27 October 2004
Following three successive senior appointments to Neil Grinnall Homes’ land team, the Worcestershire developer is pressing forward with an aggressive land acquisition strategy to become one of the leading developers in the Midlands.
In the past month the six-strong team has acquired five key sites in the East Midlands, Birmingham, Warwickshire and Worcestershire with end values totalling in excess of £150million. Whilst each site boasts a high proportion of residential development opportunities, Neil Grinnall Homes has diversified from its core business by selecting schemes with up to half a million square feet of space outlined for commercial development.
Neil Grinnall, Chairman of Neil Grinnall Homes commented: “To date, we have concentrated our core business on building high quality homes within Worcester. And, whilst we have every intention of expanding the number of residential plots we develop year on year, I want to use the solid reputation we have built up in the industry over the past 15 years to significantly boost our land acquisition successes.
“We now have one of the largest, most experienced land teams of any privately owned Midlands developer and I am confident that the sheer volume of new sites we are already in the process of acquiring will mean that we will only be able to hand select a small proportion that are suitable for us to build out. Meanwhile, we fully intend to exploit the design and planning expertise we have in-house to see each site through planning before deciding on a case by case basis as to whether a land disposal may be appropriate.”
The largest of the company’s recent land acquisition deals to be agreed in principal is for a 32acre site, which will eventually incorporate over 600 residential plots. Currently expected to exceed an end development value of £120million, the brownfield site will also accommodate around half a million square feet of offices, light industrial and storage units and business centre space.
Neil Grinnall Homes’ land team is lead by Land Director Russell Ranford who joined from Miller Homes and Planning & Development Director Grant Arbuckle who left retirement specialist Pegasus - having also previously been the Managing Director of McCarthy & Stone’s Midlands region - to take up the post almost a year ago.
The first of the three recent land team appointments consists of 34 year old Gary Pavey who has joined the company as an in-house architect, having worked for Westbury Homes’ central region since 2000. Having begun his career as an architectural technician at Twekesbury Borough Council 18 years ago, Mr Pavey brings invaluable technical and architectural design experience to the multi-disciplined team. 26 year old Andrew Izamis has joined as a land manager from Leamington Spa based Chartered Surveyors Reeves & Partners, having carried out valuations for a wide variety of commercial premises over the past three years as well as instigating development opportunities and overseeing lease renewal and licensee applications.
The latest new signing to the Neil Grinnall team is 33 year old James Strong, who also joins as a land manager. Although he does not have first hand experience of working for a developer, James has recently sold his own successful business and has an intimate knowledge of land trading, acquired from managing the multi-million pound property assets of the Jersey-based Strong family. Whilst he is keen to assert the family gene by venturing into property development, Mr Strong - also the stepson of the late airline and football tycoon Jack Walker - brings a rare set of commercial business skills to the re-energised land team.
Neil Grinnall added: “We now have the raw skills and in-house talent to not only seek out potential development sites that may have been overlooked by the more reactive PLC operators, but we have also specifically recruited James Strong as a non-property specialist because of his invaluable deal making ability. Not only do we now boast a full team of commercial surveyors, planners and technicians, having a dynamic businessman on board to close the deals has elevated us head and shoulders above the competition.”
Having established such a strong brand in Worcestershire, Neil Grinnall Homes has refocused its land acquisition strategy to incorporate the wider Midlands region, including Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, the Black Country and the West Midlands conurbation. Neil Grinnall boasts that his company will succeed where others will fail because it has such a flexible approach, avoiding onerous constraints and seeking out land opportunities from under one acre to in excess of 50acres in dense urban conurbations through to semi-rural suburbs.
Before the end of this calendar year, Neil Grinnall Homes’ land department is expected to formally announce acquisitions for large scale luxury apartment schemes to provide further city living opportunities in some of the Midlands’ most dynamic cities. The company is also on track to acquire redundant industrial sites in suburban areas to meet the intensifying demand for family houses and out of town apartments.
Based in new offices at Hadzor Hall in Droitwich Spa, Neil Grinnall Homes employs a dedicated team of 30 personnel. As the company continues to expand organically, it is working hard to develop a land portfolio and put up to 2,000 residential plots through the planning process in the next 12 – 18 months.
Neil Grinnall Homes is nearing completion with its flagship scheme of newly built and converted homes at the historic 54-acre Hadzor Hall estate in Droitwich Spa. Also nearing completion is the development of 41 luxury canalside apartments at Bath Road in Worcester city centre, overlooking the Diglis Canal Basin. Elsewhere in central Worcester on The Tything, the company is currently developing converted apartments and newly built homes at the site of the former Kay’s Catalogue Headquarters.
Neil Grinnall Homes’ plans for the future include the redevelopment of a flagship site overlooking the River Severn in Worcester city centre. With planning permission from the City Council’s Planning Committee for 106 apartments and complementary facilities at Newport Street and a neighbouring site, over £22 million is set to be invested. Also boasting a waterside setting in central Worcester is the conversion of Royal Worcester Porcelain’s landmark Albion Mill building. With planning consent for 78 apartments, Neil Grinnall Homes’ conversion of this derelict site will inject a further £15 million into the regeneration of Worcester’s Diglis Canal Basin.
Neil Grinnall Homes
01905 827 800
0121 643 8151