The CEO of the UK’s largest listed landlord says the agency is proud to play its half within the Levelling Up agenda after doubling down on its dedication to the areas.
Newcastle based mostly Grainger Plc, which was based 110 years in the past this yr, has spent the final six years promoting off older tenancies and retirements properties to develop into a pacesetter within the fast-growing non-public rental sector (PRS).
The agency initially deliberate to plough £850m into PRS schemes, constructing and buying trendy house blocks in key cities across the UK, however that funding has grown considerably to a present operational portfolio value greater than £3bn.
Grainger CEO Helen Gordon says the agency has been specializing in the areas lengthy earlier than the Authorities known as upon companies to help the Levelling Up agenda, with shareholders totally supportive of its plans to create new construct properties outdoors of London.
She stated: “When I started in the business we were worth £700m to £800m, whereas our operational portfolio is now over £3bn. More importantly we’ve got a pipeline of more than £2bn worth of homes, either under construction or going through planning or legals, so we’re going to see really big growth in the business.
“When Boris Johnson came to power in December 2019, the following February we raised equity from shareholders to respond to the Levelling Up agenda and as a response to that we committed to schemes in Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield. We have gone to our shareholders and said: ‘We are quite London-centric at the moment but our pipeline is mainly in the regions’.
“Our shareholders were incredibly supportive of that growth agenda. We included a scheme in Birmingham and literally the day we were fundraising they made a commitment to HS2 in Birmingham and the site is adjacent to the High Speed 2 station.”
Final yr The Forge, near Newcastle Quayside, grew to become the corporate’s first PRS funding in Newcastle, and Ms Gordon says the agency is now on the hunt for extra within the space.
Additional funding can be being carried out as its head workplace at Citygate in Gallowgate, Newcastle, the place greater than £250,000 is being spent on creating a contemporary base for its 150 staff, together with its new residents providers workforce, which was launched final yr.
Ms Gordon stated: “We’ve got a base in Newcastle, where more people are employed than anywhere else in the UK, yet we were finding it very difficult to find sites that we were able to develop in Newcastle.
“That is still an ambition. The Forge is really a foundation point for us in Newcastle.
“One of our investment directors is based in Newcastle and is looking at everything that comes forward. Before the sale of the football club we were looking at the site adjacent to the club, although I suspect they want to hang on to that now. We’re looking all over the city really. I wouldn’t rule our remoter areas – although nothing is remote in Newcastle, I think it’s a very concentrated city that you can really get your arms around.
“We see the city as a good place to develop and in terms of affordability, a lot was developed in central Newcastle around student accommodation and that, on a per square foot basis, is much more expensive than build to rent because they are smaller units than we have.
“The cities getting levelling up right are good university cities that are managing to get graduate retention and because you’ve got good graduate retention, you then have the people who want the talent, and will relocate or bring jobs to the area.
“Newcastle has got fantastic universities, it’s got a big student population, it’s an exciting place for young people to stay, rather than go to London, but it’s also one of our oldest cities and very constrained for land in central area. But if you look at how we developed in Leeds and Manchester and in Bristol that have similar characteristics we don’t just develop right in the heart of the city centre.
“We’ve watched with interest the investment coming in to the city and that really is where you need young people to be – there, available, willing to work, willing to spend and willing to have their careers in the locale and not disappearing down to London.”