GVA

New appointments and promotions strengthen GVA in Scotland

Mark Currie

GVA has continued its plans for growth in Scotland with the announcement of key appointments and promotions across several of its teams.

Mark Currie has been appointed a Director in the Corporate Solutions team and will provide property portfolio advice to the firm’s corporate clients.

Mark has over 20 years’ corporate real estate and fund management experience and previously worked with Cushman & Wakefield, RBS and Aberdeen Asset Management. He previously managed one of the UK’s largest corporate real estate portfolios for RBS.

Meanwhile the Scottish business space team is going from strength to strength with 3 new appointments.

Michael Facenna has been appointed as an Associate in Glasgow, joining from Co-Star Group and will specialise on both landlord and tenant work in the office sector.

In Edinburgh, Matthew Moggach will be joining the team as a Senior Surveyor in May from Ryden, where he was based in their Dundee office. Matthew will focus on business space agency advice in the East of Scotland. The team is further boosted by the addition of Georgina Dent as an Assistant Graduate Surveyor in Edinburgh. Georgina studied Urban Planning and Property Development at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University.

GVA has also promoted Gavin Highgate and Kerry Maguire to Associate in their specialist Telecoms team and Valuation respectively.

Gavin joined the firm in July 2014 and has steadily built up the business with key telecoms providers. Kerry has been with GVA since October 2013 and is a leading expert on portfolio valuations for a variety of institutional clients.

Keith Aitken, regional senior director for GVA in Scotland, said: “GVA in Scotland enjoyed an excellent year in 2017 with a significant increase in turnover and profit. We are delighted with these key appointments and promotions which together provide our clients with an excellent breadth of experience. We fully intend to build on our success and will continue to invest in the right people that can add to our business. In Glasgow we will soon showcase our offer from our new office scheduled to open in late May.”

‘Prime’ Glasgow residential development site sold on

GVA has announced the sale of a residential development site in the heart of Glasgow’s west end on behalf of a private client to Queensberry Properties Ltd.

The site has a detailed planning consent for 45 apartments and four townhouses and is located on Otago Lane, benefitting from an excellent outlook on the banks of the River Kelvin and is a short walk to both Glasgow University and Kelvin Bridge Underground Station on Great Western Road.

The purchaser, Queensberry Properties Ltd (QPL) is a joint venture between Cruden Homes (East) Ltd and Buccleuch Property.

Otago Lane will be the JV’s first residential development in Glasgow after a number of successful ventures In Edinburgh.

A spokesperson for QPL said: “This first site in Glasgow is a significant milestone for Queensberry. We have recently delivered some of Edinburgh’s most successful prime residential developments and look forward to bringing our expertise in innovative design and carefully considered, bespoke specification to the West. Otago Lane represents a fantastic opportunity in a unique and sought-after location and we look forward to bringing these exciting new properties to the residential market over the coming months.”

Over £100m transacted in Scotland’s student housing building sector in 2017

Work on Stirling’s first purpose built student accommodation development is due to commence in early 2018

Transactional activity in Scotland’s Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) topped £100 million in 2017 as applicant numbers increased for the fifth year in a row.

Figures produced for GVA’s Student Housing Review show that Aberdeen saw the country’s most activity with £51m transacted while £40m was transacted in Edinburgh, £10.75m in Glasgow and £2m in Stirling.

The rise in applicant numbers, a 2% year-on-year increase, includes a 4% growth in non-EU applicants, who now total 36,850 – the highest number recorded for this group. The report identifies the relative weakness of sterling as a significant factor in the strong appeal for foreign students.

The strength of the UK higher education system and rental growth outperforming inflation were key factors in the continuing robust performance of the sector nationally.

In 2017, Glasgow saw the second biggest increase in purpose built beds in the UK with a 16% rise and £10.75m transacted. Average rents in the city were £146 p/w, down 2.9% on the previous year. No new beds are currently under construction. Across the Central Belt, rents in Edinburgh were down 1.3% on the previous year at £147 p/w. £40m was transacted in the capital with 506 new beds currently under construction.

Aberdeen’s average rents were unchanged year-on-year at £141 p/w. There are 618 beds under construction. The city had the highest value of transactions of Scottish cities in 2017, with a total of £51m. Activity in Stirling accounted for £2m and the total value of transactions across the UK was £4 billion.

93 student studios are to be developed at Stanley Place in Edinburgh

University owned accommodation is still the most prevalent across the UK, accounting for 51.6% of the total. This is down on last year’s proportion, reflecting the fact the private sector added more beds over the course of the year.

En-suites and studios are by far the most prevalent in new developments, with the private sector delivering a disproportionately high number of studios. There are now just under 219,000 private purpose-built beds, representing a 9.2% increase on last year, compared to 1.7% for university owned stock.

Surveys suggest that applicants are placing increasing emphasis on the student experience and accommodation quality when choosing a university and it is now also a consideration in some university league tables. The report notes a lot of existing stock is in need of regeneration and partnerships can help deliver excellent results for both parties and address many of the development challenges.

Keith Aitken, regional senior director for GVA in Scotland, said: “The weakness of Sterling and the enduring reputation of our higher education institutions continues to make studying in Scotland attractive to overseas students. The value provided by the current exchange rate also means the student housing market appeals to investors at home and abroad.”

The current climate for UK construction is challenging, particularly following the liquidation of Carillion. The full implications for the contactor’s vast supply chain of 25,000-30,000 firms is yet to be seen.

Keith Aitken added: “Optimism is still high. There is still a structural under supply in PBSA at a national level and given the level of investor appetite for the sector, we expect strong development activity to continue for the foreseeable future.

“There are also considerable opportunities for investors to work with universities to improve or rebuild their existing accommodation. However, there may be an over-supply risk on studio apartments in some areas and this is something that needs to be closely monitored when assessing locations.”

Muir Group extends development activities into central Scotland

John Muir

Fife-based Muir Group has purchased the remaining development land at Glasgow Business Park in the largest commercial land deal in West Central Scotland over the past six months.

The 26 acres of development land front the M8 at Junction 9 and forms part of the 72 acre business park well known to commuters due to Andy Scott’s iconic Heavy Horse sculpture.

The land was acquired in an off-market deal from Glasgow Business Park.

Muir Group will construct speculative space later this year and will also pursue bespoke opportunities.

John Muir, Muir Group chairman, said “Glasgow Business Park offers an excellent development opportunity to bring new build, high quality industrial units to the market in a range of sizes.

“Muir Group has already successfully developed and constructed 13 buildings totalling over 525,000 sq ft of office and industrial space in Aberdeen. Glasgow Business Park provides us with a prime and highly visible development site in Central Scotland to continue this development and construction programme.

“The group is in a position to fund and develop units speculatively and we are aiming to deliver the first units in early 2019.”

Alan Gilkison of Ryden, which advised Muir Group on the purchase, said: “Our latest property market analysis shows the lack of availability of industrial units in prime areas is reaching critical levels resulting in rental growth for the best assets.”

Ryden and GVA have been retained as joint letting agents.

Consent granted for mixed-use quarter in central Glasgow

Planning permission has been granted for a new mixed-use quarter including 400 new homes in central Glasgow.

The masterplan for Central Quay, a seven-acre site on the western edge of Glasgow city centre, also includes over 300,000 sq. ft. of offices, a 150-bed hotel, food and retail units and an extensive public realm.

Central Quay is prominent from the Kingston Bridge and has been a brownfield site for several years. It is bounded by Anderston Station and the river Clyde and is owned and managed by Harbert Management Corporation (Europe) LLC and XLB Property. Both are advised by GVA and CBRE and the masterplan was designed by architects Keppie Design.

Tony Lawson of XLB said: “Central Quay is a significant site and its regeneration is long overdue. It will now provide a major new mixed-use quarter to the western edge of Glasgow City Centre close to the SSE Hydro, Scottish Exhibition Centre and major transport hubs.

“The masterplan is designed around a vibrant high-quality environment, providing new homes and offices plus supporting amenities. Harbert Management Corporation (Europe) LLC and XLB Property are in discussions with a major PRS developer to ‘pump prime’ the waterfront site. The first phase of development is expected to commence towards the end of 2018.”

Due to Central Quay’s location on the periphery of Glasgow city centre, the Grade-A office space will be available to pre-let at significantly less than city centre rents, which are now in excess of £30.00 per sq. ft. and reliant on refurbished stock with little speculative development in the pipeline and no new Grade A space with large floor plates anticipated in the city centre until 2021.

As well as the Central Quay masterplan, there is presently 30,000 sq. ft. of office space for rent at the adjacent 2 Central Quay.

GVA and PRSim to advise on new rental income guarantee scheme

A build to rent project is underway at Edinburgh's Fountainbridge

A build to rent project is underway at Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge

A strategic partnership has been appointed by Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) to advise on the Scottish Government’s landmark policy for supporting the emerging professionally managed Build-to-Rent (BTR) sector.

GVA and PRSim will join the Property Advisory Panel for the Rental Income Guarantee Scheme, which aims to unlock potential BTR developments with at least 30 units, through the mitigation of risk around the initial rent stabilisation period.

Through the fully integrated scheme, which was launched earlier this year, the Scottish Government will underwrite 50% of any shortfall in rental income that is between 75% and 95% of the agreed annual core rental income forecast (ARIF), the annual cost of which will be 1.22% of the ARIF.

In their advisory role, GVA and PRSim will jointly assess and report on an applicant’s ARIF in order to agree a benchmark for Scottish Government support, creating attractive investment opportunities that will facilitate the growth of BTR in Scotland as well as deliver much needed accommodation against a backdrop of a continued housing shortage.

In a recent research report into Scotland’s housing market undertaken by GVA and PRSim, it was revealed that there has been an increase in the proportion of 16-34 year olds privately renting from 16% in 1999 to 40% in 2016, driven by both difficulties getting on the housing ladder as well as a change in lifestyle and view on rented accommodation. The report discovered that 71% of Scots are content living in a rented home, with 82% of people believe renting a property best suits their lifestyle.

Barry White, chief executive of the Scottish Futures Trust, which manages the scheme, said: “RIGS has sent out a clear message which demonstrates the Scottish Government’s commitment to the Build to Rent sector as an important way to deliver much-needed quality housing.”

Alastair Carmichael at GVA added: “The Rental Income Guarantee Scheme is a breakthrough policy by the Scottish Government and a real milestone in the evolution of BTR in Scotland.  To have been appointed by the SFT in this nascent stage of our strategic partnership with PRSim is a strong endorsement not only of the strength of our combined offer, but also its uniqueness as we are the only true end-to-end experts operating a service in BTR. We look forward to developing this experience further through this innovative new Government policy and helping to deliver thousands of new homes to the Scottish market.”

Blog: Trams can keep Leith revitalisation on track

edintrams_elmrow_18thMay2017_smallerGVA’s Peter Fraser on why proposals to extend the tram service to Leith could see the area’s conversion into one of the premier places in Edinburgh to live, work and visit.

Other than the famous footballing rivalry between Hearts and Hibernian, you may struggle to find a more divisive subject in Edinburgh than the trams.

However, if done properly, plans to extend the tram service to Leith could be good news for the area as well as the city as a whole. The council has approved the outline business case for the extension and if it happens it could unlock Leith’s potential as a business destination.

Leith has undergone something of a revitalisation in the past few years and people have noticed. It’s been compared to London’s Shoreditch and named one of the trendiest places in the UK.

As well as range of stylish bars and restaurants popping up, Leith has also seen a surge in office take-up. It increased by over 35%, from 31,000 sq. ft. in 2015 to 49,185 sq. ft. in 2016 and this trend has continued this year. Businesses know amenities local to an office are important to attracting and retaining the best staff and Leith ticks those boxes.

Compared to the city centre office rents in Leith are much lower. A refurbished open plan space in Leith is around 40% cheaper than in the centre. Residential prices are also generally lower than across the rest of the city so it’s an attractive place to live and work.

So, how does the tram extension fit in to all this? To continue its resurgence and build on momentum to date, improving public transport to Leith (and, given population growth forecasts, Edinburgh) is essential. Creating ease of access from Leith, through the city centre and out to the airport will only increase the area’s appeal.

Those looking for office space will welcome Leith as an option. Edinburgh is like no other city when it comes to planning due to its UNESCO World Heritage Status, and rightly so. But we face a limited supply of office space in central Edinburgh and whilst the business parks in West Edinburgh are well established, they do not suit all occupiers so another urban business district is needed.

Locations like Leith, which has an abundance of brownfield sites and does not face the same planning restrictions, are essential to meet demand and must be used to address the shortfall.

Edinburgh has won plaudits as a hub for exciting tech firms but a shortage of new development stock will harm its ability to retain these and help new ones flourish. Many well-established tech firms started out in Leith and it retains an appeal for the sector. However, once businesses reach a particular size many find themselves driven to the centre to secure larger offices. Infrastructure development could help Leith retain start-ups or even bring back some that have moved.

We must fully consider the implications of building the tram extension and ensure the mistakes made last time are not repeated. But the extension could be the investment in Edinburgh’s infrastructure that simultaneously addresses the lack of office space, further modernises the city’s public transport network and completes Leith’s conversion into one of the premier places in Edinburgh to live, work and visit.

Falkirk Council launches Gateway development site

(from left): Ross Martin, chair of the British Waterways Trust; Jennifer Tempany, head of Business Development at Forth Valley College; Falkirk Council leader Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn; Keith Aitken, regional senior director of GVA; Douglas Duff, head of planning and economic development at Falkirk Council

(from left): Ross Martin, chair of the British Waterways Trust; Jennifer Tempany, head of Business Development at Forth Valley College; Falkirk Council leader Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn; Keith Aitken, regional senior director of GVA; Douglas Duff, head of planning and economic development at Falkirk Council

A suite of new marketing materials have been unveiled to help attract investment opportunities at the Falkirk Gateway development site.

Funded using Falkirk Council’s innovative Tax Incremental Funding (TIF) model, the Gateway is a project involving 150 acres of land.  Initial plans involve the formation of a new urban quarter, via £17 million of pump-priming investment.

A number of development sites and infrastructure projects fall under the Falkirk Gateway umbrella, including the state-of-the-art Falkirk Community Stadium and delivery of a new £83m STEM focussed Forth Valley College campus.

View of the Falkirk Gateway looking north over the site

View of the Falkirk Gateway looking north over the site

Falkirk Council appointed commercial property advisor GVA earlier this year to stimulate market interest and help attract investors to the site.

The council has been preparing the Gateway site to make it ready for development; works have included site investigations, topographical surveys, a review of broadband and utility provisions and preparation of an overall drainage strategy for the site.

Details of the opportunities available were unveiled at a launch event held in Falkirk Stadium yesterday.

The speakers included Douglas Duff, head of Planning and Economic Development at Falkirk Council, who provided an overview of the opportunities, Jennifer Tempany, head of business development at Forth Valley College, who shared the vision for the new campus and Ross Martin, chair of the British Waterways Trust, who has a significant track record in the development and diversification of Scotland’s economy over the past 25 years.

36330 GVA Falkirk Gateway South Site Boundary Graphics MedFalkirk Council leader, Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, said: “We’ve been working on raising the profile of Falkirk on a national and international level and we are keen to build on that success by commencing the marketing of the Gateway site. These new plans signal another step in the transformation of Falkirk’s economic fortunes.

“It is a very exciting project which is being supported financially through the council’s £67m TIF Scheme. The Gateway is a prime, centrally located site and we are keen to work with businesses, developers and investors who are interested in making the site a success. With the significant and growing appeal of the Kelpies, the Community Stadium facility and the forthcoming Forth Valley College campus, there’s huge investment potential for developers across tourism, business and leisure.”

Keith Aitken, regional senior director of GVA, added: “The Gateway site is an exceptional location for investment with an excellent range of opportunities and a supportive planning framework.

“Innovative developments like the Kelpies, Helix Park, the Stadium and the new College Campus make the wider Falkirk area an attractive place to visit and do business.  This, coupled with a council with a can-do approach, means I’m confident we are well placed to attract investment in the Gateway’s exciting new urban quarter.”

36330 GVA Falkirk Gateway North Site Boundary Graphics MedThe Falkirk Gateway site is situated on the east side of Falkirk on the A9 (Falkirk northern distributor road) with access to the M9 network and good connections to the town centre.

The Falkirk TIF initiative, funded in partnership with the Scottish Government, is a key priority of the Council and the proposed works aim to improve infrastructure across the area that will enable further development, support traffic flow and attract private investment.

The Gateway site is one of 28 targeted investment zones identified by Falkirk Council.  The sites all have development potential in varying sectors from residential, commercial and industrial to tourism and leisure.

Blog: How can in-town shopping centres survive and thrive?

Bon Accord graphic illustration

GVA has been involved with the planning of the Edinburgh St. James’ development and the extension to the Bon Accord Centre in Aberdeen (above)

Planning expert Chris Miller on the challenges and opportunities facing town-centre shopping centres.

Recent headlines that the equivalent of one shop per day closes on Scotland’s high streets made for grim reading, but what’s behind this and, more importantly, what can be done to arrest this decline?

For a start, look at what types of businesses have been closing. Unsurprisingly the fashion industry saw the highest number of outlets close in 2016, with banks not far behind. The common theme there is the rise of the internet – people can easily manage money from their pocket or access thousands of items of clothing from their fingertips.

E-commerce has transformed the way UK consumers shop over the last 10 years and now accounts for 14.5% of total retail sales. If growth continues at a similar rate, then online retailing could potentially reach a quarter of all retail sales by around 2025.

It’s impossible to say when this growth will hit saturation point, but it is clear that traditional high streets and shopping centres need to respond to the threat from the internet if they are to survive in the long term. A number have responded by having less of a focus on pure retailing and offering something that online services will never be able to replicate, and that’s an experience.

Developments that people can shop, eat, drink and enjoy something recreational at are becoming increasingly popular solutions to get people away from their tablets and into town and shopping centres.

Recent examples of this can be found up and down Scotland. The redevelopment of Edinburgh St. James is arguably the most high profile of these and that will feature residential units, a hotel, and a cinema amongst a whole host of other attractions.

In Glasgow, the Buchanan Quarter mixes retail with residential flats, and the recently approved St Enoch Centre reconfiguration provides for a cinema and additional food and drink outlets. A planning application to provide a boutique cinema at Princes Square is also currently pending determination. And most recently plans to transform Sauchiehall Street, which has seen a dramatic increase in empty units over the past decade, have been given the go-ahead.

GVA are currently involved in proposals that have received planning permission in principle for the redevelopment of part of the Bon Accord centre in Aberdeen. The proposals could potentially deliver substantial benefits to the city-centre by creating a melting pot of uses and a high-quality public realm. The plans should improve connectivity between the Bon Accord Centre and George Street, and become a catalyst to reinvigorate that area of the city.

Aberdeen’s Union Square is also looking to undergo an expansion to allow for an additional hotel, expanded cinema and additional food outlets.

Mixing uses like this is in line with Scottish Planning Policy and its town-centre-first approach. It stands to reason that the more people you have living, working and visiting an area, the more economically prosperous it will likely be. This has been bolstered by mechanisms such as Tax Incremental Funding (TIF). However, there are still cities in Scotland that don’t make use of such methods – could Aberdeen follow in the footsteps of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee and introduce one?

Planning authorities must continue to prioritise this approach for developments which have the potential to attract significant numbers of people into town centres. There have been examples of local authorities sticking by this approach and defending the viability of city centres. For instance, Aberdeen City Council’s planning department recently recommended a major retail development at Kingswells for refusal before the application was withdrawn.

As well as online shopping, out-of-town retail parks have shouldered much of the blame for the troubles facing town centre shopping. Out-of-town sites tend to benefit from free parking, are easily accessible by car and feature modern layouts that are often more shopper-friendly than older town centre buildings.

Conversely, town centres can require considerable investment to upgrade existing spaces and improve public realms. Such sites are also often within multiple ownership, subject to heritage constraints, or are hindered by servicing and access challenges. These factors can impact on viability, overly complicate and ultimately derail development aspirations, even with the support of local planning authorities.  Such issues make the prioritisation of town-centre-first development even more important.

Whilst older buildings in town centres may make it challenging to develop planning proposals, there is no doubt that the historic and social fabric of the built environment in these areas cannot be matched by most out-of-town sites.

Chris Miller

Chris Miller

Ideally, town centre developments should offer convenient and sustainable access to surrounding high streets, commercial and residential areas and should play to the strengths of being in the middle of a busy area through the generally larger local population, proximity of daytime office workers, employees, schools, tourists and the broader variety of smaller and often independent retailers and restaurants that are not often found in out of town destinations.

Developments that create vibrant spaces in city centres and give adjacent streets a shot in the arm are key to ensuring the longevity of in-town shopping and high streets across the country.

  • Chris Miller is a planning associate with commercial property advisory GVA

GVA appointed to attract investment for Falkirk Gateway development

Falkirk Council Gateway SiteCommercial property advisor GVA has been appointed by Falkirk Council to help attract investment for its Falkirk Gateway development.

The council created the Gateway development site in a bid to entice investors and therefore boost the future economic prosperity of the area. GVA’s role in the coming months will be to stimulate market interest and help attract local, national and international investors to the site.

Funded using Falkirk’s innovative Tax Incremental Funding (TIF) model, the Gateway is a project involving 150 acres of land. Initial plans involve the formation of an exciting new urban quarter, via £17 million of pump-priming investment.

A number of development sites and infrastructure projects fall under the Falkirk Gateway umbrella, including the state-of-the-art Falkirk Community Stadium and delivery of a new £83m STEM focussed Forth Valley College campus.

Work is currently underway to prepare the Gateway site and make it ready for development including site investigations, topographical surveys, a review of broadband and utility provisions and preparation of an overall drainage strategy for the site.

Keith Aitken, regional senior director of GVA, said: “With its excellent location at the heart of Scotland’s central belt, Falkirk has plenty to be positive about.  Innovative developments like the Kelpies, Helix Park, the Stadium and the new College Campus make the wider Falkirk area an attractive place to visit and do business. This, coupled with a Council with a can-do approach, means I’m confident we are well placed to attract investment in the Gateway’s exciting new urban quarter.

“With an excellent range of development opportunities and a supportive planning framework, not to mention Falkirk’s growing population and strong commitment to business growth, the Gateway is an exceptional location for investment.”

Douglas Duff, head of economic development and environmental services at Falkirk Council, added: “We are making good progress with the TIF initiative and are excited to witness this latest milestone in our plans for the coming year to support new development in Falkirk.

“Recent developments, including the Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies at The Helix, have raised the profile of the area on a national and international level and we are keen to build on that success with the marketing of the Gateway site.”

The Falkirk Gateway site is situated on the east side of Falkirk on the A9 (Falkirk northern distributor road) with access to the M9 network and good connections to the town centre.

The Falkirk TIF initiative, funded in partnership with the Scottish Government, is a key priority of the Council and the proposed works aim to improve infrastructure across the area that will enable further development, support traffic flow and attract private investment.

The Gateway site is one of 28 targeted investment zones identified by Falkirk Council. The sites all have development potential in varying sectors from residential, commercial and industrial to tourism and leisure.