Birmingham is undergoing a revolution. Britain’s second city has seen an extensive amount of regeneration in recent years with millions of pounds from both the public and private sector being poured into the city.
The continued growth of Birmingham since the start of the millennium has seen extensive regeneration projects, such as the Bullring Shopping Centre in 2001 and Birmingham New Street Station’s transformation in 2015, redefine Birmingham as one of the UK’s most modern and important cities attracting more people than ever before.
With five major universities located in the city - the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, Aston University, Newman University and University College Birmingham - the Midlands city has become a hotspot for students, with a student population of more than 65,000 forming 6% of Birmingham’s entire population.
As it prepares to become the central gateway between the north and the south in the UK, as well as solidifying its status as one of Britain’s biggest and most influential cities, here are just 5 reasons to consider Birmingham and its student accommodation property market as the location for your next property investment.
1 – Birmingham City University Moves South
Birmingham City University (BCU) is the second largest university in the city, attracting more than 23,000 students to enrol in its courses.
Currently split across three campuses, BCU’s £260 million regeneration plans will see the university consolidate its three campuses into just two, closing its City North campus and transferring the School of Education to its City South Campus as well as other facilities to its City Centre campus by 2017.
The move will allow the university to consolidate its resources, giving it a stronger base from which to expand its facilities and channel redevelopment funds into projects such as the new £41m School of Life Sciences building that is set to be constructed at the City South campus.
The closing of the City North site sees the majority of university campuses in the city now move to the south west of the city centre, with BCU’s City South campus and the University of Birmingham’s main campus both located in Edgbaston.
With an influx of new students expected in the area, demand for high quality student accommodation is anticipated to increase, as students prepare to move from the north of the city and towards Edgbaston, creating a larger student community in the area.
2 – ‘A World Class City’
In addition to offering students a promising future through extensive regeneration plans at universities in the city, Birmingham City Centre is also set to undergo a wide reaching development programme of its own.
As the driving force behind Birmingham’s continued mission statement to ‘create a world class city centre’, the Birmingham Big City Plan is a comprehensive manifesto committing to improving the facilities and infrastructure within Birmingham, but without losing any of the unique character that the city possesses.
Covering over 800 hectares of the city, the Big City Plan, which is set to complete in 2031, aims to see the population of Birmingham grow by 100,000, create new jobs to accommodate for the growth, provide greater transport links within the region and beyond, as well as transforming the physical image of the city.
The impact of the plan will be wide reaching but is particularly important to students and young people in the area. With 37% of Birmingham’s population under 24 years of age, Birmingham has the youngest profile of any city in Europe, with students forming a significant proportion of this demographic.
One of the focal points within the Big City Plan is the continued development taking place within South Edgbaston and Selly Oak, the locations for Birmingham City University’s City South campus and the Main and Selly Oak campus of the University of Birmingham.
The ongoing transformation plans at the University of Birmingham’s main campus, as well as BCU’s move to the City South campus, means that students are set to be amongst the first to benefit from the city’s 20 year improvement plan.
3 – Banking on Birmingham
As a part of the wider plans to build upon the successes that Birmingham has experienced since the beginning of the new millennium, the Big City Plan also includes plans for a dedicated Enterprise Zone, which will see the addition of more than 700,000m² of new office floor space and 600,000m² dedicated to leisure, recreation and commercial businesses.
The city’s commitment to bringing new business to the city has already seen results with HSBC announcing that they will be moving their UK retail operations to Birmingham in 2018, transferring from their current offices in London. The move will see 1,000 job roles moving north from the capital and into Birmingham.
The move is representative of the wider government initiative to spread the balance of business throughout the UK and not just in London, with businesses benefitting from the exciting opportunities cities such as Birmingham offer, procuring high quality office space available at a fraction of the cost of equivalent buildings in London and the South East.
The arrival of further national and multi-national corporations set to provide the 5,000 graduates produced by the city’s 5 universities with a broader range of opportunities in the city, as they are able to seek employment with large multinational companies without having to move to London after they graduate.
With greater employment opportunities becoming available within the city, it can be expected that an even greater number of domestic and international students will look towards the city for degree level education, driving the need for high quality student accommodation in the area.
4 – Birmingham: Gateway to the North and the South
As the UK’s leading businesses begin to look outside of London for places to base their headquarters, swift and efficient accessibility to partners and consumers is more important than ever before.
In 2012, the government announced their approval of plans for the construction for a new high speed rail network that would link London with Birmingham and the north of England in Leeds and Manchester, bringing together the UK’s largest and most influential cities.
Under new plans, the currently disused Curzon Street station will receive a new lease of life as it becomes the new central hub for HS2 services to and from London and the North. The plans will see the new Curzon Street station become one of the city’s newest architectural landmarks, with extensive regeneration of the surrounding area set to see an extension made to the city’s tram system to reach the new station, and the creation of a new park nearby.
Located directly beside the City Centre Campus for Birmingham City University, which is set to see expansion of its facilities in 2017, students at the campus are set to enjoy a range of benefits from the redevelopment of Curzon Street as retail and commercial businesses will look to capitalise on the introduction of this new transport hub.
According to estimates from the Department of Transport, journey times to London from Birmingham will be nearly halved, with train journeys taking just 49 minutes to reach Birmingham Curzon Street instead of the current 1 hour 24 minutes that it currently takes to travel to Birmingham Interchange.
HS2’s second phase will see Birmingham connect to Manchester and Leeds via Crewe with two separate high speed tracks leading to each city, further reducing journey times between Birmingham and the planned Northern Powerhouse, making the Midlands city the central hub of Britain’s new high speed rail network.
5 – A City on the Rise
Following considerable investment in the city throughout the 2000s, Birmingham has been able to capitalise on the post-recession recovery more effectively than most areas of the UK.
According to Knight Frank’s Birmingham 2015 Report, economic activity grew by 2.3% and 3.3% in 2013 and 2014 respectively, with the UK average standing at 1.8% and 2.9% in the same period. Outperforming the rest of the Midlands and the UK, Birmingham’s growth has been largely attributed to a continuation of the ideas behind the Big City Plan to regenerate the city, create new job roles for residents and re-develop areas throughout the city.
With international interests beginning to look outside of London and towards the UK’s regions for more favourable returns, Birmingham and its continued successful growth is attracting the attention of investors from around the world.
The Emerging Trends in Real Estate® report published by PWC in January 2016 placed Birmingham as the 6th best city for investment property prospects in Europe – the highest UK city on the list, with London failing to make the top 10.
With HS2, the continued success of the Big City Plan and a proven ability to attract big companies to the city, Birmingham is presently attracting a great deal of confidence amongst property investors worldwide.
The growth of the student accommodation market in the UK over the past few years has generated exceptional interest from property investors, with a record £6 billion worth of investment in 2015 and making Birmingham a large target for property investors looking to capitalise on the city’s growth.
Immediate income from completed, operational and tenanted developments such as Edgbaston Place allows property investors to benefit from the popularity of this student city straight away. With a significant amount of investment taking place in the city over the next 15 years, now is an excellent time to capitalise on the exponential growth taking place in Birmingham.