Harris Lamb Blog – Foreign Investment


Bruce Fenley

6th July, 2011.

Will a vision for greater long term foreign investment in the Midlands come to fruition?

By Bruce Fenley, Director.



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.

Over the last few months there have been a few news items concerning both calls for more foreign investment and rumours that we may see some announcements of foreign investment from outside the usual investors of North America and Europe.  There may be some real opportunities in the near future for some significant property development and economic stimulus. 

The leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby, spoke at MIPIM in March this year about finding strategies for UK regions to secure investment and funding to grow.  He cited the world first “memorandum of understanding” that Birmingham signed with Abu Dhabi to leverage finance. 

The links from the Midlands to Indian Investment principally from Tata via their Jaguar Land Rover and Corus operations are already reaping rewards and benefits across the Midlands.

This week we also saw the announcement that an Anglo-Chinese consortium could be formed to redevelop the former Austin Rover site at Longbridge in the West Midlands, according to business secretary Vince Cable.  Speaking at a local business event in Birmingham subsequent to a visit by China’s Premiere Wen Jiabao to the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation-owned MG plant, Cable said the Chinese delegation had been impressed with the regeneration taking place in the city and that a discussion had taken place about British and Chinese businesses coming together to further regenerate the area around Longbridge.

As the UK takes on a hopefully increasing role in the manufacturing and business finance sectors as part of our economic recovery then tapping into substantial sources of foreign investment will hopefully be a major driver.  The potential to build on the success of projects with JLR and their new engine plant looking likely to go to Wolverhampton will be vital.

The implications for property with what can be delivered from large scale investment means we need to be aware of the opportunities for world class involvement and investment locally.

For advice and assistance on all aspects of Commercial Property, Mathew would be happy to help. He can be reached on 0121 455 9455 or via email: matthew.pegg@harrislamb.com.       

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 thier employees.