The UK’s ‘second city’ takes centre stage as renewed focus on the Midlands Engine and HS2 spurs growth in Birmingham. As our Birmingham office enhances its architectural and M&E engineering offerings, we take a look at the expansion of our services in the region.
Chartered architect Tim Chandler joined the team earlier this year and is making excellent headway in both championing design and leading the Birmingham architectural services offering. Tim brings a broad range of experience to the practice and boasts a background in social housing, care homes, office refurbishments and complex mixed-use schemes, amongst others. As a former archaeologist, he is experienced in works to listed buildings and ecclesiastical properties, and has designed over 20 churches. As lead of our architectural services in Birmingham, an essential part of Tim’s role is reinforcing the cohesion between our various design disciplines across our six offices.
The growth of our services continues as we move forward with plans to establish a mechanical and electrical engineering consultancy base within the Midlands office. This will fill a gap in the local marketplace and will work in tandem with our growing Cambridge-based mechanical and electrical consultancy team and our firmly established Kent and London-based teams.
Expansion and construction
Our Birmingham office continues to enjoy a steady stream of projects within its core disciplines of building surveying, architecture, cost consultancy, project management, and health and safety.
Across the construction industry, questions of quality (or lack thereof) have come to the forefront. We are securing a growing number of expert witness appointments across various commercial and residential projects as clients understand the value of these independent reviews of quality and workmanship.
Within the commercial sector, the downturn in high street retail is contrasted by a gentle uplift in activity in the convenience store sector. There is also a continued rationalisation of existing office accommodation as more organisations adopt remote and agile working. In some instances, this has led to wholesale disposal of surplus office space, and this in turn has resulted in a high volume of dilapidations enquiries.
We have also noted a steady rise in new housing projects, with an increasing proportion of Section 106 contracts as affordable housing rises to the top of the agenda. In keeping with the drive to better utilise existing spaces, we have also seen an upturn in clients looking to transform under-utilised garage sites.
There is sustained demand for new housing, despite uncertainties in the economy, and our housing clients are resilient in their approach. The increased appetite from local authorities to both grow their stock and move towards council-developed housing was evident at a recent Housing Forum panel which Neil Hebberts, Head of our Birmingham office, presented at.
The Midlands Engine… and train
In the Midlands and northern regions, there is a mood of cautious optimism with an uplift in both confidence and activity in the sectors in which we operate. The ‘Midlands Engine’ initiative has seen a flurry of construction activity centred on the City of Birmingham, although this targeted growth has yet to fully reach the surrounding regions.
The HS2 continues to encounter stumbling blocks and recent developments point to the possible overturn of proposed plans. While this may cause Birmingham’s upward trajectory to falter, the ‘hype’ surrounding the HS2 has already had a positive impact on the region, entrenching Birmingham as a viable business and property alternative to London.
As with all regions, the outlook for Brexit is uncertain, with each configuration of the UK’s withdrawal opening different doors and market moods. However, we should be encouraged by the on-going resilience shown by the construction industry, as has been borne out over the last several years.
Overall, we continue looking forward, positively, towards an interesting period which will provide not only challenges but also opportunities to rise to those challenges.
For more information on our Birmingham office and its services, please contact Neil Hebberts.