The area and wider surroundings were strongly promoted for regeneration prior to the 2012 Olympics, but struggled to take off due to complexities of multiple ownerships, landowner aspirations of enhanced development values and many with a desire to stay operating their own business in an area they love.
In 2014, we started acquiring land parcels and purchased six separate sites over two years. We worked in collaboration with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) to truly kick-start the regeneration and ensure the end product was something to be proud of. Planning was ultimately obtained to deliver 366 homes and 127,000 sq ft of commercial space.
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Construction works began in 2017 and since then, the economic climate for property development in London certainly changed and placed various hurdles for developers such as the Aitch Group to overcome.
From a development perspective, escalating prices in Shoreditch and east London were taking buyers and commercial tenants further east but, with it, a sense of uncertainty. We had to evolve and provide a tailored product that suited the aspiring buyer, including roof-top terraces, a full-time concierge and on-site, state-of-the-art gym. The next challenge was promoting the units in what was still an incredibly competitive market. Creating a focused marketing strategy was key to driving enquiries. We focused heavily on digital marketing and saw that 42% of enquiries were generated through social media vs 27% generated by the more traditional Rightmove and Zoopla channels.
Once the potential buyers visited the show suite, the importance of Help to Buy assistance became apparent. The Bagel Factory was one of the fastest-selling developments in the UK domestic market and saw over 80% of total buyers supported by the government incentive. However, coupled with Help to Buy, incentives were still a key driver to maintaining a high sales rate and offering SDLT soon became a key factor in ensuring deals were agreed, with 40% of purchasers taking advantage of the incentive. The development is now fully sold out and occupied.
From a commercial perspective, the core focus through the planning process was retaining the creative soul of the area. With the team’s wider experiences across London, it became apparent that tenant sentiment had changed, with a desire for a ‘plug-and-play’ offering with greater flexibility. Consequently, we acknowledged that we needed to upgrade the commercial space to Cat A and in some areas to a fully fitted Cat B space. Creative tenants are now moving in and further interest is brewing as the fit-out of the spaces completes for new members of the expanding community.
At Aitch Group, we are extremely proud of what has been achieved and are looking to repeat the success in other, similar areas of London. We understand the need to know the buyers and occupiers and to never sit still, always challenging the norm and looking for new and exciting offerings.