We catch up with Mark Lee, the CEO of Calthorpe Estates
Please introduce yourself
I am Mark Lee, chief executive of Calthorpe Estates, a forward-thinking and progressive property investment and development company. Family-owned since 1717, the prime focus of the business is the prestigious 1,600-acre Calthorpe Estate in Edgbaston.
What does your company do?
We are the management team responsible for the custodianship and sustainable regeneration of the Calthorpe Estate, Edgbaston. Our vision is to create the best place to live and work. Our team and strategic partners are in charge of delivering a multi-million pound regeneration portfolio including retail and leisure, office and medical developments. New mixed-use developments that are being progressed include The Village, an emerging urban village with a vibrant gastro quarter within the heart of Edgbaston, and Edgbaston Mill. We are also continuing to enhance the Edgbaston Medical Quarter with world-class medical facilities at Pebble Mill.
Is Brum a good place to do business?
It is a fantastic place to do business. There is a ‘can do’ collaborative attitude in the community and business sector, which facilitates decision-making. This is supported by recent research by PWC in which Birmingham was ranked as Europe’s sixth best city for investment, along with Birmingham being voted as the UK’s most entrepreneurial region (Start-up Britain).
What are your biggest gripes with it?
The use of the word ‘Brum’, which when presenting Birmingham on a world stage in comparison to London (Cockney) or Manchester (Mancunian) does not reflect what the city has to offer or the great sense of the place.
How do you feel your clients see the city?
As a growing, vibrant and diverse city, which can easily compete on an international level thanks to all it has to offer and its connectivity. The recent runway extension at Birmingham Airport has been a real asset for the city’s competitiveness, as will be Grand Central and the new-look New Street Station when they open later in 2015.
Does Birmingham offer any particular advantages as a destination for business?
In addition to its connectivity, a real jewel in its crown is the scope and scale of what it has to offer, along with quality of life. On the Calthorpe Estate, we have created a community rather than simply a business quarter and when you talk to potential occupiers or investors, they very quickly buy into the whole area; the elegant homes, the highly sought after schools and educational establishments, the world class facilities such as Edgbaston Cricket Stadium and Edgbaston Priory Club, along with the superb dining, leisure and lifestyle facilities.
What should our priorities be as a city?
To secure the Midlands Powerhouse that is on offer from central government, and use it to invest in the infrastructure to connect the whole of the city and region. In addition, to develop the skills in the region to enable the great population to participate fully in the city’s economic development. And last but not least, to talk ourselves up a bit more! If you had £1bn to spend on improving Brum what would you do with it? Invest in the Medical and Life Science sector, to create jobs for the future, attract inward investment and enable Birmingham to compete on a world stage with the likes of Boston and San Francisco.