New life for Queens Square

Local investor launches bold new vision to save high streets.

Black Country property investor and developer, Sam Ginda, has launched Future High Street Living – an ambitious new company aimed at revitalising British high streets struggling in the wake of the retail crisis.

Starting in his hometown of West Bromwich, Ginda’s first deal through Future High Street Living is the proposed acquisition of Queens Square shopping centre, which sets the tone for his vision for how high streets will take shape over the coming years, centred around new residential and mixed-use developments, including build-to-rent provision.

Ginda is joint CEO of a leading property development and investment firm, Taylor Grange – which was recently involved in unlocking and securing planning permission at the junction site in Oldbury to delivery more than 250 homes in conjunction with Lovell Homes. His new initiative will focus on locations such as commuter belt towns and smaller secondary cities, aiming to support high streets in need of regeneration by bringing forward new schemes that will help boost footfall and create jobs.

“The Coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the retail crisis and it’s incredibly sad to see the demise of the high street hastened, with many big names shutting their doors for good. Urgent action is needed to reinvigorate these areas that were once at the heart of local communities.

“Future High Street Living is all about bringing struggling high streets back to life by investing in developments that will introduce new housing and new reasons to visit these areas yet again,” said Ginda.

Currently just 40% occupied, Ginda’s investment in Queens Square shopping centre will see the retail provision consolidated into one area, alongside a residential development including 84 new houses and more than 200 residential apartments, plus improvements to the public realm.

Ginda took it upon himself to track down the owners of Queens Square pre-pandemic to unlock and accelerate the pace of delivery on a focal brownfield site in the heart of West Bromwich.

“Having grown up in West Bromwich, I feel so passionately about doing my part to help an area that’s in real need of regeneration and I couldn’t bear to see how this part of the town centre has declined over the past years. Introducing new homes close to local transport links will create a thriving, sustainable community that encourages people to spend time here.

“Furthermore, developing unused retail space into housing could be a great way of repopulating our high streets from a social standpoint, while also delivering some sorely needed housing stock to the market.”

Ginda tabled his vison with Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council last year and with the West Midlands Mayor Andy Street at the WMCA. Streets has provided a brownfield grant to SMBC to demolish the adjacent Bull Street car park, which Ginda wishes to incorporate to bring forward a comprehensive and cohesive development.

“The terms proposed we believe not only protect the council’s interest, but in addition will see financial gain for SMBC through bringing this large development forward,” Ginda added.

“For developers working with regional local authorities, Future High Street Living gives them the opportunity to think long-term and embark on projects that they might have not been able to do on their own. For local authorities, working with developers gives them access to much needed capital and talent – an ideal public and private sector partnership.”