Project Monitoring

TFT Edinburgh at 5: revitalising Scotland’s capital city

TFT’s Edinburgh office is celebrating its fifth birthday with a difference. The office bash might have to wait for another year, but we’re looking back on some of our favourite projects to date, and the big things which lay ahead.

First up is Neil Wotherspoon, Partner and head of Edinburgh, to talk to us about the St James Quarter development we’re monitoring for Nuveen. It’s making an impact already and is set to be a breath of fresh air for Scotland’s capital.

“Looking back on the journey of our Edinburgh office is deeply personal to me. Since I opened the office in 2015, our team, our work and our client list has grown and diversified a great deal. We’ve gone from strength to strength to offer our specialist services to incredible clients in Scotland and across the rest of the UK and Europe.

One project in particular has come to define my relationship with the city itself, personally and professionally: the St James Quarter development which I am monitoring on behalf of our clients Nuveen and APG. In fact, we were expecting two great parties as a St James Quarter milestone and our office birthday coincided in October. But for now at least we’ll make do with a visit to the Zoom Pub!

I moved to Edinburgh in 1998, so I know the St James Quarter site has always had a challenging place in the city. I don’t recall the old office space ever being occupied and the shopping centre was a short-cut rather than a destination. Yet, the site took up a large part of the east of Edinburgh. St James Quarter will completely change that. I’m not sure whether many residents appreciate the full scale of the new development, so I hope they will be surprised by all it contains, and how it will open up that part of the city. The incredible views will also show the city in a new way, and not just for the residential apartments and W Edinburgh guests. Towards Leith Street at level 5 there will be a publicly available courtyard with great views over Carlton Hill.

I think the structure itself it also going to help people move around the city differently. For instance, oddly Edinburgh has a limited selection of covered public areas to seek refuge from the Scottish weather. But the St James Quarter galleria roof will provide that sheltered street feel and build a great atmosphere too. You may have already seen some of the unique design features, but I think the lighting design is going to be really impressive in the galleria and on the W Hotel. Without getting in to the specification, I can say that these interactive, responsive and unique designs will be a first for visitors, unlike anything else in Scotland.

I can’t say that this year is everything I wanted for our fifth birthday celebrations. But even in these tough times I believe there’s an awful lot to be positive about. When SJQ opens in Spring 2021 it will begin a major positive change for the city itself, boosting not only the local economy but also the lives of residents and visitors alike.”

Read more about the transformation going on at Edinburgh’s St James Quarter, here.

TFT Edinburgh at 5: from Europe to the Royal Mile

TFT’s Edinburgh office is celebrating its fifth birthday with a difference. The office bash might have to wait for another year, but we’re looking back on some of our favourite projects to date, and the big things which lay ahead.

Alasdair Balfour, Associate in our Edinburgh office, talks to us about travel on the job and new developments close to home.

“I’ve enjoyed building close and longstanding relationships with our fantastic clients, and our team across the company. From our Edinburgh base we’ve delivered instructions in the city, across Scotland and further afield too, including England, Ireland, Northern Ireland and mainland Europe.

After all, the buildings don’t come to us!

My highlights are always exploring new locations. I relish the challenges that come with working in different places, with new projects in new contexts. Some personal favourites include inspection of just under 5m sqft of Grade A office accommodation across Paris, Berlin and Frankfurt. Those were to produce reinstatement cost assessments (RCAs) for a European portfolio. I also completed a range of separate Technical Due Diligence instructions across France and Spain, including a 800,000sqft industrial unit near Madrid.

Closer to home, it’s always exciting to see your city change and grow. In particular, I’m proud be part of the evolution of Edinburgh as its sites and buildings evolve to the commercial opportunities of our times. Major development sites aren’t common in the city centre right now. But I was privileged to work on the multi-use redevelopment of New Waverley.

I was a Fund Monitor for the new purchaser of the 190,000sqft office building, Queen Elizabeth House. I was overseeing the development obligations associated with the purchase, building contract and tenancy. It’s an impressive facility, right in the heart of the city with striking views east and west down the Waverley valley as far as Berwick Law, near North Berwick in East Lothian. As with many things, occupancy has been delayed by COVID-19 but it’s only a matter of time before the area is fully brought to life by its inhabitants.”

New Waverley is part of our nation-wide instruction from Legal & General to monitor the development of Government hubs in major cities across the UK. Find out more about some of the other schemes in that project, in Liverpool, Cardiff and Glasgow .

TFT to monitor The Interchange, Cardiff, as the Welsh capital continues to transform

Photo Credit: HMA Architects

TFT has been appointed by Legal & General Capital Investments Ltd to undertake technical due diligence (TDD) for the acquisition and subsequent project monitoring for the development of The Interchange, Cardiff.

The Interchange is part of Central Square, Cardiff, a new live and creative business district built around the principal transport hubs (train, bus and future metro) and incorporating sustainable cycle highway connections to the rest of the city.

The instruction will span over a 3-year period and is the latest element of the city’s largest redevelopment scheme. TFT Partner John Newton will monitor the project following his involvement in Plots 6 & 7. Interchange is one of the final phases of the scheme and will comprise Wales’ biggest build to rent scheme, 84,000sq ft of grade A offices, as well as a new and upgraded central bus station.

TFT’s continued involvement on Central Square, will enable best practice to be adopted on these latest works, to ensure the project achieves the investor’s time, cost and quality goals.

Development is underway at The Interchange (Photo credit: TFT, July 2019)

The scheme paves the way for economic and social growth in the Welsh capital, responding to the growing population’s demand for more private rented schemes and government calls to make housing more affordable.

The bus station, a 14-bay interchange with a concourse, is set to be operating at the end of 2022. The scheme will significantly improve passenger experience and efficiency in and out of the city centre as well as simplifying the travel to and from the new offices for visiting and permanent staff.

In response to the appointment, John said:

This fantastic development ticks all the right boxes incorporating Wales’ largest buy-to-rent scheme, creating new jobs via its office/retail elements and providing Cardiff with its new eagerly anticipated central bus station. The scheme’s developers – Rightacres Property Co Ltd – have worked tirelessly with Cardiff City Council to assemble the site and instigate development preparations. Now, together with the essential funding of Legal and General, they are ready to make things happen.

The Central Square development has created an impetus to redevelop the nearby old Brains brewery site and extended land into a large mixed-use scheme by the same developer. If plans come to light, the two schemes will transform the central area of Cardiff, enhancing its reputation as one of the fastest expanding capital cities in Europe, and improving its capability of attracting prime inward investment.

Scottish property: foundations for growth

2019 promises exciting developments for Scotland’s property market, off the back of multiple findings suggesting the region’s potential for investment and development.

Scottish property outperformed its five-year average in 2018, as commercial investment reached £2.5bn thanks to increased involvement by some big UK funds and continued high interest by overseas investors. Mid-year, Scotland was found to be the best performing market in the UK, growing by 5.6% compared to Wales’ 4.4% and England’s 3.7% growth over the same period.

The upshot of increased investment is a set of development projects which look to usher in a new era for Scottish urban life. Cultural centres, retail units and residential property are all springing up to meet a demand for a higher standard of amenities in the region. This is especially true for major centres like Edinburgh, in which ambition and performance of building projects currently underway could set a precedent for future development around the country.

Two years of progress on the TFT monitored Edinburgh St James development

The highest profile of these is the Edinburgh St James redevelopment. Located in the heart of Scotland’s capital, between Calton Hill and St Andrew Square, the project has an opportunity to combine culture and commerce for the benefit of occupants and visitors, driving the long-term success of owners and investors.

The scheme comprises a world-class retail, leisure, hotel and residential offer, including Scotland’s first W Hotel, first boutique Everyman Cinema, a flagship John Lewis department store and 150 apartments offering unrivalled amenities and views across the city.

TFT’s role as Project Monitors on Edinburgh St James is to ensure the planning, design and construction of the development proceeds by resolving challenges at an early stage and by protecting the budget and timescale of the work. In major works like this, that role is crucial given extensive excavation and replacement of existing infrastructure in and around the site, and working around an open department store – John Lewis – without disruption.

And it’s not just retail, leisure and residential sites which are pointing towards growth. TFT’s Edinburgh office is working on a combined 376,705 square feet of major office schemes on behalf of Legal and General in in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The skills to navigate these challenges will only be more in demand as development continues around Scotland – whether it’s in a busy city centre, redeveloping older sites, or breaking ground in a new site, careful management of the project will be crucial to maximising its success.

On a recent site visit, we saw the major changes afoot, and the new St James centre taking shape. With Scotland’s national growth also looking strong for the future, we’re excited to guide subsequent works that drive its success.