It was with a deep intake of breath that we saw in the New Year. As Head of Commercial I was and am regularly asked what will happen in 2012 and my response has been “the same as 2011, but let’s see what happens within the first few months”.

t this stage I am pleased to say that we have been pleasantly surprised. Across the board we have seen an uplift in viewings, which has translated in some of the older stock going under offer - 2012 has started of with far more than a whimper.

What is more, we are probably in for an even bigger bang in the spring with the demolition by explosive of the Bell Street car park in Stourbridge Town Centre to make way for the new Tesco store and regeneration of our town centre.

This is sparking considerable interest now with both owners and occupiers looking at how this will affect their business and how the hoped increase in visitors to the town can be exploited for the benefit of us all not just the few.

We are newly marketing a number of properties on both High Street and Lower High Street and these are attracting a good level of interest not only from retailers but also developers and contractors looking at potential alternative uses for the upper floors – predominantly for residential to create small one and two bed affordable units for key workers and the new employees generated from the Tesco development.

We are selling a building in Lower High Street currently which has ground floor retail and the upper floors converted into an HMO (house in multiple occupation) providing much needed affordable housing right in the heart of the town. Considerable interest is being shown in this property from both occupiers and investors alike.

Stourbridge isn’t alone with the majority of upper floor accommodation in many High Street’s being totally underutilised, these can be converted into residential accommodation both for key workers and others who will benefit form proximity to town centre services. Stourbridge is very well provided with the New Bus Terminus nearing completion directly adjacent to the centre along with the railway station with direct connections to Birmingham City Centre and beyond.

It is time now to look at these areas and the impact of the upcoming regeneration – let us not fall victim to the big retailers turning their back onto the traditional High Streets lets seize the opportunity to change them for the better and breath life back, not only during the working day but beyond and create a more friendly and useable area safe for families to come and shop, enjoy a meal and the evening economy of Stourbridge.

The residential market despite the continuing economic downturn and reduction of disposable income remains consistent with the level of new instructions and sales improving month on month. We recently launched a brand new development of two bedroom apartments in Cradley Heath, Macarthur Gardens where we had over 30 people turn up on the first morning of the launch and now have one sold and two further about to go under offer – and they are not yet complete! – a very encouraging sign for well located town centre developments, and like Stourbridge, Cradley Heath enjoys easy access to the trains with direct access to both Birmingham and the Midland Metro System.

So with the Olympics approaching along with the Diamond Jubilee we too will see some fireworks and explosion in Stourbridge too.