Marc Da Silva’s ongoing series of interviews with senior UK housebuilding figures this week takes him back to the capital, to the area surrounding Wembley Stadium, to speak to Paul Hogarth, Head of Residential at Quintain’s Wembley Park development.
What stage is Quintain currently at with the transformation of Wembley Park?
We have already been on a long and exciting journey at Wembley Park, yet we still have a long road ahead of us. Ten years of investment and seven years of development put us now roughly at the halfway mark. We always envisaged that the revitalisation programme would take 20 years and we believe we are still on target achieve that.
In rough terms 1.8million sq ft of construction has been completed to date, with a further 6.0million sq ft left to deliver, so the fun is far from over!
What will Wembley Park look like once the redevelopment works are complete?
It would be fair to say unrecognisable from 10 years ago. Wembley was just somewhere you would visit for a sport or music event in the 1990s. Now it’s really starting to take shape and you can picture the end result as more and more construction is completed.
Our architects have worked with the existing framework of buildings to blend with the location’s history while at the same time pushing the boundaries of creative design to give the area a new future. The designs create vibrant communities for people to live in, which will make them proud of their surroundings. It’s becoming a really exciting “must see” destination.
Why was change needed in Wembley?
Anyone visiting Wembley ten years ago would have found the place empty of life other than on events days. To put it mildly, it seriously needed a massive injection of energy design and investment to make it a 21st-century place to visit, work and live.
The area lacked forethought; there was no cohesion between buildings and there were great swathes of neglected land that was just used occasionally as parking when big events were on. Wembley was looking rather tragic when we first appeared on the scene.
It needed a company like ours, which is used to tackling huge projects, to find the funding and tackle the challenge head on. Not many companies have the vision, the tenacity or the resources to commit to a 20 year revitalisation project like this.
How many new build homes is Quintain building in Wembley Park?
The company holds outline planning consent for up to 5,000 new homes at Wembley Park, but that doesn’t mean we are building them all at once. The delivery is organised over a number of years as the new living district emerges and grows.
Some 520 are already finished and occupied. Construction of 473 homes at Emerald Gardens is due for completion in early 2016 and we launched our next phase (Alto Apartments) on 10 September, which will bring a further 362 homes to market.
What types of new homes will the scheme include?
We recognise different people’s needs and try to design schemes that offer choices to customer. We want to attract first-time buyers and renters to our scheme, who are looking to secure their first independent living arrangements. At the same time we want to provide larger-sized two- and three-bedroom properties that have very modern facilities for those with family needs or just wish to enjoy the space and the lifestyle of living here.
In all of our developments we have included one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, which we hope will suit many budgets and tastes.
How much does a new home in Wembley by Quintain cost to buy?
With a scheme of this size we have always got a range of properties and prices from £366,000 for one-bedroom units, and £460,000 for two-bedroom properties, up to £800,000 for three-bedroom apartments.
Launching on September is our newest and, with 21 levels, our tallest building, Alto Apartments, which is priced from £375,000 for one-bedroom and £495,000 for two-bedroom units.
Why should more property buyers consider buying in this part of north London?
There are so many reasons but the ones that really stand out for me are; the Wembley Park scheme is priced and designed to appeal to modern London lifestyle and is proving to be really is in the sweet spot for a range of reasons to professional London property buyers.
What’s more, prices and designs appeal to those with busy lifestyles who want convenience modern secure and exciting living 20 minutes away from central London.
Also, you get Zone 2 transport connections at Zone 4 prices. You have some amazing landmarks on your doorstep – the SSE Arena, the Stadium and new London Designer Outlet, which has a multitude of discount shops, bars and restaurants.
There is also the fact that you are just £20 away from Heathrow by taxi, you will be connected to 1GB of world class broadband from the moment you move in – there are few places that can boast that in London – and if you are a night owl the Jubilee line is about to run all night at weekends.
What are housing market conditions currently like in and around Wembley?
Savills are the selling agents for Quintain at Wembley Park and the results from their research team says: “As of the latest Land Registry data prices in the borough of Brent are 36% above their 2007/08 peak. Transaction levels are far lower than pre-2007/08, sitting at 63% of their long-term average. The average price for a property in Brent as of June 2015 is £438,691.”
Savills go onto say; “Our current mainstream London forecast, published in October 2014 is for five-year price growth of 10.4%. This forecast is based on the prospect of rising interest rates and mortgage regulations limiting growth over the next five years. Mortgage regulation will restrict people’s ability to get on or move up the housing ladder, whatever the banks and building societies may aspire to lend.
“On affordability grounds alone there is limited capacity for house price growth in the mortgaged part of the London market over the next five years, but we are not forecasting price falls because of the fundamental shortage of supply.
“However, it should be acknowledged that since we released our forecast, three new factors must now be taken into account: Stamp Duty Land Tax changes; the mortgage rate ‘war’; and the forecast Bank of England base rate rise being delayed.
“Overall we expect that the recent SDLT and mortgage rate changes will not have a persistent positive effect on affordability. However, the outlook for interest rates may well have an effect on our forecasts. Later interest rate rises may provide more capacity for price rises in the market in the short term.”
What is Quintain’s USP?
To steal the words from our website: “We will achieve our vision of becoming a leading London development and investment specialist by delivering an excellent experience as well as excellent results.”
For me, I love the fact it says we will – and indeed we do. It shows our determination. Quintain has a 23-year history and we have transformed assets across the capital. We build in places to create destinations that people want to live in, where companies want to grow and neighbourhoods can come alive.