Opinion: Tech hubs, new transport, and space near the city centre – why Birmingham is a smart place to buy property

Marcus Claridge
A wintry Birmingham scene

Birmingham continues to hit the headlines at the moment, with several factors converging to make investment in residential property particularly attractive right now in the UK’s second largest city.

Everyone’s heard of the HS2 transport infrastructure, which is lined up to connect the city to London in 49 minutes. But HS2 also shifts the conceptual geography of the whole of the UK in favour of Birmingham, with journey times to cities including Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow significantly reduced. This is attractive to residents but also to global business, via Birmingham’s international airport.

Compared to London with its well-documented undersupply of suitable housing, Birmingham is now looking like a very good option to young families and professionals. The balance is poised in the city between affordability, accessibility and the all-important factor of quality of life. Our team is currently designing apartments at Timber Yard, a scheme for Galliard Homes and Apsley House Capital, just 10 minutes’ walk from New Street – the first phase sold out off-plan in days.

In my opinion, this is what’s leading some commentators to say that Birmingham as a city will rival London in under 10 years

Birmingham now has more capital committed to its infrastructure projects than any other European city, with major transformational developments like Smithfield Markets already underway. The 2022 Commonwealth Games is also driving regeneration, investment and growth. On the basis of numbers alone, the city is looking good.

But there’s also an energy to the city – it’s the youngest city in Europe, with more than 40 per cent of its population under the age of 25, and Birmingham has topped the regional leagues for business start ups for several years in a row. It’s a young, digital city with the wind in its sails.

It’s not simply about the sums adding up and the geography making sense. It’s about the quality and vision of the regeneration taking place. In my opinion, this is what’s leading some commentators to say that Birmingham as a city will rival London in under 10 years.

What the regeneration of Birmingham is focusing on is people – the retention rate for students in the city is a good indicator of this. The city planning authority knows Birmingham needs good design and well-considered environments to attract the talent it needs, and, in my opinion, they’re doing a good job.

Opportunity still exists in Birmingham for well-designed residential development at the scale of the community, close to the city centre and integrated into the city’s fine built heritage of canal infrastructure. We’re currently masterplanning a new quarter called Soho Loop, again for Galliard and Apsley, that will bring 770 homes to a publicly accessible, canal-side site that’s currently derelict, but only a mile from the city centre.

It’s unusual in that it takes a long view of residential placemaking: one bed apartments for young professionals will sit alongside larger family-size houses to expand into, and apartments suited to downsizing. Think about such a mixed generation development existing in London. That’s why I think Birmingham will prove a refreshing alternative to the Big Smoke.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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