North West build-to-rent developer Placefirst has transformed Liverpool’s historic Welsh Streets and has now raised £30m to bring forward new housing projects. Tony McDonough reports
Build-to-rent developer Placefirst has secured £30m from NatWest to build more homes in Liverpool and across the north of England.
Over the next three year Placefirst will look to bring 319 homes for rent to the market in Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Morecambe and Accrington, to add to its existing 1,150-strong property portfolio.
That portfolio includes Liverpool’s famous Welsh Streets where it converted 400 Victorian terraces, including the house Beatles drummer Ringo Starr grew up in, into 290 two, three and four-bedroom homes for rent.
Originally built in the 1870s for Welsh workers relocating to Liverpool, the estate fell into dilapidation and early in the 2000s were earmarked for a demolition and rebuild programme. However, following a successful local campaign to preserve the streets the city council later approve Placefirst’s refurbishment plan.
In October 2019 the company’s work on the scheme was name the UK’s top residential scheme at the RICS Awards. It had earlier won the regional category before going on to scoop the national prize.
The finance from NatWest will also support the company as it expands its workforce, with plans already under way to increase its existing workforce of 65 employees, with the addition of three property managers for its new developments.
Placefirst is a pioneer in the fast-growing build-to-rent (BTR) market and specialises in both new build schemes and transforming existing neighbourhoods through refurbishment, development, and a “commitment to community placemaking”.
Nichola Halverson, director of Placefirst, said: “Our goal is to design, build, professionally manage and maintain neighbourhoods, with residents’ needs at the heart of everything we do. We believe there is a better deal out there when it comes to renting a home and are committed to providing a genuine alternative to home ownership.
“The funding package from NatWest will allow us to expand our work in transforming and building vibrant communities in the North West and across the country.
|”From our developments so far, we have successfully seen communities flourish and grow as a result of the quality and imagination we bring to every build and the high levels of ongoing service we’re able to offer to all residents.”
Paul Mercer, relationship director at NatWest, added: “We have worked with Placefirst since it was first established in 2010, and as a result, have formed a very strong collaborative relationship.
“The latest funding package will allow the company to expand and build on the community-focused developments it has already created in the North West. We are excited by the prospect of similar developments transforming different areas across the rest of the country.”