Companies looking for space along the M42 corridor are already starting to factor the impact of HS2 into their calculations, according to a Birmingham property agent.
KWB’s head of office agency, Malcolm Jones, says inquiries about the availability of buildings which could be used as corporate headquarters are now including questions about HS2, and the giant Interchange station complex near the NEC.
“I was slightly surprised on the first occasion, as you’d expect potential occupiers and their agents to focus more on the basics, such as the rent, the quality of the refurb, the fit-out, and the number of parking spaces,” he admits.
“However, it makes sense. If you’re looking to sign a lease for (say) the next ten years, you should be thinking about major changes to nearby infrastructure. We saw a similar effect in the city centre when the Midland Metro began expanding, and there was a premium for locations near to the proposed stops.”
Jones believes the catalyst for the recent upsurge in interest was two-fold; the granting of planning permission by Solihull Borough Council for Interchange, and the launch of public consultation for the £3bn mixed-use scheme, Arden Cross, which will be ‘wrapped around’ the HS2 station.
The development partnership behind the proposals envisage the creation of 27,000 jobs and the delivery of six million sq ft of employment space, across almost 350 acres.
“Inevitably, much of the focus so far has been on HS2 and Interchange, but Arden Cross will have a huge impact on the regional economy. It’s been described as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a destination of international scale, and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration,” says Jones.
“The other day I was discussing a property on our books (Building 2010, on the Meriden Business Park) and was asked how far Meriden was from Interchange. It’s just over 15,000 sq ft, and is likely to go as a corporate HQ, but it shows that these HS2-related schemes really are catching people’s attention.
”There is already significant pent-up demand for HQ-style office space right along the M42 corridor, and as both Interchange and Arden Cross progress, I’m absolutely sure that will increase.”