Harris Lamb Blog – 4th May



Richard Fantham

4th May, 2011.BCU Logo

The Outlook for students – is the future bright?

By Richard Fantham, Director and Richard Jordan, Associate Head in the School of Property, Construction & Planning at Birmingham City University.



The route provides 27 miles of privately funded and operated highway from Coleshill in North Warwickshire to Cannock in South Staffordshire.  The road carried an average 47,592 vehicles on weekdays in the summer of 2010  and from my experience of the Toll Road, private cars form the vast majority of the traffic.

The M6 Toll Road was identified as an “M6 Relief Road” to alleviate congestion on the M6, which is something many people feel has not been adequately addressed and, with one way car tolls at peak periods of £5, this is something to be debated elsewhere.

From a property perspective the benefits have probably been more tangible than the traffic improvements.  The southern end of the Toll Road and the ‘T1’ junction close to J4 M6 coincided with some of the latter stage build projects at the Hams Hall National Distribution Park, a 430 acre business park which ranks as one of the best such employment parks in the UK.

Junctions T2 and T3 appear to largely function as commuter gateways for those living to the south and east of Sutton Coldfield from where national motorway access has improved considerably and the effect on house prices has been positive in these areas.

The access to Junctions T4 and T5 at Weeford and Lichfield has given a stimulus to residential and commercial property markets alike with possibly the biggest winner being the 300 acre Fradley Park, where some of the largest distribution buildings in the area have been built with more to come.  We are marketing the new Fradley Prologis Scheme with 70 acres and units to 700,000 sq ft available to be built and which will be on site shortly.

T6 Burntwood, a forgotten part of the West Midlands conurbation 10 years ago for business and for new build residential perhaps, has not quite been “transformed” but certainly “considerably improved”.

T7 & T8 and the Cannock access points to the Toll Road provided the catalyst that has helped to promote the former coal mining town into a first rate employment location.  Significant development of a cross section of employment type accommodation from offices to manufacturing and warehouse operations has bought vitality to Cannock which I think is largely due to the Toll Road passing the town’s doorstep.

For those drivers who still regularly sit stationary on the M6 between junction 8 and 10 bemoaning the state of the traffic and whether the Toll Road has done the job it promised, the tangible benefits are probably in property as much as traffic counts.  The commercial new build and viability of new schemes along the entire length of the Toll Road has been transformed since the road was built.

“So, how is the property industry these days?” is a question we are often asked, particularly by those aspiring to join the profession.  Whilst some of us, sadly, are old enough to remember previous recessions, for young people starting out in their career, these are no doubt challenging times. 

From speaking to Richard Jordan, Associate Head (Academic) in the School of Property, Construction & Planning at Birmingham City University, his views on this issue are most illuminating:-

“There is evidence that students (and their parents!) are becoming increasingly strategic in deciding which university courses to pursue. There is now a greater emphasis on vocational courses which lead to specific professional careers. At Birmingham City University (BCU), and in spite of the well-documented difficulties in the property and construction markets, graduates continue to find relevant jobs to enable them to progress to professional qualification.

“Within the degree programmes themselves, there is now a far greater emphasis on employability – for this is what the students and their future employers desire. At final year level, in particular, students engage in practice-based research projects in conjunction with real clients and it is the clients, along with the academic staff, who are directly involved in assessing the outcomes. In certain cases, the advice and recommendations of the students contribute directly and inform actual policy decisions which are implemented in the real world.

“These activities are designed to enhance the employability of students, and the evidence is that this is borne out by the numbers of graduates who enter the industry despite the recent downturn. It is anticipated that, within the property and construction sector, as firms and companies necessarily start to expand again, the demand for graduates will exceed supply. Given the skills with which such graduates are now equipped, this is even more likely to be the case. For these reasons, there is probably no better time to be entering degree programmes in areas related to property and construction!”

It is therefore encouraging to see that the academic view is positive.  It is always worth remembering that properties will always have problems to solve or ongoing issues to deal with, so even in a period of difficult economic conditions, our professional advice will be required by Banks, occupiers, landlords, investors and developers alike.

At Harris Lamb we continue to expand our range of services to adapt to the needs of our clients.  Our business continues to grow, both in terms of revenue and staff numbers, in order to ensure that we can meet the needs of our clients, and that we are always appropriately resourced with the best people. 

For further information on Birmingham City University please email richard.jordan@bcu.
 or visit the website, http://www.bcu.ac.uk/.     

Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article or weblog (‘blog’) are the personal views of the contributors and authors only and do not necessarily reflect the views of any named companies or their employees.