Challenges, opportunities and the potential for transformation on the south coast.
Having worked in this area for many years, the development sector in 2019 felt like driving a car with the handbrake half on. Now that national politics has finally moved on there appears to more certainty in the market, and we hope that the proverbial handbrake can be finally released in 2020 and beyond.
Our projects are typically in the commercial, housing or public sectors. Commercial projects are not always the most glamorous but it is by far the most stable and reliable sector. Indeed, it was largely responsible for us getting through the recession between 2008-10.
Like housing, there is permanent demand. Businesses want to upsize, downsize, consolidate into more efficient premises, expand on to new sites, or shrink and release some land for sale. Unlike housing, decisions are not solely based on consumer confidence, but with longer term strategic thinking in play.
Our commercial work ranges from the development of business units at Adanac Park in Nursling, to trading space for Travis Perkins. We are also leading on a new campus headquarters for pump business Selwood in Chandlers Ford. We expect the commercial sector to continue to produce new projects throughout 2020, and hope we will enjoy a significant share of this.
The housing sector can be more volatile often directly reflects the national picture. But we enjoy the demands of this area of our work. Unlike commercial or industrial properties, everyone, naturally, knows a lot about housing. Their experience of housing, and intimate relationships with places they have lived, visited or seen, mean that opinions are quickly offered, and often deeply felt.
A great strength of our two main housebuilder clients is their willingness to go the extra mile in terms of engaging with neighbours and local stakeholders. Local authorities throughout the area are under immense pressure to allocate and approve housing schemes. Some, like Eastleigh, is doing much more than that and proactively acquiring and developing its own sites in order to ensure quality and speed of delivery. Our housing clients include small landowners, large estates, regional housebuilders, housing associations and urban specialists, and we see this are of our business growing in step with the sector through 2020.
Local authorities across the central south, like Eastleigh, have some major projects of its own in the pipeline for 2020. Towards the end of 2019, Portsmouth City Council began to market the huge opportunity at Tipner to create a new sustainable neighbourhood. Boyle+Summers is currently working with the Council on a separate regeneration master plan for the city centre. The aim is to introduce new uses in place of shrinking retail demand whilst providing more opportunities to live in close proximity to the facilities and amenities of the centre.
In 2018 we worked with Feria Urbanism to produce a vision for Bournemouth Town Centre. At the same time Bournemouth Christchurch Poole (BCP) were gearing up to give the green light to the £150m Winter Gardens development, the largest Bournemouth Development Company project to date with more than 350 flats, on top of new leisure and retail space. Poole will become the next focus for BCP with a new master plan and renewed determination to regenerate the much-loved but long abused town centre.
Finally, Southampton is set to dramatically change the look and feel of the areas north and south of the train station, with the latter benefitting from a significant Council-led commercial scheme. Flowing from this will be another major master plan area leading to the waterfront – the Mayflower Quarter.
Overall 2020 is looking promising, with activity and energy across the board. In part this seems to be because the Brexit stalemate has been unlocked. In part it is also because central government has seen that the public is tired of austerity, and the funding taps have been turned on again. In part it is also because, regardless of the politicians, most people, organisations and businesses want to get on with living life.