Blackpool Central Masterplan
Nikal chairman Richard Fee will lead on the delivery of Blackpool Central among other schemes

Payne: ‘No drama’ in Nikal split

Dan Whelan

The former managing director left to pursue other interests, as the company prepares to roll out a revised business model that will see it move away from development towards a more investment-led approach. 

Nick Payne, who co-founded developer Nikal Group with Alan Murphy in 2003, told Place North West that his departure from the company at the start of the year had been amicable. 

“I spent 18 years at Nikal and it seemed like the right time to go and explore new ideas before I get too old,” he said. 

“I can’t give you any drama. I have a burning desire to explore new ideas and opportunities and they are looking for a slight change in direction. I wish them all the best going forward.” He is now in the process of setting up his own company. 

A statement from Nikal said: “The Nikal Group is moving away from a pure development business. This change in strategy is designed to strengthen and consolidate Nikal in the years to come.”  

The revised business strategy will be headed up by Nikal’s investment director and chairman Richard Fee. Co-founder Murphy remains as a director. 

Payne is in the process of setting up his own company

The statement from Nikal added: “Richard’s fund management and institutional background will allow him to rebalance Nikal’s portfolio and move it forward with a more professional and institutional outlook.” 

Fee, who joined the firm last year and will lead on projects including Nikal’s £300m Blackpool Central leisure scheme, said the refreshed strategy would give the company an opportunity to “continue to develop new partnerships with stakeholders unlocking value across both investment and development arenas”. 

“The future is exciting now that Nikal is on a new path,” he added. 

Payne, who left Westport Developments to set up Nikal with Murphy, said he was “very proud” of what he achieved during his time at Nikal, highlighting the company’s Masshouse masterplan in Birmingham – a £350m build-to-rent scheme backed by LaSalle Investment Management and Grainger comprising 1,200 apartments – as one of his stand-out projects.

Moving forward, Payne is in the process of setting up his own company.

I wanted to explore some new ideas,” he said. “I like prop tech, but my background is in build-to-rent and more conventional housing. I want to unlock affordable housing solutions in the BTR sector. The Covid [period] felt like the right time to leave and I’m speaking to like-minded investors.” 

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Sad that his legacy will forever be the still-empty Altair site, an appalling mess that is still seemingly no nearer starting, some 12 years or so after they entered into partnership with TMBC.

By Lee