With a successful track record converting property in Manchester – notably the Grade 2 development at Finlay’s Warehouse, which went on to win multiple awards after completion by a consortium that acquired the development mid-project, Green Pads chose Perth to make their first foray into new build development.
“I’m originally from Perth, so I know this area and knew it was now Scotland’s fastest-growing city, so we were interested as soon as we became aware that the plot at Jeanfield Road – the site of an old pub – was available to build flats.”
With financial backing from a local investor, Amar Okhai acquired the plot in October 2013, and this October will see the first sale in a development that comprises 21 flats in two blocks.
“We develop for entry level buyers; but as an independent developer, competing against nationally known firms in the new-build sector, we aim to offer an extra level of luxury compared to the standard specification. This quality is backed up by the reputation we’ve gained through our conversions in Manchester.”
Amar has found the development in Perth a straightforward process. “The local Planning team has been nice to work with: understanding and responsive. We’ve also had support from the Invest in Perth team, after being introduced through our local financial partner, Allan Smith at Development Finance Ltd.”
The business case was strong: the population profile in 2013 showed one-third of residents aged between 16 and 44, and the population in Perth is set to grow by 12% over the next 25 years – driven by the city’s strategic location. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Dundee are all within an hour’s drive, while companies based within the area include Highland Spring, SSE and Stagecoach. Another major employer is Aviva, which has a national Centre of Excellence in General Insurance based at Pitheavlis, employing more than 1,000 people.
The market in Perth is therefore attractive for developers – the city enjoys the highest employment rate of any Scottish city, at 76.5%. Construction is currently the second largest employer in the area (excluding the public sector), accounting for 7% of jobs* among the working age population of 133,000 in the Travel to Work Area.
“We’ve seen strong initial interest in the properties,” confirms Amar. There are two buildings on the plot, which is close to the city centre. “We have a three-floor unit on the road, with six flats, and behind it a four-storey block with 15 units. Prices range from £125,000 to £165,000.
“We want to establish a reputation in Perth for a high specification product and, with our show flat now open, we’re definitely looking for further opportunities in the area, and adding other new-build projects to Jeanfield Road.”
* Business Register and Employment Survey 2014.