Lawless to head £400m Cheshire development initiative

Darran LawlessCheshire East Council has appointed Darran Lawless from Muse Developments as managing director of its newly established development company, to be called East Cheshire: Engine of the North.

The company is a wholly owned department of the council and was established with the aim of driving forward the development of land assets in excess of £400m for housing and employment use.

The position was advertised in Place North West in January and is understood to have attracted 80 applications from people in the development community.

Lawless joined the new company in May from Muse Developments where he was a development director and his responsibilities included the St Paul's Square project in Liverpool delivered through the English Cities Fund joint venture with Homes & Communities Agency and Legal & General.

Lawless said: "This was an excellent opportunity to get involved with a land owner that had a significant amount of high quality sites, some operational but others untapped, and clear ideas for their development."

The target sites include Handforth East, Leighton Green in Crewe, and South Macclesfield Develoment Area, a major housing and food store opportunity.

The method of delivery will vary on a case-by-case basis ranging from sale on open market to public-private joint venture.

Lawless, who lives in the borough and will be based initially at Sandbach, and his team of around six officers will be responsible for securing infrastructure funding and consents to unlock previously problematic sites and appointing preferred developers.

In terms of his career path Lawless said the move into the public sector did not necessarily mean the end of private sector development for him. He said: "Never say never; one of the key reasons why I was brought in was to bring a commercial viewpoint of what the market requires. My view after nearly 25 years in private development was that this provides a great opportunity to get my hands dirty with a host of attractive sites."

The budget for the new company will come at first from internal resources already approved by Cheshire East Council but in due course receipts from land sales and development agreements will be used to fund East Cheshire: Engine of the North.

Your Comments

Great news – good for the Council and good for Darran !

By Developer

a perversion of the planning process to obtain unfair advantage for the council over the private sector, which has more sustainable land for release than those areas proposed by cheshire, especially regarding handforth east.

By concerned

Congratulations Darran! You are the best man for the job!

By Carol Cavanagh

Great news, best wishes to Darran

By Justine McGuinn

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