May 2024


Coventry and Warwickshire shine together at UKREiiF

“UKREiiF provided an excellent opportunity for a range of partners and teams to come together to promote the strong investment environment in the county of Warwickshire, and the excellent support available here for those wanting to invest in commercial or residential development."  

Developers and local authority partners came together with Invest Coventry & Warwickshire to showcase a range of opportunities and a full programme of activity at a leading UK property and development conference and exhibition.
The event attracted a record 13,000 delegates to the UK Real Estate Infrastructure and Investment Forum (UKREiiF) in Leeds. UKREiiF brought together the public and private sectors, including national, regional and local Government, commercial and residential developers, investors and a range of agents and intermediaries.
The event coincided with the announcement of the first loan agreement from Warwickshire County Council’s Property & Infrastructure Fund (PIF), of £9.7million to Stockton-based developer Wigley for their Warwickshire Connect light industrial schemes. 
The showpiece of the event for Warwickshire was the ‘Warwickshire Creating Places’ panel session, hosted in the Midlands Engine Pavilion. Warwickshire County Council, arms-length property company Warwickshire Property & Development Group (WPDG) and private sector partners discussed key sectors driving commercial development in the county and examples of partnerships making these developments successful.
Speakers included Ian Harrabin from Complex Development Projects who are working with Warwick District Council to bring forward grade A office and workshop space in central Leamington Spa, most recently helping redevelop the former United Reform Church into the new ‘The Fold’ base for digital marketing company Cogent. 
HORIBA-MIRA Future Mobility Cluster Development Lead Sarah Windrum spoke about recent investment into MIRA Technology Park from WMCA, the Japanese parent company, and investment company Evans Randall to create new test facilities, space for SMEs and the new 2.3m sqft MIRA South Site for larger scale manufacturing. 
Joe Skinner, Development Director at Tritax Symmetry presented on their work to develop Symmetry Park Rugby over the last 10 years, including a brand new 1m sq ft Campus for US company Iron Mountain, and a further 1m sqft of spec build in development.
George Richards, Senior Director at global property advisors CBRE, shared his experiences of delivering the Property Infrastructure Fund (PIF) on behalf of Warwickshire County Council. This included insights into some exciting projects coming through and the recent deal made with developer Wigley which will deliver two schemes for SMEs, starting with Warwickshire Connect Endemere, 20 units for sale ranging in size from 1,000 to 3,000 sq ft to help meet growing demand for commercial space.
The second panel ‘Partnerships in Development’ included: Phil McHugh for Countryside Partnerships, who is working with WPDG to deliver some of the 2,000 new homes promised around the county, including affordable and rental homes; Jo Russell, Planning Director from Stoford, developers of Leamington’s Spa Park and Redditch Gateway near Studley; Ian Romano, Vice President and Head of Land and Development at Prologis; and Stuart Buckley, Managing Director of WPDG. 
The panels revealed that 14m sqft of big box units (of 100,000 sq ft or more) had been delivered from 60 units and 14 developments since 2010, major schemes delivering 15-20,000 jobs, with a likely split of 50:50 between logistics and manufacturing. 
The county also took part in some partner and main stage panel events, including ‘The Battle for Talent’ on the main Bury Theatre stage, looking at a range of factors affecting sourcing and retaining talent. WCC chief executive Monica Fogarty, speaking on the panel, explained that tech talent is drawn not only to city centres like London and Birmingham, but also to market towns like Leamington Spa with its thriving video games and digital creative cluster, and tech parks like MIRA Technology Park, near Nuneaton, and University of Warwick Innovation Campus in Wellesbourne. 
Monica Fogarty also took part in the West Midlands Investment Zone panel in the West Midlands Pavilion, the first opportunity to talk detail at a major property show event about the advanced manufacturing-led IZ for the region. Coventry & Warwick Gigapark, formed of four sites including the battery cell gigafactory site Greenpower Park, forms the Coventry & Warwickshire part of the IZ. 
Warwickshire sites feature heavily in the relaunched West Midlands Combined Authority Investment Prospectus and Midlands Engine Investment Prospectus. Those sites are MIRA Technology Park South Site, Transforming Nuneaton, Coventry & Warwick Giga Park, Greenpower Park, Rugby Town, Creative Quarter Royal Leamington Spa, University of Warwick Innovation Campus and Stratford-upon-Avon.
Invest Coventry & Warwickshire also launched an updated Investment Prospectus featuring the larger sites above, together with 28 other sites from across the city and county, with 3m sq ft of industrial space on the market, 390,000sqft of grade A office and 175ha of allocated employment land.
Warwickshire Property Development Group, Warwickshire County Council’s arms-length property company, exhibited together with Invest in the West Midlands Pavilion. The property company, formed in 2021, was there to promote its award-winning joint venture with Countryside Partnerships which is a unique 30-year partnership which in the first few years will commence the delivery of nearly 2,000 new homes across the County, together with other residential and commercial developments, including its nine-unit 42,000sq ft Sucham Park in Southam which is now almost fully let.  
UKREiiF was also an excellent opportunity to promote the Property & Infrastructure Fund (PIF) which supports the provision of sites and premises designed to help drive the growth of the local Warwickshire economy. The fund from Warwickshire County Council which can loan between £500,000 and £10m for the development of new or commercial property and infrastructure. The fund is being administered by CBRE on behalf of Warwickshire County Council and is the property strand of the Warwickshire Investment Fund (WIF).  
The city and county are a leading area for foreign direct investment (FDI) - the area welcomed 55 investment projects for 2022-3. The Coventry market, which includes the county of Warwickshire, has seen record lettings for industrial in recent years, with over 5m sq ft of industrial and warehouse space let in 2022, according to according to property intelligence company CoStar. Meanwhile, the office market in Warwickshire has seen record rents achieved at major redevelopments like The Woods in Warwick and Bedford Street Studios in Royal Leamington Spa. 
Cllr Martin Watson, Portfolio Holder for Economy at Warwickshire County Council, said: “UKREiiF provided an excellent opportunity for a range of partners and teams to come together to promote the strong investment environment in the county of Warwickshire, and the excellent support available here for those wanting to invest in commercial or residential development.  
"Our offer at UKREiiF included the new £40m Property Infrastructure Fund, and we were delighted to work alongside CBRE to promote it to the property community at this major show in Leeds. The property and infrastructure fund is a flexible investment scheme that can be deployed to help the development of new land or commercial space to support employment and the growth of the economy in Warwickshire." 
Jo Russell, Planning Director at Stoford, said: "I was delighted to share with the audience the details of Stoford's partnership working with Coventry and Warwickshire Local Planning Authorities, stakeholders and the community. Our delivery of new commercial floorspace is enhanced through the meeting of shared objectives, and we continue to enjoy investing and creating jobs in this local area."
Sarah Windrum, Future Mobility Cluster Lead at MIRA Technology Park, said: “We were excited to attend UKREiiF in partnership with Warwickshire County Council to showcase MIRA Tech Park: our past success attracting global tenants as an Enterprise Zone since 2012 and our future ambition to deliver new advanced manufacturing South of the A5. Our property solution has had to evolve as our tenants have developed and commercialised their new technologies and we are thrilled to announce our latest pre-let to existing tenant Warwick Acoustics which will be our first manufacturing onsite. We are proud to be a leading global cluster for sustainable mobility and that wouldn’t happen without the support of key partners like Warwickshire.”
Joe Skinner, Development Director at Tritax Symmetry, said: “It was fantastic to join Warwickshire County Council for their panel ‘Creating Places for Growing Sectors’ at UKREiiF. We have been working with Warwickshire for over 10 years and were delighted to be given the opportunity to talk about our exciting new logistics park, Symmetry Park Rugby. We look forward to continue working with the county and to keep investing in the local area, supporting the economy and supporting the creation of a variety of new jobs.” 
Ian Harrabin, Managing Director of Creative Development Projects (CDP), said: "This year’s UKREiiF was a busy event. There are ambitious plans and across the West Midlands and an eagerness to get on with it.  Construction cost increases, high interest rates and new regulations have been difficult for the industry but with inflation hopefully down the longer-range forecast is looking brighter.  As ever the close partnerships with local authorities remain vital, and we look forward to building on those."


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