Building partners head in separate directions

A JOINT venture which delivered a series of urban regeneration schemes across Yorkshire and the North West has come to an end after almost 20 years.

Leeds-based developer St James Securities and CTP of Manchester, which worked under the banner of CTP St James, have gone their separate ways following a change in strategic direction for both companies during the economic downturn.

Together they delivered a number of award-winning complex urban regeneration schemes in partnership with public bodies but yesterday they said the joint venture had been “amicably dissolved” because the development model was no longer viable.

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Schemes included the Round Foundry in Leeds, the Waterfront Wakefield development in Wakefield and the St Paul’s Place development in Sheffield.

CTP has bought out St James Securities for an undisclosed sum and the joint venture’s assets were distributed between the two developers.

Oliver Quarmby, a director of St James Securities, and David Topham of CTP, said in a statement: “We have achieved a great deal together during the past decade, but we both felt that this was the right time to go it alone.”

St James Securities, which has nine staff, plans to develop a number of supermarket-led retail schemes in Yorkshire and the North East and last year appointed Paul Morris, a well-known figure in the city, to spearhead the expansion drive.

Mr Quarmby said: “It’s a polarised market at the moment. We are looking at a different sort of development to the past. The food store retail sector is where there is growth at the moment. There are wonderful opportunities out there.”

While many speculative office developments were stalled or scrapped during the recession, St James Securities took the unusual step of continuing to work on its two business park projects.

It scaled back the mill developments – Shaw Lodge Mills in Halifax and Wheatley Park in Mirfield – to make them more viable.

“Where there is existing stock which has been done speculatively, it’s very hard because of a change in the market,” said Mr Quarmby. “They were conceived in a different environment and for which you are relying on tenants and there are very few which are in an expansion frame of mind at the moment.”

He added: “We reduced the scale of these projects to include very small office suites. Rather than build big buildings we have built, say, eight suites of 1,000 sq ft and have done that speculatively.”

St James Securities said it had kept costs down by not employing a main contractor and project managing the developments itself. “By project managing things in-house, we have not had the overheads that go with a main contractor,” said Mr Quarmby. “We have delivered the same project at a lower price which means we can rent for less.”

It’s a strategy which he believes has worked.

St James’ set out to turn Wheatley Park, formerly known as Hopton Mills, into a rural office park. The recently restored 1812 building, a three-storey 5,800 sq ft building at Wheatley Park, is almost full.

The adjacent 18th century watermill has also been refurbished and extended. Almost all of the 25,000 sq ft office space there has already been let.

The firm has obtained planning permission for the conversion of a further two buildings to offices and they will be built out on a sequential basis.

The expanding waste recycling business Sunersol signed a deal to take 1,065 sq ft in the building, joining tenants including Normal TM, an interior architecture company, marketing consultants Purebrand Creative Communications and a science company.

Meanwhile, an historic gateway to the 10-acre Shaw Lodge complex in Halifax has been converted into 4,000 sq ft of office space. The grade II-listed Shaw Lodge House, has been transformed into 10 offices from 245 sq ft upwards. The tenants in the building include Halifax MP Linda Riordan and telecommunications firm TTG, while financial advisers Investing for Tomorrow has taken a 720 sq ft suite.

Mr Quarmby said: “The number of private enterprises is still growing. Now we have done the Shaw Lodge House, we are moving on to develop the design studio on the site. We are also working on the planning application for another phase of Wheatley Park.”

He added: “It’s very hard work. Having lots of small tenants is complicated and expensive to manage but we have to change with the times.

“We see it being hard for a long while yet. We hope we will get some new developments off the ground and bring them to fruition and we will continue to work hard to attract occupiers to our existing stock.”

The catalyst for regeneration

CTP St James was a joint venture property development company which was formed when St James Securities of Leeds and CTP of Manchester joined forces to deliver Granary Wharf in Leeds in the mid-1990s.

The Granary Wharf development was a 170,000 sq ft mixed use development delivered in a number of phases.

It comprised the restoration of a grade two listed canal side warehouse plus new office buildings and occupiers include Medical Protection Agency, Allied Dunbar, BWD Securities and The Pension Trust.

It proved to be a catalyst for further development along the River Aire, including the Round Foundry in Leeds, a collection of sites and buildings in the Holbeck area of Leeds.

The site was an important catalyst in realising regional development agency Yorkshire Forward’s and Leeds City Council’s vision to create Holbeck Urban Village.