Gavin Bridge, director of Cubex and Insider’s 2017 Property Personality of the Year, has discussed the company’s development plans and set out his predictions for the South West property market in 2018.
Bridge was presented with the award at Insider’s South West Property Awards 2017 in October. He was recognised for his work on the regeneration of Finzels Reach, a 4.7-acre site which was once the heart of medieval Bristol and more recently the site of the Courage Brewery.
Finzels Reach is one of the largest mixed-use developments in the South West and, when complete, will include 440 new apartments, two Grade A office buildings and a 168-bedroom Premier Inn
Bridge cited two major developments at the site among his highlights for 2017.
“There was the opening of the new Castle Bridge in April,” he said. “That was one of the most technically challenging things we’ve worked on as a developer. The council are really pleased with it as they’ve had the ambition for a bridge on the site for some time.
“There was also the new street food market which has been well-received. It’s a key part of the place making at the development. I think going forward urban development is going to be more and more about building a community.”
Towards the end of 2017, Cubex revealed plans to convert the Generator Building at Finzels Reach, which originally housed the generator for Bristol’s tram system, to provide offices for technology, creative and media businesses.
The developer is now aiming to build on the success of Finzels Reach. Bridge said: “We’ll be looking to move the company more towards mixed-use schemes in Bristol, as well as places like Cheltenham, Bath and Cardiff.
“Build to rent is also going to become a more established use class in 2018. It’s proved to be popular with young professionals. We’re also looking for opportunities in the retirement market.
“The key thing will be tying all these developments together in mixed-use schemes.”
Bridge added that he was positive about the outlook for 2018 for the company and the wider South West property sector.
He said: “In the property market uncertainty is becoming the new normal, particularly with regards to office development. But we think this region is more robust than some. For us it’s about following the market and looking at what the trends are.
“Urban logistics will become an important area with the growth of Amazon and home delivery there will be increasing demand for distribution facilities in cities.
“Then there’s the potential for drone use with last-mile deliveries. It will be interesting to see how that works around homes.
“We’re also seeing more interest in office investment from outside of Europe, in particular the Far East, which is interesting.”