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Woodbourne Group launches fund for new generation of entrepreneurs

An investment company that will champion the next generation of entrepreneurs and wealth creators, and build exciting breakthrough businesses, has been launched in Birmingham.

Tani Dulay, chief executive of property investor and developer Woodbourne Group, has unveiled a new early capital and pre-seed accelerator fund which will support other talented entrepreneurs.

Woodbourne Ventures has £1m allocated to back promising Birmingham-based businesses. Its aim is to help the city’s entrepreneurs build successful businesses that will generate jobs and attract further investment to the region.

Tani said: “It is enormously exciting to announce the launch of Woodbourne Ventures, a fund founded by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. This early-capital and pre-seed accelerator fund will enable remarkable entrepreneurs to build breakthrough businesses right here in Birmingham.

“Woodbourne Ventures will champion the next generation of entrepreneurs and wealth-creators who are striving to build exciting breakthrough businesses. We take our inspiration from the ideas, dreams and goals of talented individuals looking to take their vision to the next level.

“By being there at the very beginning, we will give founders the best platform to grow through the first stage of business development and then raise the necessary later-stage capital.”

He added: “Birmingham is such an exciting, vibrant city with a true entrepreneurial spirit which has been evident since before it became the city of a thousand trades. For start-ups it is the place to be, with access to a young and educated workforce and support available from organisations such as the West Midlands Growth Company and Woodbourne Ventures.

“We have a very successful track record in business and it is this inside knowledge of the start-up and growth process that informs everything we do. We will give our all to help these new businesses succeed and, with that in mind, we prefer to be the lead investor.”

Four companies have received funds to date – a clean-tech business that produces net zero concrete, a sustainable loungewear company, a fintech trading business and the fourth is a web3 based company which is to be announced shortly. For more information on Woodbourne Venture and to apply for funding, please visit www.woodbournegroup.com/ventures

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Woodbourne Group have already demonstrated a rock solid commitment to Birmingham with their £360 million plans to create the landmark net zero carbon ready Curzon Wharf development.

“I am pleased to hear they are now doubling down on their commitment to Birmingham with the unveiling of Woodbourne Ventures – a wonderful initiative in support of local entrepreneurs which I wholeheartedly welcome and which is so at home here with our famously ‘can-do’ attitude and vast array of cutting edge companies.

“Birmingham and the wider West Midlands is blessed with a dynamic entrepreneurial heritage with a formidable track record of pioneers and innovators generating the ideas, products and services of the future. I look forward to seeing today’s ambitious entrepreneurs and technology start-ups find success with the support of Tani and his team.”

Birmingham City Council leader Councillor Ian Ward said: “Birmingham has a long and successful business history and has been the birthplace of thousands of companies dating back beyond the Industrial Revolution. Entrepreneurs need financial support to make their visions become reality and I am therefore delighted to see the launch of Woodbourne Ventures.”

Woodbourne Group is the company behind £360 million plans for the world’s first mixed-use, net zero carbon ready development in Birmingham.

A waterfront ecosystem, it will be a short walk from the new HS2 Curzon Street Station, offering sweeping views of the city and beyond. The masterplan development of almost one million square feet is expected to boost the Birmingham economy by at least £151 million and create over 1,000 jobs.

Curzon Wharf will provide a sustainable, mixed-use space incorporating high quality accommodation providing up to 732 student flats, 265 residential co-living units with generous amenity space and up to 498 residential units,” he said.

In addition, it will include nearly 130,000 sq ft of office, R&D and life science space, over 3,000 sq ft of retail space, over 15,000 sq ft of leisure space, over 76,424 sq ft of new and improved public realm and 490m of new and improved walking and cycling routes.

Woodbourne Group is an investment and development group that exploits potential across all aspects of real estate through creative flair and entrepreneurial vision. Driven to reinforce Birmingham’s position as a leading sustainable city, its projects continue to regenerate the city and attract both cultural and business investment. Woodbourne Group is facing the sustainability challenge head on, creating people and planet-centred developments that unlock economic opportunities without costing the earth.

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Store opens as Woodbourne Group completes £6 million scheme

A new Lidl store has opened its doors today (June 30) following a multi-million-pound redevelopment of a West Midlands site by property developer and investor Woodbourne Group.

Around 40 jobs have been created by the £6 million transformation of the former Arrow Valley Health Club site at Battens Drive, Redditch.

Birmingham-based Woodbourne Group acquired a two-storey, 21,000 sq ft gym on a 1.70-acre site. An agreement was later signed with Lidl UK GmbH to develop a retail store on a 25-year lease.

Woodbourne Group chief executive Tani Dulay said: “It is fantastic to see the new Lidl store open its doors to the public. The development has transformed the landscape and provided investment into the local economy, giving Redditch access to the convenience and good value associated with the Lidl brand.”

He added: “It was our vision to redevelop the site when we acquired it as a distressed asset and we are grateful for all the support we have received from the local authority and the community.

“Seeing that vision develop into what is a wonderful new addition for Redditch shoppers is very satisfying and we would like to wish Lidl huge success with its new store.”

Woodbourne Group acquired the long-leasehold interest of the site unconditionally, without borrowing, and completed within five working days from exchange of contracts.

Skilful acquisition was then required for the sublease and freehold interest, allowing development without any legal impediment. This demanded a deep understanding of practical needs and concerns of a site fraught with risk.

An active asset management strategy was applied, and a detailed design and urban analysis on the proposed redevelopment options undertaken. The site generated significant interest from a range of potential end users including a car dealership, discount food, petrol filling station, hotel, pub, fast food and drive-thru.

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Hybrid working and its impact on the commercial environment

Since its outbreak, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated a long-term trend towards remote and hybrid working patterns. This has seen workforces across the world combine remote and home working with periods in the office, perhaps for meetings and creative collaboration.

This approach has largely been facilitated by cloud-based services that have transformed how people can access vital information, databases, and work documents securely wherever they are located.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed that those businesses which had already developed a hybrid working pattern at the start of the pandemic were much more resilient and able to adapt to lockdowns than those who hadn’t.

Now, a combination of commercial priorities and shifting employee expectations mean that hybrid working is becoming the norm and the commercial property market has had to adapt accordingly.

 

Hybrid working is transforming the commercial property market 

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, offices and other commercial spaces were left silent and empty. Many building projects that were due to be completed were shelved and there was widespread uncertainty about the scale of return to the office that we might see going forward.  However, the more pessimistic forecasts about commercial buildings being left largely empty with huge losses predicted for commercial property companies have not been realised.

Rather than completely vacating office space, how businesses use that space has started to change. Whereas existing contracts for large office spaces have been ongoing, there is some anecdotal evidence suggesting that companies are now looking for smaller overall floor spaces to help them adapt for a hybrid future.

However, it’s important to remember that hybrid working doesn’t necessarily mean less space is required. Although the number of permanent desks may be reduced, creative desk lay-outs and break-out areas for increased flexibility and collaborative engagement will make a different use of the available space.

 

Hybrid working is changing office design

Hybrid working, underpinned by rapid digitalisation, is changing office design expectations. Rather than large open plan office and cubicle-based workspaces, shared and more intimate spaces are becoming increasingly common. Offices will provide space for collaborative working, as well as more space to socialise and network.

The average office will no longer be the place where most of the business of the company is conducted. Work will be able to be carried out at a distance with a dispersed workforce perhaps coming into the office to work on specific projects, collaborate or meet clients.

People at different stages of their career may have different working patterns, with young members of staff gaining from the experience of being in the office for their career development, and more experienced members of the team working remotely to help them balance other responsibilities.

A booking system might be used to allow employees to book workspaces and meeting areas, with the space reconfigured to include hot-desking areas and social spaces. Meeting rooms may also include facilities for video conferencing for remote working staff.

 

The office as a social anchor 

While many people enjoyed not having to face the morning commute during the pandemic others ultimately found it challenging. The social aspect of work is still important, with the office allowing us to enjoy face-to-face encounters with colleagues, making emotional connections, expressing empathy, and discussing the world around us. This is an important part of work culture for many people and while some information-based roles can be successfully carried out remotely, others require the added social element that offices can bring.

During the pandemic, meetings were scheduled using technology such as Zoom or Teams, replacing the more informal aspects of office life such as wandering over to someone’s desk to ask them a question. There is no doubt that online meetings will continue to flourish but it is unlikely to completely replace the desire to have face-to-face meetings.

For this reason, offices are still likely to act as a social anchor for the company, allowing employees to enjoy the benefits of working together with as much or as little remote working as is practical or possible.

 

What does this mean for commercial property?

Although there were some who were quick to predict that remote working would spell the end of the office, that’s not been the case. Instead, a new more flexible model is emerging. It still requires office space, but the design and layout of those buildings will need to evolve to reflect different needs.

As well as creating challenges for commercial developers and property owners it also provides opportunities. Developers who can provide businesses with the kind of flexible spaces they need are likely to find their property in demand going forward.

Developers that focus on innovation, sustainability and creativity will be those that reap the benefits of this brave new world of hybrid working.

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How biophilic design is helping to improve the built environment

Biophilia is a Latin term meaning, to love life or living systems. It encapsulates the foundational connection that humans have with the natural world around them. In a world dominated by urban environments and technology, that all-important connection with nature can be lost. Green spaces in cities are threatened by developers and modern lifestyles disconnect people from the natural world.

Biophilic design is helping to address that disconnect by embedding green elements into the built environment. What was once a fringe concern within architecture and construction is now going mainstream as concerns about well-being and sustainability come to the fore.

What is biophilic design? 

Biophilic design is the way through which nature is incorporated into building design to help contribute to the health and well-being of its occupants. Biophilic design will include elements such as natural light, living walls, natural textures and materials, living walls and views of nature.

Nature is the inspiration for biophilic design, but it’s more than just an optional add-on at the end of the design process. Biophilic design conceives the entire building as part of nature and looks at how natural elements can be incorporated to reflect that. Biophilic design will also consider the future challenges that a building might face due to the climate crisis, seeking to be part of the solution rather than helping to exacerbate the problem even further.

The principles of biophilic design

Biophilic design can incorporate a range of features depending on the particular context. The most common principles guiding the biophilic design process are: 

  • Views and access to nature 

Buildings will be sited to maximise their view of natural surroundings, whether that be mountains, a forest or just an urban park. When buildings are in densely urban areas with little green space nearby the design could incorporate courtyard gardens and other spaces. Trees and planting might be used to create an urban oasis that occupants can use when they want to recharge.

Other access features might include windows that can be easily opened by the occupants, rolling doors that allow office space to open to the outdoors and air circulation systems.

  • Natural lighting

 Access to natural light is a key principle in biophilic design and plays a critical role in supporting the well-being of building occupants. Sun shading elements, window-to-wall ratios and orientation will all be considered. The aim throughout is to create a comfortable, well-lit environment that minimises the need for artificial light with limiting glare.

  • Improved acoustics

 Traffic noise, mechanical equipment, elevators and people moving about a building can all create high noise levels which can be distracting. While conventional design may look to limit excess noise through the addition of acoustic panels, biophilic design may choose to incorporate green walls and roofs, or well-placed interior plants and water features.

This helps to create a softer, more sound absorbing environment as well as delivering some of the other benefits that greenery can provide. Green roofs and walls can also provide added insulation during colder months. 

  • Natural materials

 The choice of materials is a key aspect of biophilic design. Where possible, natural materials will be used in both the interior and exterior, complete with finishes that reflect nature. This might be through natural paint colours, the use of wood, cork or natural stone rather than concrete. These may be sustainable and can also incorporate elements from the circular economy such as coffee grounds, seaweed or coconut fibre.

The materials used will also reflect the climate and the natural environment in which the building is located, helping to blur the division between the built environment and nearby nature.

Biophilic design can improve our physical and mental well-being

Biophilic design is aimed at creating restorative places that help to connect humans to their surroundings. Architects incorporate nature into their design in order to contribute to the health and well-being of the occupants and of people in the immediate environment. By opting for natural materials or by incorporating features that mimic or reflect the surrounding ecosystem, they create buildings that work with our deep-rooted connection to nature.

Biophilic design has been widely used in hospitals and hospices where it has been shown to improve recovery rates. It’s now being increasingly used in schools where it has a positive impact on the cognitive function of students. In offices and other workplaces, green elements have helped to increase productivity.

Biophilic design is in tune with the shift towards a more sustainable economy and more holistic society. It illustrates how good stewardship of the environment includes the built environment and the humans who interact with it.

By placing nature at the heart of the design process it creates a built environment that nurtures people as well as the planet.

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Can a building ever be future proof?

A famous quote by Benjamin Franklin says that death and taxes are the only two things about which we can be certain. As anyone who has attempted to predict the future will tell you, it’s a quote that contains some truth. Whether we’re trying to determine the direction of our own lives or taking an educated guess at what might happen at a broader social level, the future has a habit of throwing us a few curveballs.

Future-proofing when it comes to buildings is often treated with a degree of scepticism for that very reason. Many predictions that shaped planning and building styles in previous decades now look redundant. Few people saw such a rapid shift towards remote and hybrid working as has happened over the past couple of years. Cities built for cars were once seen as the future, now they’re something urban centres are looking to move away from.

With all that in mind, can a building ever be truly future-proof?

 

What is future-proofing?

Future-proofing is a wide term that has adopted a range of different meanings in different contexts. In regard to buildings, future-proofing is a process that aims to maximise the whole-life value of the building, whatever changes an unpredictable future may bring.

The future-proofing process begins by asking what might happen in the life of the building and how likely those changes are. Also, what would the impact of those changes be. If you were to take measures to future-proof against those changes, how much would it cost? Are those costs worth bearing for the security it might give or are they unrealistic?

The assessment process should be a continuous exercise involving a range of different professionals, from the client to designers, suppliers and contractors as well as end-users. In this sense, future-proofing acts in a similar way to carrying out a risk assessment.

In fact, future-proofing is an old and established technique that can be as involved as required.

 

Why is it important? 

Future-proofing has been part of building and design practice for some time, but over recent years it has taken on a new urgency. Growing concern about the environment, the pandemic and the stresses that may be caused by climate change are shining a new spotlight on how we think about buildings.

This may include looking at how buildings can lower their carbon footprint, as well as how buildings will cope with more extreme weather patterns and improving hygiene factors. Adapting to climate change is also likely to mean that the way people live, work, shop and travel will all change. This will have an impact on how buildings are used and what they’re needed for. Rising energy costs, legislative changes, social attitudes and wider considerations about the local environment can all change how the building may be used or perceived.

 

Isn’t this just crystal ball-gazing?

In some ways, yes it is. There is always room for error and misjudgment when it comes to predictions about the future. However, future-proofing is based on much more than just idle speculation. It takes a hard look at current trends, analyses the data and consults as much in-depth research as possible to reach its conclusions.

It’s important to remember that budgets for buildings are not limitless, so any future-proofing measures that are taken will need to have a strong basis in likely outcomes.

 

Flexibility is key 

With so much uncertainty, architects and construction companies are increasingly incorporating flexibility into their buildings. Even the most accurate predictions can soon become redundant with the arrival of a disruptive advance in technology, or a radical sudden shift in how we work. If buildings are to remain relevant despite rapid changes, then flexibility is crucial.

 

Building with longevity in mind 

While future-proofing can never be an exact science it can help to create buildings that are created to last. Any building represents a substantial investment, so ensuring that it’s fit for purpose for a considerable amount of time is a key priority.

By following a thorough future-proofing process you can create buildings that are flexible, sustainable and able to adapt to changing times.

At Woodbourne Group, we are focused on building environments that we can all thrive in. Future proofing is always a key item on our agenda.

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Happy Gurpurab

Today is the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism. This auspicious occasion is marked as Gurpurab. His teachings are integral to Woodbourne Group’s CSR policy:

⮕ Help those in need
⮕ Make an honest living
⮕ Look after Mother Earth

May Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings guide us always. Happy Gurpurab.

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COP26: The UK’s Role in the Fight Back Against Climate Change

The UK population has become more aware of climate change over the past few years, especially as the COVID pandemic has held the world to ransom.

Thanks to the fascinating yet petrifying Blue Planet documentaries, the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, Sir David Attenborough’s world status, Greta Thunberg’s sudden media prominence and the reduction of carbon emissions during lockdown, the public has now started to see how our choices can impact the world around us.

COP26 is an event created to address exactly these issues. Taking place in Glasgow, it  brings together world governments to discuss how we can help protect the planet we love.

But it’s not just about world leaders. If we really want to achieve climate change goals, we all need to accept the responsibility- governments, local councils, businesses and individuals alike. Together we can make that change.

In this short article, we’d like to highlight just how important COP26 is, what the UK and Birmingham City Council is doing to implement change and how Woodbourne Group will also be playing its part.

 

What is COP26?

COP26 is the annual climate summit that is coming to Glasgow in November. Organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) it takes place for the 26th time between 31st October and 12th November 2021.

The event is expected to attract around 36,000 delegates and up to 200 world leaders who are driven to keep the global temperature rise within the limit of 1.5 degrees as per The Paris Agreement.

Together, nations will work to bring climate change under control, focusing on how to address their net-zero emissions target, how to pay for it and how to help vulnerable communities adapt so we can create a brighter future for us all.

 

What is the UK doing to address climate change?

The UK has long been one of the key players when it comes to addressing climate change with numerous policies in place to control our impact on the planet.

In addition to existing targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, they also outlined brand new commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035 in April this year, potentially putting them ahead on the global stage.

Through this visionary Net Zero: Build Back Greener strategy, they set out their net steps to “…cut emissions, seize green economic opportunities, and leverage further private investment into net-zero,” with an increased focus on ensuring that reliable, clean energy is available to all.

This includes greater investment in renewables such as hydro, solar and wind and plans to install heat pumps in homes around the country, offering a £5,000 grant to qualifying households in the UK from April 2022. They also aim to reduce the sale of petrol cars, boost the sale of electric cars, freeze demands for flights, plant more trees, optimise agriculture and invest further in carbon storage initiatives.

Yet, as encouraging as these strategies may be, change also needs to happen on a regional level if we are to achieve these climate change goals.

Birmingham, our home city, is doing exactly that, having declared a climate emergency in June 2019 and outlining plans of their own to tackle climate change. With their visionary Route to Zero Taskforce (R20), they bring together individuals, the community and local businesses to become carbon neutral by 2030, well ahead of UK targets.

 

How Woodbourne Group is making a difference

Woodbourne Group has long worked alongside Birmingham City Council to boost the local economy, push sustainability and create greener, cleaner working and living spaces for us all.

“It’s about fostering a sustainable, and above all responsible, approach through everything we do. Any business serious about creating long term value has to place ESG at the heart of its operations. In development terms, that means that sustainability has to be more than just a box-ticking exercise.”

Our ground-breaking Curzon Wharf development– the world’s first mixed-use net-zero carbon masterplan was announced earlier this year and aims to set the stage for other similar visionary property developers. By consulting with environment and regeneration specialists, we have been able to use technological innovation to benefit the local community and reinforce our ‘green’ credentials.

Committed to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment and working closely with the local community, we like to think that we are playing our small part in “helping to pave the way for the UK’s Green Revolution” and help our country reach the net-zero goals as soon as possible.

Cop26 is probably one of the most important meetings the world has ever seen.

The future is in our hands.

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Woodbourne Group Announces the Completion of First Phase of Canalside Development

A sustainable development with an eye to the future is breathing new life into West Bromwich while providing high-quality homes for local people

A much-anticipated sustainable housing development for West Bromwich has completed the first stage of its development. Woodbourne Group, the Birmingham based company behind the Canalside development, has announced that the £13 million scheme is well on course to provide quality homes for local people, with more to follow.

The project that consists of 70 high-quality homes has sustainability at its heart. Close to the M6 motorway and just 20 minutes from the city centre, it’s being heralded as a game changer for the local area. The brand-new waterside residential quarter is expected to attract new investment, employment, and prosperity for the whole Black Country region.

Phase one and Phase 2 of the scheme have now been completed and handed over for use. Phases 3 & 4 are progressing well, with almost all properties now water-tight and weatherproof with internal works progressing at pace,” says Woodbourne’s Chief Executive Officer, Tani Dulay.

Once the home to a semi-derelict industrial estate, the new site is revitalising the area and raising the bar when it comes to sustainability. As well as charging points for EV vehicles the waterside development also includes generous bicycle storage. Situated immediately next door to the Black Lake tram stop, it will provide easy access for residents and visitors to the HS2 high speed railway. This means that London and it’s key surrounding areas will be less than an hour from the development.

Woodbourne Group has been quick to herald the hard work of everyone involved as they kept the project operational despite the challenges presented by Covid-19. It’s testament to the flexibility and forward thinking of the group that the project has remained firmly on track through lockdowns and shortages of materials that have caused serious delays elsewhere.

The Canalside development also supports the Secured By Design (SBD) scheme, adopting crime prevention measures in development design in a bid to help prevent crime and helping people to feel safe in their communities.

 

About Woodbourne Group: Woodbourne Group is an investment and development group that exploits potential across all aspects of real estate through creative flair and entrepreneurial vision. Driven to reinforce Birmingham’s position as a leading sustainable city, their projects continue to regenerate the city and attract both cultural and business investment. The Group is currently behind the world’s first mixed-use and net zero carbon masterplan. Woodbourne Group is facing the sustainability challenge head on, creating people and planet centred developments that unlock economic opportunities without costing the earth.

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The Impact of Green Spaces on Our Mental Wellbeing

Green spaces help protect our mental health. They help us to bounce back from stress, reduce anxiety, ease depression and provide a valuable opportunity to escape from the worries of day to day life.

The environments we live in shape our lives and our sense of wellbeing. Having somewhere safe to live, a reliable and sufficient income and good support networks around us make a vital contribution to our lives. The importance of our surroundings also extends to our natural environment. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus how much we value and rely on green spaces to support our health and wellbeing.

It’s not just our mental health that benefits, we gain physically too. People with better access to greenspace tend to enjoy a wide range of health benefits as well such as lower levels of cardiovascular disease and maintaining a healthier weight.

Access to good quality green spaces such as parks, woodlands, and fields varies greatly depending on where we live. A growing number of people currently live in urban environments and have limited access to these types of spaces. This could potentially worsen any existing mental or physical health problems and place an even greater strain on individuals and their families.

Population growth, urbanisation and the competing demands for land use and budgetary constraints, are putting local, accessible greenspace under threat. Therefore, for the sake of our citizens, city planners and developers must take green space and sustainability into consideration when outlining their projects.

 

Green space and mental health – the connection

Stepping outside for a breath of fresh air or having a relaxing stroll in a local park is a common way we break away from stress, hit that reset button and leave us feeling happier.

But this isn’t simply a matter of taste or personal habit.

A growing body of research suggests that green spaces can help reduce stress, increase social interaction, encourage physical exercise, improve concentration and productivity and boost overall mental health for all members of the family.

Although scientists still aren’t entirely sure why this happens, it appears that time spent in nature activates our parasympathetic nervous system, helping to calm the body and mind.

This could be because humans evolved to spend their time in nature and did so until just a few thousand years ago when the shift to a more urban environment started. Even then, cities were nothing like the sprawling metropolises that they are today, yet our bodies and minds haven’t kept up with the changes.

 

Green space – the benefits

Access to green space is linked to health and wellbeing in several ways. These include:

  • The promotion of healthy behaviours, such as engaging in physical activity and other recreation.
  • Improvement of social contacts; it gives people a sense of familiarity and belonging. Cleaner, greener communities are places where people wish to live and work and can promote social contact and connectivity.
  • Reducing isolation, loneliness and encouraging a connection to nature.
  • Supporting the development of skills and capabilities, particularly for young people; there is emerging evidence that spending time in greenspace is improving motor skills, better academic performance, and increased concentration.
  • Helping to reduce exposure to air pollution, the urban heat island effect, and mitigation of excessive noise and reduced flood risk, all of which can impair both mental and physical health.

Creating a greener future

The responsibility lies on the shoulders of developers to incorporate safe, welcoming and sustainable green spaces that protect the mental health of urban citizens. Additionally, these green spaces can promote UK government sustainability efforts, improving air quality, keeping cities cool and reducing carbon footprints.

Green spaces within new developments need to balance the two, focussing on areas such as accessibility, aesthetics and use as we have with our new Curzon Wharf development. We have included features such sky terraces, winter gardens, nature playgrounds and tree-lined piazzas whilst also supporting biodiversity to make a comfortable space for residents that promotes optimal health. This will provide a significant scheme of green urban infrastructure and external amenity, in correlation with the principles of Birmingham City Council’s ‘Our Future City Plan.’

 

Summary

By including green spaces in their city and town design plans, developers can help support the mental health of citizens whilst providing a sustainable space for the future.

Find out more about our Curzon Wharf development and other exciting urban developments, here.

 

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How Birmingham Can Seize the Opportunity of the Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games are coming to Birmingham in July 2022 and they look set to be the biggest yet. With hundreds of events across a range of sports including diving, gymnastics and athletics, and more medal events for women than ever before, it’s truly an event that can’t be missed.

 

Like other similar international multisport events of this calibre, the games will bring economic and cultural opportunities to the city, allowing Birmingham to shine it’s glorious credentials brightly on the global stage.

 

However, this opportunity needs to be matched with continued investment, confidence, and the right urban governance to facilitate. Birmingham is working hard to implement a programme of change across the city; the Clean Air Zone is one such example. It is now operational; making a greener Birmingham a better place to live and work.

 

Major sporting events are great for the economy

Undeniably, major sporting events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics benefit their host cities enormously whilst taking place. This will be especially true for Birmingham in 2022 after suffering from the financial impact of the pandemic.

 

Firstly, the Commonwealth Games will bring visitors back to the city, filling up the city’s hotel beds and allowing tour operators and attractions to revive their businesses. This will allow the creation of new jobs in tourism and other related sectors and inject much-needed cash into the local economy. Now that vaccination is fully underway, we will be able to do this more safely than ever before.

 

Secondly, the games will help raise the profile of the UK’s second city and allow it to claim the recognition it deserves. It has long been a thriving multicultural hub with a multitude of culinary, cultural and historical attractions and finally can be recognised as such. Again, this can plant the seed for future economic success whilst also supporting the tourism marketing strategies currently in place.

 

Thirdly, sporting events encourage more investment in areas such as transport and communication which not only benefit the local population and economy but also remain in place afterwards. This raises living standards for all, creating more housing, jobs and prosperity for all.

 

Success or failure: capturing the long-term benefits of the Commonwealth Games

We only need to look back at the London 2012 Olympics and the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 to see that the benefits may not always be sustained over the long term.

 

London, for example, thrived during the run-up to the Olympic games and shortly afterwards. The building of Olympic Park helped to regenerate the East End, new railway lines were laid down and as previously mentioned, the city benefited financially. Although the benefits continued shortly after the games came to a close, growth stagnated.

 

As a 2017 report from the London Assembly’s Regeneration Committee shows, “…while the Games provided an initial focus for new investment activity, it was short-lived and resulted in mainly physical and economic gains. The gap in many quality of life indicators between the six host boroughs and the rest of London (known as ‘convergence’) is not being closed. The gap in terms of sporting or physical activity rates has got worse too.

 

It could have all been so hugely different. Manchester has continued to boom since they hosted the Commonwealth Games almost twenty years ago. After a difficult post-war period and significant unemployment, the city witnessed a 41% growth in jobs in the years between 1991 to 2019, highlighting the power of these sporting events.

 

Investing in Birmingham’s future

Birmingham is now in the process of laying down a long-term strategy for success. To do this it needs to lean on excellent leadership, visionary businesses, and those with the drive to push for economic revival.

 

By coming together as a city, we can make this happen. At the time of writing, the signs are good. The local economy is heading in the right direction, and the wide distribution of investments means that the city is more likely to deliver a 2022 Commonwealth Games experience that creates a lasting legacy that benefits everyone.

 

By making these savvy investments to support both visitors and the local population and

Having confidence in what our beautiful city can offer, we can ensure that Birmingham seizes the opportunity that lies before it.

About us: Woodbourne Group is an investment and development Group that exploits potential across all aspects of Real Estate through creative flair and entrepreneurial vision.

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Curzon Wharf Birmingham – World’s first mixed-use net zero carbon masterplan

The world’s first mixed-use net zero carbon development in a key quarter of Birmingham city centre that could create well over 1,000 jobs has been unveiled by Woodbourne Group.

The waterfront ecosystem, to be called Curzon Wharf, will be within eight minutes walking distance of the HS2 Curzon Street Station, offering sweeping views of the city and beyond.

The masterplan development of almost one million square feet is expected to boost the Birmingham economy by at least £151 million.

The hybrid plans have been designed after five years of consultation with Birmingham City Council and a world-class team of regeneration and built-environment specialists.

Developers Woodbourne Group say it will be a “truly transformative urban neighbourhood” when completed, incorporating both the latest technology and many social and mental health lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief executive Tani Dulay said Curzon Wharf will reinvent this 1960s site into a “newly reinvigorated, dynamic, world-class and sustainable mixed-use ecosystem” containing life sciences, a new breed of residential and student living with vast public spaces “never seen in Birmingham before”.

He said: “Curzon Wharf isn’t just a development, it’s a manifesto that will position Birmingham as UK’s leading smart and sustainable city, helping to pave the way for the UK’s Green Revolution. It reinforces Birmingham position as the UK’s second city.

“It will act as a catalyst for the wider transformation of the Eastside area, where a number of masterplans have been earmarked which otherwise would not be possible. It signposts Birmingham’s route to delivering transformational change to the city.

“It will promote social, cultural and economic exchange in a truly transformative urban neighbourhood.”

The project has been welcomed by senior civic leaders including West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who said: “This is an incredibly exciting plan, with the potential to create more than 1,000 jobs at what will be a critical time for our region’s economy as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is brilliant to see how innovative the masterplan is, not only through being net-zero and contributing towards our #WM2041 goal, but also with the life sciences element which will help create a number of high-skilled, well-paid jobs in a key industry of the future, building on the recent investment at the life sciences site in Selly Oak.

“I will support Tani and his team at Woodbourne Group as best I can as Mayor to get this scheme moving.”

Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward, said: “This exciting project will put Birmingham right at the forefront of green, sustainable development and underlines our determination to tackle the climate crisis, while also creating jobs and opportunities for people across the city.

“We’ve shown with the recent launch of Our Future City Plan consultation that Birmingham has the ambition and vision to become a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive city and Curzon Wharf shows our determination to turn vision into reality.

“We want to work with the people and communities of Birmingham as we re-imagine and reshape our city, so I would urge as many people as possible to have their say in this consultation.”

The city centre site of 993,046 sq ft will provide new residential, retail, office, R&D and life sciences that is currently occupied by industrial units constructed in the 1960s.

The built-to-rent element will stand 53 storeys high making it Birmingham’s tallest building at 172m  (564 feet). The purpose-built student accommodation will be 41 storeys and the co-living 14 storeys tall.

Tani Dulay said the development will include “never before seen” high quality, purpose-built student accommodation.

“Curzon Wharf will provide a sustainable, mixed-use space incorporating high quality accommodation providing up to 732 student flats, 265 residential co-living units with generous amenity space and up to 498 residential units,” he said.

In addition, it will include nearly 130,000 sq ft of office, R&D and life science space, over 3,000 sq ft of retail space, over 15,000 sq ft of leisure space, over 76,424 sq ft of new and improved public realm and 490m of new and improved walking and cycling routes.

The site is positioned on the northern entry to Birmingham on the A38 Aston Expressway just south of Dartmouth Circus – a site passed by as many as 21 million road users in a normal “non-Covid” year when entering the  city centre from the north.

Planning and development consultants Turley and commercial property agents CBRE have calculated Curzon Wharf will add £2 million a year in council tax and business rates and attract a New Homes Bonus of £4 million.

Mr Dulay added: “We are creating a balance of new uses that never been seen in Birmingham before with a major area of new, high quality public realm to create a unique canalside environment with its own recognisable identity.

“We need to help power the economic recovery by facilitating investment, creating jobs and acting as a catalyst to further success. Curzon Wharf does this while catering for every residential demographic set not seen in Birmingham before.

“We have targeted the provision of amenity and public space like no other with a major emphasis on mental health and well-being. This will be the first development on this major scale to respond to the issues raised by Covid-19 and Birmingham’s newly launched high-rise green vision: Central Birmingham 2040.”

The project has also been welcomed by environmental leaders.

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Birmingham is still poised for growth

Tani Dulay, Chief Executive at Woodbourne Group, reflects on the impact of Covid-19 and the importance of mindset in defining better resilient socio-economies.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout doesn’t require an introduction. It’s unclear exactly what form and how long the economic recovery will take. The OBR says the UK economy could fall by 35 per cent in the second quarter. Brutal, but it also expects a very sharp bounce back with policymakers acting in unison. Actions are being taken far beyond monetary policy to cushion the demand drop and they are preventing the economy from seizing up in aggregate credit flows by keeping illiquid firms solvent.

The Department for Transport’s “notices to proceed” to the contractors on the HS2 route between London and Birmingham means the civils packages, worth £12bn, can now finally get underway without delay to ‘level up’ the country and the city. It has been confirmed the staging of the 2022 Commonwealth Games will not be impacted by the postponement of Tokyo 2020 either.

These are reminders of how resilient our city is.  Its underlying strength should give hope to those whom operate within it.

We had to revaluate operations and make lateral moves to adapt. Woodbourne Group has the bandwidth to support its pre-construction activities across the development portfolio and will continue to screen opportunities. The stable, loyal and determined entrepreneurship shall be the backbone of the national perspective growth. Attitudes and psychology of the mindset plays a role in defining better resilient socio-economies. It’s often said that when the wind of change blows, some build walls, while others build windmills.

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Woodbourne Group completes acquisition of Mill Wharf in Birmingham City Centre

Woodbourne Group has completed the acquisition of Mill Wharf from a Property Fund managed by London-based Downing LLP. The completion reflects a wider combined acquisition of £5.5m which now extends the company’s ownership to 60,000 sq ft of mixed-use space, over 2.5 acres.

Located just off the A38 and Dartmouth Circus, the property occupies a prominent position in Birmingham City Centre, with the Birmingham Curzon Masterplan Area for HS2, and in close proximity to the city’s University Quarter. The site also benefits enormously from the waterside amenity afforded by its canalside location.

Tani Dulay, Chief Executive of Woodbourne Group, commented: “Successfully acquiring the Mill Wharf investment on the open market is a demonstration of our ability to conclude deals within a timely manner.”

Nick Lewis, Partner of Downing LLP, commented: “Having recently re-geared the lease with the occupier JTL, which included bringing in the adjacent car park owned by the tenant, now was the opportune time for a disposal of this asset and Woodbourne Group were an obvious buyer. Woodbourne Group acted quickly and enabled a swift transaction to take place.”

James Madill, Partner of Gateley’s plc acted for Woodbourne Group.  DWF and MK2 Real Estate acted for Downing.

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Woodbourne Group agree deal at Canalside

Developer Woodbourne Group has agreed a deal with Sanctuary for the construction of 70 new homes at Woodbourne Group’s award-winning Canalside development.

The deal is the latest in a series of development milestones at the site, it received support from the Local Enterprise Partnership, MP Adrian Bailey and was recommended for the SBD Gold Award.

The properties will all be delivered for affordable rent and construction is set to start on the scheme this month. Demolition work has already taken place on the part-derelict industrial estate to make way for the new homes.

Tani Dulay, Chief Executive of Woodbourne Group, said: “The deal is a testament to our ability to exploit value in areas that others would shy away from.”

Woodbourne Group is building an order book of more than £100m in its dedicated housing partnerships division.

 

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Acquisition of Saxon Way Industrial Estate

Woodbourne Group has successfully completed the acquisition of Saxon Way Industrial Estate in Birmingham for an undisclosed sum.

The property is a multi-let industrial estate located 14 miles east of Birmingham City Centre and close the M6 at Junction 4 providing easy access to the M42.

Tani Dulay, Chief Executive, commented: “In an ultra-low interest rate environment the cash flow benefit of higher yielding multi-let industrials is obvious but most investors are put off by the smaller lot sizes and the level of asset management required. The estate offers significant reversionary potential and scope for future redevelopment”.

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Birmingham’s most expensive house EVER

Birmingham’s first £4 million house is set to be built in Edgbaston – where it will boast seven bedrooms and ten bathrooms.

Woodbourne Group has been given planning permission for the property at 46 Westfield Road.

Aiming to mix traditional values with a modern vision, the home on a 0.75 acre site will also boast a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, gym, cinema, squash court, table tennis and snooker room and a luxury garden building.

Seven of the ten bathrooms will be en-suite and the home will also include a drawing room, reception room, family room, dining room, kitchen diner, dedicated laundry room, utility rooms, cloak store, an entrance hall and a tandem garage.

Due to complete in early 2018, if the home does realise its market potential, it is set to be the most expensive residential property in the city’s history.

Its current estimated value of £4.1 million would be half a million pounds more than city’s current record holder at 4 Woodbourne Road which was sold in 2011.

The council’s consent for the property marks the first stage in a multi-million-pound pipeline for Woodbourne Group. Based on Harborne Road in Edgbaston, the company recently re-launched its development arm after nine years. Its new expansion plan is being spearheaded by Tani Dulay, a 24-year-old entrepreneur:

“46 Westfield Road, whilst a significant project in it’s own right, is just a small step in the right direction for the company.””

Mr Dulay, who is a mentor to the Business School students of University of Wolverhampton, added:

“Experience across the board culminated with our start up mentality positions us well to deliver in a post-Brexit landscape. The UK still has the foundations for a boom in house building and we remain committed to meeting these needs.”

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Developer behind affordable homes for Wotton under Edge

Work has now started to build ten affordable homes in Synwell, Wotton under Edge, on the site of the former Full Moon pub.

Stroud District Council has contributed towards the project that will see affordable housing provider Two Rivers Housing acquire ten completed 2 and 3 bedroom houses from developer Woodbourne Group, all of which be available for shared ownership. Homes England has also contributed to the cost of the project.

Tani Dulay, Chief Executive of Woodbourne Group, commented: “Developers are tasked with the enactment of national policy imperatives; building the homes this country needs. We take this seriously and look forward to making a positive contribution to the Stroud District”

The first homes are due to be completed in April 2019 and the whole project finished by the end of June 2019.

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Lidl UK GmbH signs up to Battens Drive

Woodbourne Group has put forward plans to build a new store for Lidl UK GmbH (“Lidl”) on a prime retail site in Redditch. Lidl have signed up to a 25-year lease.

Battens Drive is located adjacent to the roundabout junction between the B4497 Battens Drive and the A4023 Coventry Highway.

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Tani Dulay shortlisted for a NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Award

NTU alumnus Tani Dulay, (MSc Real Estate 2014), has been shortlisted for two categories in this year’s NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards’; Young Entrepreneur of The Year and Family Business Entrepreneur of The Year.

Tani Dulay beat off tough competition in order to make the regional shortlist, with over 1000 entrepreneurs entering the awards nationally across the wide range of categories.

Now in its fifth year, the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, which acknowledge the hard work and inspiring stories of British entrepreneurs and businesses in Great Britain, has celebrated some amazing entrepreneurs over the years, many of whom are now household names.

Speaking about the nomination, Tani Dulay said: “It’s an honour to be nominated and I’m fortunate to be here. Finalist selection was made possible by the commitment of team players who work hard to turn our vision into reality.”

Creator of the Awards, Francesca James, said: “This year has seen a record number of entrants and we’ve been absolutely blown away by the strength of applications. We cannot wait to celebrate entrepreneurship across Great Britain with them and put a spotlight on the incredible talent within the British entrepreneur ecosystem.”

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70 new homes on way to Black Lake under £13m plan

Developer Woodbourne Group has this week submitted a planning application for a 70-unit home scheme at West Bromwich’s Black Lake.

The planning application seeks permission to demolish the part-derelict industrial estate to make way for a £13m project. If the application is approved, the demolition work is likely to start at the end of this summer.

The high-quality and sustainable housing scheme will compromise of 53 houses and 17 apartments.

The estate will sit next to the Black Lake tram stop which has an average of 1300 weekday boarders and a journey time of under 19 minutes to Birmingham City Centre. It is also likely to benefit from High Speed 2 (HS2), the UK’s new high speed rail network.

In February, the Government released its white paper, Fixing our broken housing market, which sets out a broad range of reforms that Government plans to introduce to increase the supply of new homes.

Tani Dulay, CEO of Woodbourne Group, supporting the Government’s white paper on housing, said:
“Notwithstanding current increased market uncertainty following the snap election, Woodbourne Group remains in robust health to capitalise on a continuing benign land market with £10m under offer on sites in the region and a pipeline now close to £50m.”

“The number of households in England is projected to increase at an average of 210,000 a year between 2014 and 2039 according to government figures released last summer. The housing market fundamentals remain strong with high demand from home buyers, good availability of affordable mortgages, ample land supply and cross-party political support to build more homes in the UK”.

He explained: “For a long time, Black Lake has remained a part-derelict estate. This exciting opportunity will help breathe new life into this area. One that is well-connected to communities by car, public transport, cycling and walking”

Adrian Bailey, Member of Parliament for West Bromwich West said:

“I welcome the news of Woodbourne Group’s new build scheme at Black Lake as it is projects like this that can add even greater value to the geographical area but can also give a boost to the local economy.”

Dr Chris Handy OBE, Black Country LEP Board Member reiterated his support to the young entrepreneur:

“We support the planning application for Black Lake which will bring 70 new homes to the area and we will work with partners like the Woodbourne Group to ensure the project shares the same principles as the Black Country Garden City project.”

The Black Lake scheme will also provide charging points for EV vehicles and offer bicycle storage. Woodbourne Group is also supporting “Secure By Design”, or SBD, a police initiative which encourages the business industry to adopt crime prevention measures in development design in a bid to help prevent crime, but also to help reduce the fear of crime, creating a safer and more secure environment for everyone to work and live in.