It’s turning into a momentous year in more ways then one for Henry Bellfield, director of Barberry Developments.
The man leading the plans to build a £50 million superstore on the site of Coventry’s former Royal Mail Sorting Centre recently celebrated a very special delivery of his own with the birth of his first child.
Bellfield junior arrived in the world within hours of the massive superstore scheme being unveiled at a public consultation. And if he’s having sleepless nights it’s more likely to be because baby needs feeding, rather than any concerns over the progress of the planning application.
The 33-year-old, who lives in Belbroughton, and the Barberry team have developed a first class working relationship with Coventry City Council since meeting them at MIPIM in Cannes in 2010. This year he joined the authority’s delegation at the annual property event as it seeks to put the city on the international stage.
It was that first meeting with the Coventry team that planted the seed of the idea of Barberry making a major investment in the city which is undergoing an ambitious regeneration programme under its Jerde Masterplan.
Henry said: “There is a real positive sentiment in the council and both officers and councillors are motivated to see great things happen. We believe our development fits in perfectly with the regeneration masterplan for the city centre which sets out the council’s vision for the future.”
Worcestershire-based Barberry purchased the 200,000 sq ft former Royal Mail Sorting Centre and adjoining properties, including 50 Bishop Street, last year and is seeking planning permission for a large and comprehensive retail-led scheme on the 3.5-acre site. The development will be known as Bishop Gate.
Henry said: “Following the closure of the Royal Mail Sorting Office this part of the city centre is in desperate need of new investment and redevelopment. The plans are hugely exciting and will create hundreds of jobs for local people. The scheme, which totals circa 400,000 sq ft, incorporates a supermarket superstore, a health and fitness club and associated on-site car parking.
“We took into account the views expressed during the consultation exercise and we submitted an application for outline planning consent for Bishop Gate in March. It’s a clear demonstration of our commitment to both the project and the city.
“There is a huge amount of work involved in reaching this stage with a project of this magnitude but we are now looking forward to delivering a scheme which will transform this neglected part of the city centre.”
If planning consent is granted next month (June) it is hoped that work could begin on site later this year. The existing Royal Mail building would be demolished. The proposals include removing the pedestrian bridge across the ring road to the canal basin and replacing it with a ground level crossing. The move would greatly improve the connectivity and “walkability” of the city centre and the canal basin.
After getting a degree in real estate at Reading University, Henry continued his property education at DTZ working in several departments but focusing on capital markets. During that time he worked alongside many well-known West Midlands property figures, including Justin Parker who is now managing director at Mucklow. After five years he left to join Barberry.
If the name Barberry isn’t familiar, its developments almost certainly will be. Henry’s father Jon Bellfield and business partner Paul Watson launched Barberry Developments in 1990. Since then it has delivered major office developments in Birmingham’s business district, including Temple Court, No 1 Colmore Square and One Colmore Row. Other projects include the acclaimed Hotel Du Vin and several retail and industrial developments across the UK.
The company has also just announced the completion of phase one of its £1 million transformation of the Phoenix Retail Park in Swansea, South Wales. The popular shopping destination is undergoing extensive improvements including full refurbishment of six retail units totalling 65,000 sq ft and a major redesign of the car park and access roads.
A fully-let, extensively refurbished retail investment property in Cheltenham has also recently exchanged hands in a £1.2million deal. Barberry sold the 6,800 sq ft property in Pittville Street, Cheltenham, to a family trust after carrying out a full renovation programme of the former TSB bank.
The company bought the vacant property in 2008 in a dilapidated state and transformed it into an attractive mixed-use scheme occupied by two retailers and a ladies-only gym with an annual rental income of £100,000.
Barberry decided to sell the property to recycle funds to reinvest in other opportunities it had earmarked in what Henry described as “a change of direction” for the Belbroughton-based developers. The rationale behind selling is to look to reinvest the proceeds into new opportunities.
Henry added: “We are beginning to make the first tentative steps back into the development arena. We are starting to see a number of good quality sites available at levels or within financial structures which are starting to look viable. The focus is more than ever on the occupier/end user and therefore we are seeking opportunities in locations and sectors where we have confidence in the occupational markets. The Barberry team has considerable experience in all the major property sectors and as a privately owned business with an established equity base we are able to offer a flexible and innovative approach every step of the way.”