What property developers can learn from ancient Rome


Could this be the blueprint that helps developers sell more property?

When searching for opportunities for investment on behalf of our database of global property investors, there are many things we look for. These investors want to buy where tenant demand will be strong. This means we’re really interested in developments in key locations. Large towns and cities. Commuter towns. Places that benefit from shops, schools, good transport links, major employment, and committed infrastructure investment.

When explaining what our investor clients are seeking, it’s often easier to provide examples. Our investors are forward-looking, buying for potential. We seek exciting developments that offer everything these investors desire. Sometimes these developments take time to come to fruition. Though still some way from becoming a reality, the proposed Vineyard Gate development in Colchester is a good example of what appeals to our investor database.

Mixed-use development is in demand

The Vineyard Gate site was earmarked for a £70 million shopping centre in 2002. It has never materialised, and last year the plans were finally wiped. Thankfully, Colchester Council has changed direction and now wants to partner and develop a more balanced mixed-use town centre development, combining residential, commercial, leisure and retail. This land is in an ideal location, where investors want to buy property in the UK, and could provide the opportunity to build the types of homes that developers should sell in a bouncing market.

Development that caters for all

Town centres have changed. Their focus has shifted to a people-centric plan rather than a retail-centric. Retail must be flexible, and there must be plenty of recreational facilities – restaurants, bars and bistros included.

Large national retailers are moving out of town, to shopping malls where car parking is plentiful. Town centres are evolving to providers of boutique-style stores, where niche needs are catered for. They are also becoming residential centres. These developments have the potential to attract a wide range of residents, including students, young professionals, families and retirees. Homes built, therefore, should reflect this.

Sites with soul

It is also important that in the midst of redevelopment, these town centre locations retain their soul. This means keeping some of the rich heritage of the location. Riverside developments are popular, as are developments that have a historical connection. At this site, for example, the Roman Wall will be a key feature. A public space, probably piazza-style, will be created in front of the wall. This space could have multiple uses in the future.

The local authorities in Colchester are considering attractions such as museums, art galleries, and restaurants, too.

Transport options are important

Fewer town centre residents have their own transport, but do rely on transport links. Vineyard Gate is a prime example of what might be achieved by such a development. The site could provide a natural link between the bus station and rail station, and then encourage people into the town centre from both transport hubs. This should create a vibrant and buzzing, largely pedestrianised town centre.

Dating back to Roman times, Colchester is the UK’s oldest town. If the revised plans for Vineyard Gate become a reality, it could provide a blueprint for what investors are looking for today:

  • A location that is backed by good transport links, with retail and leisure on the doorstep
  • With such a mixed-use scheme providing commercial space too, the potential for long-term job creation is also improved – especially in the modern digital and creative sectors
  • Provided the new homes built cater for a mixed demographic, this type of development holds much promise for investors

Perhaps property developers can still learn from ancient Rome!

There’s only one problem: Vineyard Gate could still be years away… and we need property for waiting investors today. To connect your development with waiting investors, ready to buy today, all you need to do is contact Castlereach. Then let us do the rest.

Call us today on 0207 923 5680.

Live with passion

Brett Alegre-Wood

About the Author

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Castlereach. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids. Brett holds both the Level 3 Property Mark Qualifications for Property Sales and Property Lettings and Management.