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Developers lining up for stalled Mere Green scheme

Progress finally being made on long-awaited retail development in upmarket city suburb

Boarded up shops in Lichfield Road, Mere Green, which are set to be redeveloped
Boarded up shops in Lichfield Road, Mere Green, which are set to be redeveloped

Long-awaited work to transform an upmarket Birmingham suburb is a matter of months away after it was finally brought to the market.

Plans to overhaul Mere Green, in Sutton Coldfield, much of which has lain empty since 2007, have been delayed by the recession and the collapse of developer Castlemore in 2009.

However, it is now for sale, with offers of more than £6 million invited and work expected to begin early next year.

The Post understands that 55 developers and funds have expressed an interest in the scheme, which is being marketed by Cushman & Wakefield and already has Marks & Spencer and Boots signed up as tenants.

Mike Burden, a partner in the capital markets group at Cushman & Wakefield, said: "We are finally at a stage where we are in the market.

"The planning consent is there and we are ready to sell - we just need the right developer or fund to launch it."

He added: "Realistically, if someone is going to buy this they would look to commence on site early next year. It is unlikely that they wouldn't do this scheme."

Bob Ghosh, of architecture practice K4, which is also building a restaurant in 130 Colmore Row, has drawn up a masterplan which lays out the biggest overhaul of Mere Green in a generation.

The scheme, fronting onto Mere Green Road and Lichfield Road, includes 68,624 sq ft retail and leisure scheme space arranged across 11 separate units and will see a mix of buildings and car parks replaced.

The work was actually given the green light five years ago but has been delayed after Castlemore was put into administration by HSBC in February 2009.           

Cushman & Wakefield has been running the scheme on behalf of Cordatus, acting as asset manager for administrator PwC, and has agreed terms with Prezzo, Greggs, Caffè Nero, Explore Learning and Boots Opticians about signing up.

In all, 36 per cent is pre-let but heads of terms have been agreed to let 75 per cent of the space.

Mr Burden said it would be up to the buyer whether they wanted to complete these deals.

He said: "We have got them under offer, with terms agreed, but we are selling the properties with the benefit of planning consent and the leases with Marks & Spencer and Boots. If developers want different tenants, then fine.

"Whoever ends up building the scheme can progress with the people we have heads of terms agreed with or can come up with an entirely different line-up - it's up to them. I suspect most people would go with the people we have set up."

The project is expected to cost £6.7 million and bring in £1.2 million a year from rents.

Castlemore bought the three-acre site through its urban regeneration arm SpringUR for around £11 million in 2006 from Sutton Coldfield Municipal Charities.

Mr Ghosh added: "Although this has been a lengthy wait, the residents of Mere Green have shown remarkable patience and we will hopefully see activity on site within a few months."

 
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