UKAA Birmingham Study Tour: In Review: Where History Meets Modern in a Thriving City
The UKAA began 2024 with one of the organisation’s most popular member events, a Study Tour which, for the first time, visited Britain’s second city, Birmingham. On 23rd and 24thJanuary over 40 delegates visited eight leading BTR projects across the city as well as enjoying a networking dinner at the Hotel du Vin. Sponsored by Way of Life and arbnco, the Birmingham Study Tour was a resounding success with 100% of delegates who responded to a survey after the event stating that it was valuable.
One attendee was Chloe Sachikonye, Account Executive, Yardi, who shares her experience of the Study Tour.
Birmingham isn’t just “The Venice of the North,” it’s rapidly becoming the Silicon Valley of Build- to- Rent (BTR). My UKAA Study Tour, the third of its kind, proved this beyond a doubt. With over 21,000 units in the pipeline, the city is buzzing with modern living spaces attracting young professionals and families alike.
Amanda Keane of UKAA and Centrick‘s Jane Morcom welcomed attendees, while Tom Grey and Ed Howe from Cortland Consult and Emma James and Zora Vukovic from HomeViews offered insightful overviews of the market. Top-rated schemes like The Whitmore Collection by L&G, Aston Place by Dandara and Hairpin House by ila, with two out of the three utilising Yardi. Nicola Fleet-Milne from Birmingham premier estate agency FleetMilne set the scene and curated the wonderful event.
Our First Stop was Soho Wharf by Heimstaden. This Scandinavian-inspired behemoth boasted 750 units and ample green spaces, perfect for families and young professionals. Fun fact: Birmingham’s first bridge in 150 years, Soho Loop, connects its residents directly to the city centre.
Corkfield by Patrizia, managed by Native Residential, offered stunning views of the Edgbaston Cricket Ground from its 375 units. Vibrant artwork showcased the site’s artistic spirit, while a dedicated “poochie station” delighted our dog-loving contingent. Rain couldn’t dampen our spirits at Gilders Yard by Grainger. This former Victorian gild factory, nestled in the Jewellery Quarter, showcased Grainger’s commitment to local partnerships. We admired the double-height ceilings and heard about their initiatives to support nearby businesses.
The former tyre factory turned Mediterranean marvel, The Goodsyard by Urbanbubble, was our final stop for day one. With 395 units and endless amenities, it had us picturing lazy evenings on sun-drenched balconies.
And then came the fabulous dinner hosted by Way of Life and arbnco. We had a brilliant evening and special guest, Birmingham entrepreneur, Alex Nicholson-Evans. She sat with Nicola Fleet-Milne and emphasised the importance of community engagement and local partnerships in the BTR sector. UKAA President Lesley Roberts even teased upcoming study tours in Dublin, Belfast, Brighton and Philadelphia!
Day two started with a sunrise jog (yes, at 6 am!), offering a fresh perspective on Birmingham’s bustling heart. After that our first stop, Paradise View by Topland – managed by VervLife – was a triumph in co-living. This former nightclub-turned-residential gem presented 59 efficiently furnished studio and one-bed apartments, all exuding a 1930s modernist charm with a pastel palette.
Aston Place by Dandara impressed with its impeccable modernist design. The cosy and contemporary 324 apartments, ranging from one to three bedrooms, were a real treat. The gym, lounge and coworking space even featured a resident (though serendipitous) who couldn’t stop praising the site!
Next came the much-anticipated Mercian by Moda, Birmingham’s tallest residential building. Soaring 42 stories with 481 units, it has a history filled with iconic performances by Blur, Joy Division, and Duran Duran. The interiors reflected this history, with bespoke playlists and luxurious touches. We even braved the 41st floor for breathtaking views and stunning contemporary furniture with pops of colour.
Our city walk paused at Broad St by Cortland. We got a sneak peek at the soon-to-be-completed 35-story marvel with 440 units. The red brick facade juxtaposed against the cityscape promised something truly special, complete with amenities such as a children’s play area, a sky suite and ample parking.
The Landsdowne by Long Harbour, managed by Way of Life, served as a fitting finale. This industrial loft with a minimalist chic vibe and impressive artwork collection felt timeless. The 16-floor, 206-unit building, built on a former scrap car park, featured over 90% occupancy and an average tenancy term of 23 months. A testament to Birmingham’s thriving BTR scene!
The presentations by Richard MacDowell from Long Harbour and Lavinia Clark from Way of Life highlighted their exciting ventures into full-service BTR management, while Stephen Preece from arbnco shared fascinating data on energy usage in large buildings like The Landsdowne.
And just like that, the whirlwind tour ended. But fear not, BTR enthusiasts! The UKAA is hosting another Study Tour in Birmingham at the end of February. So, if you missed this one, mark your calendars!
A huge thank you to the UKAA for an unforgettable experience.
From the UKAA:
Many thanks to Chloe for sharing her experience of the UKAA Study Tour: Birmingham. Further event highlights shared with the UKAA included:
“Getting exposure to all the different BTR offerings”
“Meeting fellow delegates and getting an insight into a market I haven’t experienced previously”
“Seeing a range of assets in a short and focussed period of time and hearing the CRMs and operators talk to us about their buildings”
“Great tours & fantastic networking”