ECf doubles down on search for new schemes

Public-private developer English Cities Fund is looking to partner with councils on projects with a gross development value exceeding £100m, after announcing the doubling of its investment capability.

The fund is a development company set up by Homes England, Legal & General and Muse Developments in 2001 to take on complex, large-scale regeneration projects with public sector partners.

Initially, it invested £100m in five projects, including Liverpool’s St Paul’s Square and Salford’s Chapel Street, with the five schemes now worth a combined £1.6bn, ECf said.

The fund will now double in size to £200m and seek new partnerships with councils, regional authorities and other public sector organisations to transform major sites, delivering mixed-use, residential-led schemes.

Along with the local authorities in each area it has worked, the fund has delivered schemes in partnership with Network Rail, the East Coast Mainline and the Greater London Authority.

It is understood there are no timescales set, and no decisions on which towns and cities have been made – but it has to be in England, and it has to be working with public sector partners, trying to replicate the kind of success experienced in Salford.

Across its schemes, the fund has delivered 850,000 sq ft of office, retail and leisure space, generating some 5,000 jobs. It has built 1,300 homes with a further 2,210 homes still in the pipeline, alongside 820,000 sq ft of further commercial development.

The schemes have secured over £800m further third-party investment, including from property companies, institutional investors and the public sector.

Sir Michael Lyons, ECf chairman, said: “Our cities and towns are the engines of our economy and our cultural and social lives. We must continue to reinvent them in bold and imaginative ways.

“We want to partner with ambitious local authorities and other public bodies who want to attract investment, build homes and support enterprise. Together we can create exceptional places.

“We’re a unique partnership. In bringing together Homes England, Legal & General and Muse, we are demonstrating the combined potential of public and private sector regeneration expertise. We’ve shown over 17 years that it’s possible to commit for the long term while still delivering at pace.

“As we double the fund, we’re enthusiastic about the opportunities to deliver urban developments which show real imagination and unlock value for our partners and their communities.”

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