A Birmingham apartment scheme that fell foul of the recession after the developer went bust leaving dozens of contractors out of pocket has been resurrected by a London outfit.
The scheme – formerly known as Horizon – on the New Coventry Road in Sheldon sat idle for almost three years after White Fire went bust when Bank of Scotland pulled its funding on the 140-apartment development.
However London-based Locksbridge Developments acquired the site from administrators last summer and later this year the company is launching the first 46 of the completed apartments.
The scheme has been renamed by Locksbridge as Solihull Heights with local contractor Mayfair Construction constructing the two-phased development that will take a total of 18 months to complete.
Akbar Sheikh, managing director of Locksbridge, said the project was one of many that had fallen foul of bad lending practices and the banking crisis caused by the credit crunch.
He said: “This was one of those projects banks continued to throw money at when in the end the people who ended up losing out were the contractors and sub-contractors who weren’t paid – there was just too much of this kind of lending going on in 2007 and 2008.
‘‘We felt that this was an opportunity for us to deliver the project for the local community as this is a well-known site in the area which has been such a negative story and we are looking forward to changing that.
‘‘It has not been easy. Much of the site has been exposed for several years so had to come down, there was vandalism, drug use and so on. It had been a real eyesore so we have had local residents thanking us for taking on the project.”
Locksbridge Developments is a recently formed company owned by Sheikh Holdings, which together with the Sheikh family office, has interests and investments in property, care homes, pharmaceuticals, serviced offices, and financial management.
The most well-known amongst these is CareTech Holdings – launched on the London Stock Exchange in 2005 – which provides specialist social care services and has been operating in the care sector for 18 years and has a number of facilities in the region.
Mr Sheikh added: “Locksbridge Developments was formed in some respects as a response to some of the stalled developments we have come across in the last few years. Our family’s main holdings is CareTech which primarily provides facilities to care for people with disabilities so we have always had good relations on the property side.
“I studied in Warwick and worked with KPMG in Birmingham so this is a region that is familiar to me. We are a London-based developer but with a real eye on the regions whereas many traditional developers are focused on London where capital growth is stronger but we think in the long term there are other quality areas to invest.
‘‘We are long term players and want to work with local communities. New build has struggled recently and we are probably the only people doing this in this area.”
Locksbridge’s current property interests has a gross development value in excess of £125 million and includes two other schemes that are under way including a conversion of a Grade II-listed mill in Somerset into 223 homes, which is also a site where the developer went into administration – and a site close to the Olympic stadium which will be a mixed use development.