• Friday, July 12, 2024


‘Diversity in the property sector leads to inclusive and resilient communities’

Inaugural Eastern Eye Property Awards celebrate Asian achievements in real estate, urban planning and regeneration

Claire Coutinho

By: Sarwar Alam

BRITISH ASIAN entrepreneurs were recognised for their contribution in developing the country’s property and real-estate sectors at the inaugural Eastern Eye Property Awards in London last Wednesday (26).

With the event’s focus on urban planning, commercial and residential development and regeneration of neighbourhoods, the ceremony showcased the achievements of Asians in Britain’s booming property market. These included prominent developers, leading hoteliers and also skilled professionals working in finance, law, consultancy and related service providers.

Amit Bhatia
Amit Bhatia

Claire Coutinho, the keynote speaker who is secretary of state for energy security and net zero, paid tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit of generations of British Asians.

She said, “There are so many talented individuals, from small-scale organisations to large corporations. The entrepreneurial spirit you are bringing to your designs, your pioneering development, your dedication to turning around neighbourhoods and bringing [about] the regeneration the country needs – it’s not only just impressive, it speaks volumes about the contributions of British Asians in society.”

LEAD Inset 2 Jaimin Solanki speaks 1A
Jaimin Solanki

In his remarks, Jaimin Solanki, director of the Asian Media Group (AMG) and partner, Solanki Family Office, noted how the property market was vital to the foundation of the UK economy.

He said, “It employs 12 million people and remains the prime destination for foreign capital. Property underpins industry and business. Embracing diversity in property development and urban planning leads to more inclusive and resilient communities.

“When we design our cities and neighbourhoods with the needs of diverse populations in mind, we create spaces that are welcoming and accommodating for all. This approach not only enhances quality of life but also fosters a sense of belonging and social cohesion.

LEAD 2 Deepesh Thakrar Senior Director of Debt Finance OakNorth Bank of the Year
Shailesh Solanki, OakNorth Bank’s Deepesh Thakrar, Kalpesh Solanki and Nihal Arthanayake

“This evening is about celebrating the positives of diversity and the contribution ethnic communities have made in the sector.”

In all, 12 awards were presented at the ceremony, which was held at the Park Plaza London Riverbank. There was also a panel discussion on the challenges facing the UK’s property and housing sectors,

LEAD 4 Sunil and Kamal Pankhania centre duo Westcombe Group Hotel Developer of the Year
Westcombe Group. Shailesh Solanki, OakNorth’s Deepesh Thakrar, Sunil Pankhania, Kamal Pankhania, Kalpesh Solanki and Nihal Arthanayake

featuring Kamal Pankhania of the Westcombe Group, Summix’s Niamh O’Connor and Harry Murphy from Savills Workthere UK. (See page 15)

The Hinduja family took home the coveted Eastern Eye property developer of the year award for The OWO Raffles, which was launched last year by Princess Anne and attended by the who’s who of London society.

The award recognised the scale of one of the most ambitious residential and hospitality projects in the capital.

LEAD 5 Sustainable business Bestway
Shailesh Solanki, Stanly Daniel (who collected the award on behalf of Bestway), Kalpesh Solanki and Nihal Arthanayake

The Hinduja Group partnered with Onex Holdings to restore the Old War Office (OWO) in Whitehall – a building completed in 1906 and one of the great edifices of the Edwardian age from where Sir Winston Churchill led Britain’s war effort during the Second World War.

The OWO Raffles was the Hinduja family’s foray into hospitality. The development was led by Shalini Hinduja, the daughter-in-law of GP Hinduja, the chairman of the group.

In a six-year restoration project estimated to have cost £1.4 billion, the original footprint was expanded from 580,000 sq ft to 800,000 sq ft. Three new floors were excavated below ground to create a ballroom and a swimming pool beneath ornate marble arches.

LEAD 6 Rina Patel Interior Designer of the Year
Rina Patel. Kalpesh Solanki, Shailesh Solanki, Rina Patel and Nihal Arthanayake

There are 120 hotel rooms, 85 residential apartments, nine restaurants, three bars, a spa and a gym.

“The OWO will be my greatest legacy to London for future generations to enjoy,” said GP Hinduja.

LEAD 12 Akhil Mair Best Mortgage Broker scaled
Shailesh Solanki, Akhil Mair, Kalpesh Solanki and Nihal Arthanayake

Other award winners on the night included developers, interior designers, those from the legal and finance professions and hoteliers.

The crucial role of financiers in property development was recognised with the bank of the year award, which went to OakNorth Bank.

LEAD 7 Vijay Parikh Law Firm of the Year
Harold Benjamin Solicitors. Shailesh Solanki, Vijay Parikh of Harold Benjamin Solicitors, Kalpesh Solanki and Nihal Arthanayake

Since its launch in 2015, OakNorth has supported entrepreneurs in growing their businesses by using data and analytics and providing access to credit and personalised banking services.

In 2023, it provided lending worth £1.7bn, at a time when borrowing across all banks fell by 16 per cent.

Another sector recognised at the event was that of care homes, as an ageing population has driven development in that part of the property business.

Avnish Goyal, chair of Hallmark Luxury Care Homes, collected the Eastern Eye care home developer of the year award for his Hallmark Angmering Grange Luxury Care Home near South Downs National Park.

LEAD 1 Prakash and Ritu Chabbaria Property Developer of the Year
Shailesh Solanki, Amit Bhatia, Prakash and Ritu Chhabria (who collected the award of behalf of the Hinduja family), Kalpesh Solanki and Nihal Arthanayake

Its features include a cinema, a café with adjoining cocktail bar, two hair salons and a traditional ice cream parlour. Residents also have access to landscaped gardens, a summer house, gardening club area, a Royal Mail post-box and fitness equipment.

The Eastern Eye hotel developer of the year award went to the Westcombe Group for its refurbishment of the Hampton by Hilton Old Street property in Shoreditch, London. The successful multi-millionpound project, using a high standard of sustainable construction, gained an “Excellent” rating from Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM).

The Bestway Group was recognised for its work in reducing the environmental impact of real estate as it collected the Eastern Eye sustainable business of the year award.

LEAD 3 eighth from left Managing Director Aneurin Brown left and ninth from left Founder Avnish Goyal right Care Home Developer of the Year
Hallmark’s Aneurin Brown, Shailesh Solank SBI UK’s Sudhir Sharma ,Avnish Goyal, Kalpesh Solanki and Nihal Arthanayake are pictured with other team members and guests

The group ensures that its real-estate assets – which are in excess of £1bn and include warehousing, commercial properties and residential developments – all embrace green and renewable energy solutions, reduce its carbon footprint and minimise the environmental impact.

Rina Patel, founder of Vastu Interior Design, collected the Eastern Eye interior designer award. Her recent projects included a property development in Chelsea valued at £15 million, but which subsequently sold for £22m.

Vijay Parikh, managing director at Harold Bejamin Solicitors, scooped the award for Eastern Eye law firm of the year.

LEAD 8 Kirty Chovisia and Jonathan Kay winnner Kiran Chauhan not in pic Planner of the Year scaled
Kiran Chauhan. Shailesh Solanki, Kirty Chovisia and Jonathan Kay (who received the award on behalf of Kiran Chauhan), and Kalpesh Solanki

The firm acts on behalf of high-profile retail brands including Ladbrokes, Kering Group, Head Masters and Balenciaga. Its recent projects include a €70m (£59m) refinance of a Dublin hotel and working for fashion houses Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent on two separate transactions in Sloane Street.

The Eastern Eye planner of the year award recognises how complex planning permissions can be, and how valuable and helpful professional cooperation is with local authorities.

Kiran Chauhan, from the London borough of Brent, won the award. Chauhan has, for the past two years, been the lead on the development of a mixed-use regeneration, industrial intensification of an existing estate in northwest London.

LEAD 9 Shiraz Jiwa Property Deal of the Year scaled
Shailesh Solanki, Shiraz Jiwa, Kalpesh Solanki and Nihal Arthanayake

The scheme involves the co-location of at least 2,200 new homes.

The Valesco Group, the largest hospitality group in Europe and the sixth-largest globally, won the Eastern Eye property deal of the year, for the €460m (£390m) acquisition of the iconic Sequana Tower in Paris, France, that serves as the conglomerate’s global headquarters.

Shiraz Jiwa, founder and CEO of the Valesco Group, collected the award. Under his leadership, the company has built a €2.5bn (£2.1bn) pan-European portfolio in five years, with the backing of sovereign and institutional capital from Asia – unprecedented for such a young firm.

LEAD 10 Chintan Soni Ecolibrium Best Technology Company of the Year scaled
Shailesh Solanki, Ecolibrium’s Chintan Soni, Kalpesh Solanki and Nihal Arthanayake

The Eastern Eye property technology company of the year award went to Ecolibrium, a business that provides pioneering sustainability technology to organisations through data-driven solutions as they embark on their decarbonisation journeys.

Market Financial Solutions won the Eastern Eye specialist lender award. It offers a range of bespoke products, including delivering loans as large as £50m in as few as three days.

The Eastern Eye best mortgage broker award went to Akhil Mair, managing director of Our Mortgage Broker Ltd.

LEAD 11 Athul Santimon and Alex Jacobs Market Financial Solutions Eastern Eye Specialist Lender of the Year
Kalpesh Solanki, Shailesh Solanki, Athul Santimon and Alex Jacobs from Market Financial Solutions, and Nihal Arthanayake

BBC presenter Nihal Arthanayake hosted the event, which was held in association with Summix and supported by OakNorth Bank and SBI UK.

The awards also helped raise awareness and much-needed funds for the charity LEPRA, whose vision is a world free from stigma and disability due to leprosy. Guests donated generously to LEPRA projects in India and Bangladesh.

The Eastern Eye Property Awards are hosted by AMG, which publishes Eastern Eye and Garavi Gujarat news weeklies as well as the Asian Rich List and the GG2 Power List.

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