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Towns fortunes set to continue

Stourbridge town centre continues to recover and more development is planned, McDonald’s and KFC are looking to open drive-thru branches on a site off Mill Race Lane on the outskirts of Stourbridge town centre. The site was formerly home to the Hayes factory and the buildings were demolished in 2010.

Proposals which have been approved by Dudley Council will see three units built in total. An occupier for the third unit has not yet been found but permission is being sought so it can be used as a restaurant, cafe or takeaway.

At least 65 full and part-time jobs will be created by McDonald’s and a further 40 positions are expected to be available at KFC.

The scheme would see McDonald’s’ return to the town for the first time since it closed its branch in the High Street in 2008 after 20 years. The nearest one is currently near Lye while KFC’s closest branch is at Amblecote.

Plans have been announced to develop some new smaller retail units in the walkways at the Ryemarket, the owners are reported to be in discussion with a number of new retailers to join the likes of Waitrose, Home Bargains, Boots and Poundland – sign of improving confidence within the town centre from property owners and occupiers alike. Value for money and costs is still an issue, the threat of vacant Business Rates and still relatively high rentals has had a dampening affect but where landlords can be flexible and offer value for money the interest is there.

Finally also building owners are considering the refurbishment and conversion of upper floor accommodation to residential and further development on Market Street and Lower High Street.

Sale of property within Stourbridge continues to move a pace, we have agreed a sale of one of the former Worcester Street Surgery properties in Worcester Street and the other is now under offer with two parties vying for the building. We have also just completed a sale of the former Swinford Timbers shop in Oldswinford which is to be refurbished into a new café/ restaurant. These follow the agreed sale of a former restaurant in Lower High Street which is expected to complete shortly and reopen soon.

The June statement on Business conditions from the Bank of England, to which we contribute, reports activity in the housing market had eased, with a number of reports of lower levels of mortgage completions and approvals than last month. This was thought to be due to a continued shortage of properties for sale and the implementation of the Mortgage Market Review (MMR), which had slowed the processing of mortgage applications. It was unclear to what extent the MMR would have a longer lasting or structural impact on the mortgage market.

The softening in activity had been most pronounced in parts of London, where past increases in stamp duty and concerns about prospective increases in housing taxes had also reduced demand for houses. In the rest of the United Kingdom, there had been sustained demand growth for new houses, especially from first-time buyers using the Help to Buy equity loan scheme. House price inflation had remained modest outside the South East.

Credit availability had improved further, aided by increased competition between lenders. Credit conditions had improved for firms of most sizes, though conditions remained tight for the smallest businesses. Although demand for credit had risen, many firms had continued to seek to reduce their debt levels and preferred to fund expenditure out of retained cash, despite a fall in the cost of bank finance. Lending by challenger banks and crowd funders had continued to grow.

The availability of finance for real estate projects other than speculative development had widened with finance from specialist funds or insurance companies available where traditional lenders had stepped back.

Sentiment and market activity in the rest of the commercial property market has improved and there is a steady take up of vacant stock which will lead to a demand/supply imbalance

So we have something to smile about, I write this with our football team waiting to play Uruguay I our second match so we are still smiling let’s hope on both accounts we have more to be happy about over the summer.

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