David Russell, Chief Executive, Property Alliance Group
I am pleased to write this guest foreword and share the latest construction update with you.
Q3 2020 was another extremely busy and successful three months for Property Alliance Group as a whole. Despite the challenges that we all face in 2020 from Covid-19, we have seen continued growth across each of our businesses and reaffirmed that this is a time of opportunity and not one for standing still. We have taken any delay time and worked harder and faster to continue to improve our developments, and I will be releasing the latest images of Oxygen in the coming week.
Our development pipeline across all sectors, including hotels, commercial office, industrial and residential, has progressed well and we continue to deliver stand out award-winning developments; AXIS has been awarded by the LABC Building Excellence Awards 2020 for ‘Building Excellence in the Delivery of Outstanding Construction and Workmanship’, and Uptown, Riverside has been recognised in the Offsite Construction awards 2020 for Best use of Technology.
Property Alliance Group is founded on three decades of quality and delivery. We are known for our tenacity to develop schemes that many thought could not be built, such as AXIS, Manchester’s iconic tower, which is an engineering feat in itself. Alliance’s track record and reputation has secured us new and substantial pipeline deals across the various sectors and we continue to attract new investment partners into Manchester.
As a group we continue to buck the trend, and whilst many businesses are shrinking and making people redundant, we have hired more than 20 new starters across the business to support the growth and further strengthen the expertise in the group. Our teams have worked hard over the last quarter, with progress being made across the portfolio. The new working practices that we implemented in Q2 have been further refined over the course of Q3, making us a more efficient business than ever before and well-prepared to thrive no matter what challenges arise in the future.
It is a fact that all development comes with certain risks and, through that process, various challenges occur from the initial purchase of the site to planning and through to completion. We rely on our team of experts to advise us and work with globally recognised firms, to our best ability. It has been an anomaly that we encountered a design issue at Uptown, however I am pleased to confirm that, owing to our expertise and excellent network, we were able to move quickly, determine the error and implement the necessary works in a safe way with limited disruption. We have a clear and defined strategy to move forward as safely and promptly as possible, and we are now back on track and look forward to delivering Uptown, Riverside next year.
The Alliance Investments team continues to thrive, and sales and completions are resilient with new developments in the pipeline. The UK housing market has outdone even the most optimistic projections in recent months, with both property values and rents increasing, and demand through the roof. What’s more, the government has announced a Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday for all properties up to a value of £500,000. This is available until 31st March 2021 and has given the market a further boost.
Finally, our sister company Alliance City Living (ACL) – who are the building manager for all Property Alliance Group buildings – have enjoyed great success at AXIS, Manhattan and Park Gate. Each of these is firmly in its stride, and proving to be extremely popular with tenants. This update includes a full summary of ACL’s fantastic recent progress.
Work has continued at Oxygen over the past six months and, despite the additional implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, cladding is now being installed to levels 21-27 Tower 1. The cladding of Tower 2 is now complete.
The curtain walling window installation is ongoing in Tower 1 and Tower 2, from levels 16-21 and 10-14 respectively.
Internal fit out works are progressing across all 3 Towers with a total of nine phases now taking place, with this including partitioning, 1st fix mechanical and electrical works, and all plastering.
Lift installation is progressing well in Tower 1, and due to the speed of work, we have been able to remove crane three from site.
Specialist equipment was delivered to site during the August bank holiday weekend so that it could be safely and securely stored ahead of any potential demolition work. We worked closely with Salford City Council keeping them fully informed of all activity taking place on site, and have consulted with the representatives of the local residents committee. Letters were hand delivered to people’s homes informing them of our plans and we provided contact details for key staff members, including our chairman, so that local residents could raise any concerns with us directly.
Safety is always the first and foremost consideration for us here at PAG, so demolition exclusion zones and appropriate control measures were put in place prior to the works commencing. The neighbouring Trinity Way was closed during the two days of these works as an additional precaution.
We are pleased to say that we our team of experts have concluded a revised design that will allow us to resolve the situation and press on with our works on site. We have been able to draw on our extensive network and benefit from experts in their field. Our teams have worked tirelessly to rectify this issue with the best possible outcome. We erred on the side of caution throughout, taking actions that went above and beyond what was required in order to resolve the issue as safely and efficiently as possible.
Additionally, construction of the individual apartment modules continued off-site throughout the process, lessening the impact on the construction programme as far as possible.
The development, although in its early stages has already been shortlisted for Best Use of Timber Technology in The Offsite Construction Awards 2020. We look forward to announcing further awards for this development next year, as Uptown, Riverside nears completion and is recognised for its sustainable qualities and smart home system.
The Met – our latest student accommodation development – has achieved Practical Completion and is now ready for occupancy. Signage has been installed around the development.
The final external works and finishes to the reception are underway, ensuring a quality hotel-style lobby is created for tenants to enjoy.
The brickwork and roof have been completed, and the fit out of individual units has continued throughout. Scaffolding has now been removed from the outside of the building.
All electrical, noise and lift testing has now been completed, ensuring the building is safe for occupancy.
Finally, snagging and cleaning of rooms is ongoing to ensure consistent quality is seen throughout The Met.
Sprinkler and misting systems have been commissioned across the development, along with a fire alarm system and a smoke curtain in Townhouse D.
Internally, decoration and carpet fittings across all four townhouses were completed by Thursday 17th September. All floor finishes to the communal stairs and corridors are scheduled to be completed week beginning 21st September.
Alliance City Living (ACL) is our in-house building management and lettings team, responsible for looking after your property, being your pair of hands on the ground and managing your asset when you can’t be there.
The ACL team works on your behalf to provide market-leading rents, longer tenancies and a stress-free landlord experience so that you can enjoy all the benefits of owning a buy to let property with none of the hassle.
Viewings, maintenance, tenancy handovers, paperwork, defect rectification and more are all included as part of the ACL service. What’s more, you can keep up to date with your tenancy via our dedicated landlords’ portal, YORLET, and the regular financial statements you will receive from our highly-trained and accredited team.
In spite of the challenges raised by COVID-19, an impressive number of long-term tenancies have been secured across AXIS, Manhattan and Park Gate, and there is a waiting list of potential tenants for unit types which are currently sold out: