Manchester is something of a property developer’s sandpit right now, with a huge amount of development going on and much more in planning.
I’ve talked to three leading developers who are transforming the Manchester property scene to find out what they’re doing here, how they’re doing it, and to get their predictions for the property future of the city.
With a degree in civil and structural engineering and a successful construction company in his native Iran, Khoy moved to Hale in south Manchester in 2003 and started to develop large homes for the area’s sporting and business elite.
Drawing on his engineering background and a keen eye for contemporary design Khoy believes that nothing should be considered off limits.
Altin has established a reputation for design excellence and exceptional build quality. Their properties grace some of the area’s most desirable addresses, and have won many awards including three What House? awards.
Khoy had to re-think his strategy after the 2008 recession. Rather than just focussing on speculative build ‘mega mansions’ a new concept was developed – Altin’s Bijou Collection.
Bijou Collection homes are typically found in small developments, are more modestly proportioned but come with the same level of exterior styling, interior design and space planning as Altin’s larger homes.
Recent projects include The Place, Sale, a development of 24 contemporary luxury family homes offering a 21st century take on the area’s traditional Victorian homes.
Today Altin are firmly back in the mega mansion business. No.1 Hilltop, Hale, is their most aspirational build to date. The property is of contemporary design and will feature a highly sophisticated specification including a luxury leisure area and swimming pool with a price tag circa £5.5m.
“The south Manchester and Cheshire areas are hugely popular residential markets with excellent transport links including Manchester Airport, some of the best schools in the country and stunning countryside – what’s not to like?
“Manchester is on our doorstep and has a well-deserved reputation as a vibrant city.
“We are also fortunate to have many football and other sporting clubs in the area, attracting many international sporting superstars.”
“I can only see the market going from strength to strength. The city is constantly evolving with a thriving business and sporting community so the level of demand for our properties will continue to grow.”
Harlex Property was formed in October 2017 by James Nicholson and Palmer Capital.
Nicholson has over twenty years property development experience across all asset classes. At the beginning of his career he worked in the development and asset management sectors with CLS Holdings in London. He then developed a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the property market in the North West as Development Director with Kier Property and prior to that Argent Estates.
Nicholson has managed the acquisition and delivery of a range of high profile development projects across the region. Within Manchester he has developed office schemes including One St. Peter’s Square, 81 Fountain Street and 11 York Street.
Harlex have recently exchanged contracts to purchase their first site, a circa 7.5 acre site in south Manchester for 80 houses. The company is also working on acquiring two sites for speculative industrial/logistics development in Cheshire and Merseyside, with a desire to add a further site in Greater Manchester when the right opportunity presents itself.
Nicholson tells me there are three areas of the market where Harlex is focussed on more acquisitions: “Firstly, city centre offices. I believe that there will be more of a focus on quality of product and location. Tenants will want to take less space in future with more flexibility. Therefore new office developments should be designed with future flexibility in mind, both in terms of space and servicing strategy.
“I expect office leases will shorten and the days of 15 year lease terms might be over. As such, those with the most flexible office buildings in prime locations will see occupancy levels remain highest. Think of office landlords becoming more like BTR/PRS landlords with terms between 1-5 years.
“Another asset class where we will see continued growth will be urban logistics and last mile delivery centres. As more shopping is online the demand for delivery centres in and around the North West will continue to grow. Harlex are keen to acquire sites of 4 acres plus to deliver well-located, high quality developments.
“Harlex are also keen to assist housebuilders in delivering some of the targeted 300,000 homes per year. Through our funding partner Palmer Capital, we have raised a fund focussed solely on acquiring land without planning consent on an unconditional basis. This fund can be seen as an enabler to the housing market and will purchase sites that ordinarily would not be bought by the housebuilders, because of the risk through the planning process, nor would they be bought be other developers, as they are typically not suitable for employment uses.”
Price began his career at the company in 2005 as a sales executive and, year after year, grew his role in the business.
His ambition and determination to support the growth of the business has led to his integral role in Select Property Group’s success. A graduate from Sheffield Hallam University’s business school, he is now based in Dubai, but is a Manchester thoroughbred through and through.
Select Property Group has brought some of the most luxurious properties to Manchester’s skyline and in doing so set the bar high. The company has drastically improved student accommodation by creating communities within its properties, and transformed the serviced apartment offering with its CitySuites brand.
Fully completed developments include Vita Student First Street, Vita Student Circle Square and CitySuites while Affinity Living Riverside, Affinity Living Riverview, CitySuites 2, Origin Homes Laurence Place and Origin Homes Exchange Point are under construction.
“Our research has shown that a huge 77% of overseas investors believe the UK is one of the top destinations for property investment. However, it’s becoming clear to everyone in the industry that London just can’t offer the levels of growth it once did – regional cities are winning and Manchester is leading the way.
“The size of Manchester’s economy and its chronic undersupply of luxury apartments make it a leading place to invest – that’s why we have such a focus here currently.”
“We feel very positively about the future of Manchester. Some voices are predicting doom and gloom, but the facts speak for themselves. There is a massive growth in the UK for renting.
Price is a firm believer in the growth of renting as a lifestyle choice, stressing it is incumbent on developers to recognise that: “People aren’t renting just because they can’t afford a mortgage; they’re renting as lifestyles are changing. Manchester is a booming city with huge businesses located here and others eyeing up the city to support their growth.
“We’re seeing a healthy growth of the rental market in Manchester. It’s a maturing market, but I think the demand for exceptional quality and standards will continue to grow. People will be looking for more than just an apartment to live in. They want communities, thriving social lives and everything that brings with it. That’s an exciting potential for us and other quality property companies in the city. We don’t just deliver buildings – we deliver communities.”