On 10 April 2014 the CAG Liaison Group met with representatives of Fifth Capital London, the developer who has acquired a “controlling interest” in the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House.
At the meeting were: Marc Pennick (Fifth Capital), John Assael and Emily Sandercock (Assael architects), Ralph Scott (Four Communications) and Karen Jones (CGMS consultants).
Representing the CAG Liaison Group were Lori Streich, Pete Bullard, Prue Hardwick, Jeff Butterfield, Janine McCretton, Julian Mellor and Hugh Nettelfield.
We wanted to hear more about Fifth Capital, who they are, what they’ve done before and what they propose to do next. Fifth Capital has popped up after we’ve been working for some time with the Council and, more latterly, Knightstone to bring the site forward for development so we don’t want all that hard work to be undone!
Who is Fifth Capital London?
Marc Pennick, the Director of Fifth Capital London, was previously a Director of Barretts London. For the last five years he has been an independent developer, setting up Montagu Property Consultants which was rebranded as Fifth Capital London.
Previous and current developments which Marc claims credit for include:
• Riverside Studios, Hammersmith – 165 residential units and new studios.
• Cleveland St, Westminster – 100 residential units currently in planning.
• Stourport, Worcester – 160 houses and Tesco superstore.
• Carlton Drive, Putney – office block recently bought at auction for conversion to 100 residential units.
• Ham Mill, Stroud – site of old mill. Conversion and development of 110 houses and apartments plus commercial space.
How does Fifth Capital operate?
Fifth Capital buys sites and brings in investment for specific types of development (e.g. residential, office etc). The financial backers are mostly private families together with Arab Investments Ltd.
The purchase of a site is usually handled through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). Sometimes a site will be sold-on once planning permission has been secured. In the case of Stourport and Ham Mill, Fifth Capital will build out the scheme before selling the freeholds either to the occupiers or to management companies. Quite often Fifth Capital will work with a housing association such as A2 Dominion to provide the affordable housing element.
What’s the deal with Comer?
Marc Pennick was very clear in stating that, aside from the deal on the site which has given him a “controlling interest”, he has no links with Comer Homes, the current owners. The site was suggested to him by a bank contact and this resulted in a deal on three Comer owned properties. He believes that he will deliver a much higher quality scheme than any previously proposed by Comer Homes and that his team and the level of upfront investment that he is incurring is testimony to his genuineness.
We weren’t offered any details about the “controlling interest” which Fifth Capital have acquired, what it means in practice or what conditions it might carry.
We asked “why here, why now” pointing out that the site is long derelict, contentious and the subject of an ongoing process with Knightstone and possible compulsory purchase. We didn’t really get an answer to that, except that the site was presented as an opportunity and that an appraisal shows it can be profitable. Marc Pennick doesn’t see the compulsory purchase as a problem.
Who else is involved?
Fifth Capital have appointed a professional team to work on the Carriageworks site that includes:
- Assael Architects (London)
- CGMS planning and heritage consultants (London)
- 4 Communications (London)
- Biodiversity by Design (Bath)
- Future City (London)
plus structural engineers, transport engineers, etc.
What are their ideas for the site?
John Assael told us about their emerging ideas which are based on the Knightstone scheme. The scheme will be residential lead with active ground floor units. They expect to have more residential units of greater size than the Knightstone scheme but have yet to clarify the Council’s expectations so do not as yet have firm proposals. The site will be permeable and some sketch ideas showed a route from Ashley Road through to the Carriageworks. The Carriageworks building will be restored, Westmoreland House will be converted and No 4 Ashley Road demolished. The level of car parking will be ‘just adequate’.
Who are they talking to?
There are obviously discussions taking place with the planners. Fifth Capital are waiting for a planning performance agreement which will specify who in the council will be involved together with target dates for key meetings and decisions.
Fifth Capital are also talking to many local organisations. They have been in touch with Chris Chalkley at PRSC, Love Bristol and are meeting with St Pauls Unlimited on 7 May. They met the ward councillor, Rob Telford, on 10 April. Some months ago they met with representatives of the City Council and Knightstone.
What timescale will they work to?
Fifth Capital are undertaking a wide range of site studies and surveys including structural and condition survey, ecological surveys, traffic surveys, heritage surveys etc. They are also meeting local groups to establish their views.
In June they propose public exhibitions over several days, leafletting of the broad area etc. We suggested that this might be better carried out in July to avoid the Glastonbury exodus.
They aim to submit a planning application at the end of 2014.
They propose a start on site at the end of 2015.
What do they want from CAG?
Fifth Capital have said that they want to work with CAG and have asked us to setup a contact group to have ongoing discussions about the design and advise them on the best way of consulting with the local community. We can understand where they’re coming from in this, but are cautious about doing anything that might undermine the Knightstone scheme. We’re asking them to provide much more information about their proposals, funding and commitment before we decide upon a resopnse.
What do you think?
Fifth Capital seem to be a serious contender. But at this point in time we still don’t really know what they’ve done before or whether they are good for their word. So what do you think? Should we work with them, should we help them, should we oppose them, or should we ignore them? Leave your comments below or mail them to us firstname.lastname@example.org