential, but the plans were rejected last month because of the residential content.

The quarter is not all about offices and residential. Retail is growing in importance to support the area’s growing residential and business community. MCD is due to complete the refurbishment and recladding of the Chamberlain Building in January. Tesco Express, Subway and William Hill have signed up for the ground-floor retail space.

‘Now Tesco is moving here, we are in a position to attract the attention of larger retail investors,’ says Philip Jackson, director at niche agent Maguire Jackson. ‘Ten years ago it was too specialised for many non-jewellery retailers.’

Clive Dutton, director of planning and regeneration at Birmingham City Council, says the council wants to see the quarter become the city’s creative village by 2010. ‘We want to create the right conditions to grow it into a honeypot for creative businesses,’ he says.

‘It means safeguarding the jewellery-related activities, but also encouraging more creative industries to locate to the area.’

The Jewellery Quarter remains a rough diamond, but with the proposed development and the rising interest in the area, it has the potential to become the Tiffany of regeneration zones. While seeking further redevelopment and connectivity improvements, planners and developers must be careful not to destroy its unique selling points – its character, charm and community spirit – and risk turning it into another Ratner-esque district.

This article can be read at properyweek.com


MCD Awards
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Green Apple Built Environment and Architectural Heritage

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King Edwards Award

  • 2006
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Islington Gates

  • 2006
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St Martins Gate

  • 2007
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Brindley House

  • 2007
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Derwent Foundry

  • 2007
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West Midlands Insider Property Awards – Regeneration Project of the year

  • 2005
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West Midlands Insider Property Awards – Creative Land Development Award

  • 2002
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Birmingham Post and Mail House Design Awards

  • 2001
  • 2003
  • 2005
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What House? Awards – Best Brownfield Development Bronze Award

  • 2001
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REGENWM Vision for Placemaking – Highly commended for Brindley House

  • 2007
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