It's a response to the opportunities and demands we feel exist in the wider Birmingham area, particularly for affordable suburban apartments, which is where we're going to be targeting our portfolio.
Why are you targeting suburban areas?
We've done a couple of schemes in suburban Birmingham and our perception of the market is that there are price pressures in central Birmingham which mean that demand for apartments there is slowing. Whereas demand is still strong in suburban Birmingham, because apartments there are more affordable. It's also easier in suburban areas to obtain manageably-sized sites of 25 to 100 units, which is a particularly popular size of development for buyers in that area.
What sites will Urban Revival be buying?
They'll all be brownfield. Most will involve a change of use - for example, former large homes, derelict hotels, factory units, petrol stations. We'll have to apply for change of use planning permission for them.
Does Urban Revival have any sites already – and if so, what?
We've got four or five sites which are now tied up on conditional contracts. They're in Edgbaston, Harbourne, Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter and the Mailbox district.
How long before you sell your first unit?
We're looking at the first occupants to move in some time in 2006.
What staff do you have?
There are only three people at the moment - it's a very tight structure [headed by regional director Darren Humphreys]. We're aiming to manage this more from a developer perspective than as a housebuilder, so we're bringing in external firms to do much of the work. We're using local contractors, estate agents and project managers. We have very close contacts with many companies across the Birmingham conurbation; at the moment we're in negotiations with some contractors about the work on our first tranche of sites.
Does this organic growth mean David Wilson Homes has ruled out acquisitions?
Not at all, we're putting in place a structure to deliver organic growth but if the right acquisition opportunities come along, we'd definitely still consider them.
Will Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen be advertising Urban Revival in addition to his other work for David Wilson Homes?
Laurence has an ongoing relationship with us, he contributes to our adverts, show homes and the wider company, so we're looking forward to working with him on Urban Revival too. We'd hope and expect to get his input in this project.