BWL Legal supports Wates House redevelopment for Curationtech
At the beginning of April, the BWL Legal team set off from Birmingham in the early hours to meet an important client at their Wates House site in Fareham (a town between Southampton and Portsmouth).
The site is the former headquarters of the construction firm Wates Ltd, purchased by BWL’s client, Curationtech Holding Ltd (a JV). Curationtech is undertaking redevelopment of the existing commercial property into 29 apartments with a high-end contemporary design.
After a delayed journey (thanks to the rush hour traffic), we arrived; we were welcomed by a group of construction workers on their tea break, along with Curationtech’s controller, Hietesh Shridhar, and BWL’s Quantity Surveyor Francesca Nottingham.
We put on our PPE and followed Hietesh as he gave us a grand site tour.
The site was a typical construction site, with scaffolding reaching up to 5 stories high and the inside of the first two floors were being cleared and plastered in preparation for internal works.
The building currently has two approved plans:
- Permitted development allowing the conversion of the office building into 24 individual residential apartments.
- Airspace planning to build an extra two stories on the shorter right side of the building, allowing space for five additional apartments.
Hietesh continued to show us around the building, and we were stunned at how spacious each apartment was and the high standard and specification of the work completed so far. He explained that the central location of Wates House and the excellent transportation links meant the apartments are already sought after. Having carried out detailed demographic studies of Fareham, he found a significant trend where individuals and young families were downsizing from houses to apartments.
Hietesh is aware that several planning applications for similar redevelopment projects in the area were rejected, therefore, Wates House will be one of a kind. Understanding this, Hietesh was keen not to make any alterations to the approved plans even though the property has the potential for up to 5 more apartments. However, working with the original plan has benefits, such as allowing for large bedrooms and spacious living space in each apartment and maintaining the original office window dimensions for plenty of natural light.
The internal layouts for the first two floors are complete, with fitout works due to complete by the summer as the construction of the additional two stories takes place.
Hietesh is unsure of his exit strategy for the project; his options are to sell during this construction stage or retain the asset and let each apartment. The profitability of each option will ultimately lead his decision.
The site visit was informative for BWL Legal trainees; it gave the team exposure to the reality of construction, redevelopment and real estate and the importance of maintaining healthy relationships with clients.
Understanding that Hietesh has used BWL Legal at almost every stage of the project – from acquiring the property to having BWL draft shareholders agreements, and prepare consultants appointments and RIBA contracts – we can see how meeting client needs and appreciating their work goes a long way for the company.