Foundations set for WPDG to thrive

Stuart Buckley, Managing Director of WPDG, discusses what the organisation has achieved so far this year, its plans for the future and reflects on the first two years since WPDG was formed.

It is two years since WPDG was formed and we’ve made huge strides during that time to deliver on our foundation value of realising the value and economic activity from Warwickshire County Council assets for the benefit of the residents of Warwickshire.

We set out to drive added value for the council through the delivery of developments and lettings that best meet the council’s objectives and those of local people and the area’s economy.

Our operation has grown from a phone and a laptop in a room, to building a talented, agile and efficient team of skilled professionals, who have been integral to our early success.

The team is a dedicated, focused resource dealing solely with matters related to property development and management. The council set us up to develop residential and commercial developments, which is a function which wasn’t available within the council, and we have made great strides in getting viable developments underway and on-site.

Commercial

One significant achievement so far this year has been getting on-site with our first construction scheme.

Sucham Park, in Southam, is a 42,000 sq ft industrial scheme and will deliver nine new commercial units. We partnered with Warwick based MCS Group on the scheme, continuing our commitment to working with regional businesses and bring further benefit to the regional economy.

This is the first of our commercial schemes to come through and our team are seeking to identify further opportunities for commercial schemes which can provide vital employment land here in Warwickshire.

Residential

We have also seen considerable progress on the delivery of residential developments and new homes for local people across the county – headlined by the creation of Develop Warwickshire, a joint venture between WPDG, Warwickshire County Council and leading developer Countryside Partnerships.

The creation of the joint venture has further boosted our agility in the residential sector and led to our first development in this area being undertaken less than six months on from the deal being struck.

Brookmill Meadows at Warton is now underway, with other schemes at Top Farm and Water Orton expected to be on site by the end of the year. This will see the delivery of nearly 1,800 homes across the county as a result of the joint venture with Countryside Partnerships.

It is a key partnership that is already enabling us to delivery sustainable, high-quality homes, creating new communities and benefitting existing local people across Warwickshire.

We have submitted reserved matters applications for Top Farm, the venture’s largest scheme at 1,700 homes, and a public consultation is underway for a further 59 homes in Water Orton.

Joint ventures of this nature can in many cases take several years before making a significant impact, but we set the foundations prior to completing the partnership to ensure that Develop Warwickshire was able to move quickly once it was formed.

Asset Management

In addition to our development work, our dedicated asset management team have been generating growth across the county’s existing commercial portfolio.

The county appointed Warwickshire Property Management Ltd (WPM), which is part of WPDG, to manage the lettings on hundreds of council owned properties.

From traditional commercial property for businesses, to nurseries and allotments, our team has been working across the portfolio and realising added value for the council.

This work has resulted in successfully increasing the rent role by 10% for the next nine months and has seen a diverse range of lettings from new allotment holders, new farm tenants and high-tech manufacturers.

What’s next?

The last two years have been focused on building the foundations which will give WPDG the chance to thrive.

We are looking forward to the future – continuing to further strengthen our team and accelerate our development activity.

This time next year we hope to have at least three or four schemes on site, and we are well on our way to doing that and further enhancing the lettable estate

Before the end of the year, we will be looking to be on-site for the first 600 homes at Top Farm, while also getting work underway on-site at Water Orton, and we will also be tendering for a partner on another homes scheme in Nuneaton.

Soon we will be announcing the first tenants at our flagship Sucham Park commercial scheme, with it expected to create 100 jobs in the region when completed.

We are in a great position and feel very positive about the opportunities that are ahead, opportunities that we will be ready to seize when they arise and in turn bring significant economic and community benefits to Warwickshire.