Property Investment Guide – Birmingham

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The best place in the UK for businesses to invest

Birmingham has been recognised as the best place in the UK for businesses to invest and the second best place in western Europe, according to economic development experts.

Birmingham in situated in the West Midlands, and its economy is dominated by the service sector. The city is a major international commercial centre. It has the largest centre in Great Britain for employment in public administration, education and health and is ranked as a Beta world city by the World Cities Network.
The city is also an important transport, retail, events and conference hub. London and Manchester are both reachable by train in less than an hour and a half.

Being home to such major facilities as the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) and the International Convention Centre (ICC), Birmingham attracts 42% of all the UK’s conference and exhibition trade. Its metropolitan economy is the second largest in the UK with an estimated GVA of £24.1bn in 2013.

During 2012/13, Birmingham secured 41 inward investment projects the highest on record with a 52% rise against a national increase of 11%. The city is home to more than 32,000 companies, including nearly 700 international firms.

Birmingham is the second largest city by population outside London. Its population has increased by over 88,000 residents in the ten year period between the censuses of 2001 and 2011. It is currently undergoing a £750million regeneration project to tie in with the new HS2 station build.

Property prices in Birmingham are 11.9% below the national average, they have risen by 5% in the last year and are also 4% up on the pre-recession figures of 2007.

Birmingham International Airport is located less than 6 miles from the city centre. It handles almost 9 million passengers a year and is home to over 150 companies which employ more than 7,000 staff.

Economy & Employment

Birmingham’s conference facilities account for 42% of the UK’s total conference and exhibition trade.

Birmingham grew to prominence as a manufacturing and engineering centre, but times have changed. Its economy today is dominated by the service sector, which in 2012 accounted for 88% of the city’s employment.

Birmingham is the largest professional services hub in the UK, employing nearly 22,000 people over 21,000 companies.

FTSE 100 company (Severn Trent) and IMI plc (a FTSE 250) company have their corporate headquarters within Birmingham. With a further two companies in the metropolitan area making the largest concentration outside the south-east and London.

Major employers in the area are:

  • The National Express Group with 4,800 employees.
  • J Sainsbury PLC and Lloyds Banking Group both employ over 3,000 people each.
  • Kraft (Cadbury & Trebor), Royal Bank of Scotland, Whitbred PLC, Specialist Computer Holdings and Jaguar Cars all employ over 2,000 staff each.

Investment

Birmingham is the West Midlands’ business hatchery zone.

Birmingham has designated 26 city centre areas for the enterprise zone, with tax relief and simplified planning to lure businesses and investment. The strategy is already reaping rewards, with the city creating or safeguarding more than 4,000 jobs in 2012/13, boosting the region’s economy by £174 million.

During 2012 the number of registered businesses grew by 1.6%, the third highest in the UK for private job creations. In 2013 16,281 start-ups were registered. Birmingham has had the highest level of entrepreneurial activity outside London and 2014 saw a continuation of these growth figures, with 19,000 businesses created in the city in the past year alone – second only again to London.

The arrival of HS2 in 2026 (the high-speed rail service) will boost Birmingham City further and the West Midlands is estimated to gain as much as £3.1billion in output by 2037.

Birmingham has also been highlighted as the new beau of overseas property investors looking for investment bargains. The city has climbed 14 places up the rankings of the top European cities for property investment, according to an annual report published by the Urban Land Institute and PwC.

Transport

Air: Birmingham Airport is in the next borough, just 6 miles away, it offers services to many destinations in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Rail: Birmingham New Street is the national hub for CrossCountry, the most extensive long-distance train network in Britain. Virgin Trains will take you to, London Euston, Glasgow, Manchester and Edinburgh from here. Chiltern Railways operate an express service to London Marylebone alongside local and regional services.

Road: The city is served by the M5, M6, M40 and M42 motorways. The M6 passes through the city crossing the Bromford Viaduct, the longest bridge in the UK.

Bus: The National Express group operate from Birmingham coach station it is the hub for their UK operations. Local public transport in Birmingham is operated by Centro for the West Midlands county.

Education

Birmingham is big on education. It accommodates 295 primary schools, 73 secondary schools, 8 grammar schools, 27 special schools, 41 independent schools, 6 special independent schools alongside 7 further education colleges and 6 universities.

Birmingham’s six universities make it the largest centre of higher education in the country outside London.

The University of Birmingham: In the 2016 league tables they were ranked 17th in the UK. It was named University of the Year 2014 in the Times Higher Education awards. It is also ranked 4th in the UK for Graduate Prospects in the Times and the Sunday Times Good University Guide for 2015 (Higher than Oxford and the London School of Economics). In 2014-’15 It has a student population of around 21,000 undergraduate and 14,000 postgraduate students. The annual income of the institution was £577.1 million.

Birmingham City University (BCU) in particular has a significant role in the arts in Birmingham, it has strong links with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Shops & Leisure

Shopping: Birmingham’s Bull Ring is probably the most well-known shopping centre serving over, 37 million people during 2014, selling everything from cardigans to candy floss. The Indoor Market is famous for its selection of fresh meats, fish and produce. The rag market is there too, for your home furnishing and clothing delights. Additionally, the city centre houses the Grand Central shopping centre and the Great Western Arcade, so there is no shortage of retail therapy on offer here.

Dining: The culturally diverse city makes eating out like a gastronomic tour of the world, it’s foodie heaven. With enticing new restaurants popping up all the time, if you love to dine out, then you are in the right place.  With no less than four Michelin Star restaurants and plenty of others excellent choices to tempt, you really will be spoiled for choice.

Culture: Birmingham’s major cultural institutions – include the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre amongst others.

Green Spaces: Birmingham is home to 571 parks, more than any other European city, they total over 14 sq. mi of open space and there are over six million trees in the city. Sutton Park is a National Nature Reserve that covers over 2,400 acres in the north of the city, it is the largest urban park in Europe.

About the Author

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Gladfish. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids.

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