Awards Archives - Placefirst

Placefirst named Residential Innovator of the Year at Estates Gazette Awards 2019

The 2019 Estates Gazette Awards took place on Tuesday 22nd October at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, attracting over 900 of the UK’s property leading property professionals.

Hosted by Strictly Come Dancing’s Claudia Winkleman, the awards are one of the most prestigious in the UK property event calendar. This year Estates Gazette focussed wholly on celebrating the individuals and businesses at the forefront of innovation, those who are changing the property sector and built environment for the better.

In a toughly contested category including Ballymore, Places for People, L&G and Get Living, the judges felt that Placefirst’s particular approach to build-to-rent was the overwhelming winner of Residential Innovator of the Year. Here’s what the judges had to say:

Phenomenal, brave, different and focusing on a sector of the market that is underserviced. Placefirst is not just an innovator but the future of residential.

Since handing over the keys to our first residents in December 2014, Placefirst have delivered over 600 homes across the north of England that are setting new standards in private renting. Aimed primarily at households on modest incomes, our £70m investment programme has successfully regenerated neighbourhoods deemed areas of last resort through innovative property remodelling and community-led placemaking.

ABOVE: The Welsh Streets, Liverpool. Streets of Victorian terraced housing have been brought back to life through innovative remodelling and refurbishment.


Through long-term build-to-rent investment, Placefirst are demonstrating that high quality homes and placemaking can be delivered in complex inner urban areas without reliance on public subsidy. Our rental communities to date have transformed over 1000 empty properties, creating modern, energy-efficient homes complimented by parks and gardens where families can put down roots.

We have an ambitious programme of new-build development ahead of us and are currently on site with new rental communities in Sheffield and Sunderland where we are delivering over 220 homes. Our aim is to deliver 4000 homes across the UK by 2023 and firmly establish Placefirst as an innovative leader in UK residential development.

Martin Ellerby, Head of New Business & Innovation at Placefirst commented: “This is a phenomenal achievement for an SME based in Manchester, taking on some of the biggest and best players in the residential sector. The words from the judges were particularly humbling and serve as reminder to keep striving and innovating, never accepting ‘OK’ and always seeking to improve our offer.

We are in a privileged position at Placefirst – for too long renting has been seen as a second-class tenure and this has played its part in the poor quality we see in many areas of the private rental sector. Individuals and families who rely on renting deserve a nice home and community as much as homeowners and, through long-term build-to-rent investment, we are demonstrating this is indeed possible and that renting can provide a genuine alternative to ownership.

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Transformation of Welsh Streets named UK’s Best Residential Project

The 2019 RICS Grand Final took place on Friday 4th October at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, attracting over 500 of the UK’s property professionals and a host of leading developers.

The RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) awards are regarded as the premier property and construction awards in the UK, celebrating the most innovative projects across the regions and their impact on local communities.

Competing against 11 regional finalists, including Placefirst’s The Green (North East), The Welsh Streets in Liverpool was named Best Residential project in the UK.

The Welsh Streets demonstrates how a long-term build to rent approach can deliver innovative design solutions to the growing housing crisis. Working with the proud heritage of Liverpool Placefirst, the Victorian terrace was reinvented through comprehensive remodelling that places the end user at the heart of the design process. Adjacent properties have been knocked through to create large, family homes, and all residents have access to landscaped communal gardens where once there were dark yards and alleys.

ABOVE: The Welsh Streets, Liverpool. Spacious family homes have been created through lateral conversions that offer a new quality benchmark in renting.


Tracey Hartley, Chair of the RICS National Judging Panel (residential) commented:

“Residential is by far the largest sector by value in UK real estate. This award recognises the vital and intimate link between a home and the well-being of its occupants. This should never be outweighed by a dry analysis of the purely financial returns a development might offer. Good residential development breathes life into old buildings, establishes new locations and provides the safe and secure roof over our heads we all need in order to thrive. The judges have seen an array of thoughtful residential schemes from both the public and private sectors where the needs of the occupants have been considered well.


“The Welsh Streets is a fine example of how to breathe new life into tired, rundown terraced housing. Instead of bringing in the bulldozers, sacrificing the established street layout and embedded energy of the existing buildings, Placefirst has imaginatively refurbished the houses and surrounding areas to create desirable, modern homes in an attractive community setting. At a time of acute shortage of quality rental accommodation available long-term at sensible rents, it is heartening to see a PRS scheme achieve just that”.

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Treble of awards for The Green at 2019 British Homes Awards

ABOVE: Placefirst and guests celebrate three awards for The Green. Left to Right: Tony Corr, Graeme Johnson, Zena Namih (ESO), Victoria Hoare, Martin Ellerby, Richard Godsland, Selina Cropper, Max King, Samatha France, Amy Waller (Hartlepool B.C.), Nichola Halverson, Dan Anderson (Fourth Street)


The 2019 Sunday Times British Homes Awards took place on Thursday 19th September at the luxurious Marriot Grosvenor Square in London.

Attracting hundreds of the housing industry’s leading professionals, the awards celebrate exceptional design across every aspect of housebuilding — from one-off houses to major developments, interiors to landscaping, individual extensions to placemaking on a grand scale.

Following Placefirst’s treble of awards at the 2018 British Homes Awards for The Welsh Streets, The Green enjoyed similar success, collecting three awards including the coveted Judges Award for Excellence.

The outright winner at the awards, The Green has transformed over 150 empty homes on the edge of Hartlepool town centre. Larger family homes have been created through lateral conversions, and a new park sits at the heart of the development located on the edge of Hartlepool town centre.

The Judges Award for Excellence, the highlight of the awards, is selected from the twenty award winners on the day by chair of the judging panel, renowned architect Simon Allford. Simon is a founding partner of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) and engages in the broader architectural discussion as a writer, critic, teacher, lecturer, examiner, advisor and commentator.

ABOVE: Collecting the Judges Award for Excellence. Left to Right: Amber Butchart (Host), Max King, Victoria Hoare, Nichola Halverson, Martin Ellerby, Simon Allford (Chair of Judging Panel)


To be in a position to repurpose our shared built heritage is a huge privilege for Placefirst, and we are immensely proud to have collected three prestigious awards from our peers. The Green demonstrates that, with the right approach, there is inherent flexibility in the traditional Victorian Terrace, delivering an attractive combination of new home in a heritage shell.


“For a small coastal town like Hartlepool to be recognised as delivering some of the best housing in the UK is testament not only to the hard-working team at Placefirst, but to Hartlepool Borough Council who have been hugely supportive of our work at The Green. From the outset it was clear that they wanted to do something special with the 170 empty properties which are now The Green, and they understood how our long-term Build-To-Rent investment model could unlock such a challenging regeneration project.

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The Green, Hartlepool awarded Best Residential Development of 2019 at Insider North East Property Awards

The Green, a collection of 88 new homes and a new garden square on the edge of Hartlepool town centre, has been judged the Best Residential Development of 2019 at the Insider North East Property Awards. Held at the Newcastle Gateshead Hilton Hotel on Thursday 23rd May. Attended by over 400 of the regions key property professionals, the awards celebrate the achievements across all development sectors in the region.

In a shortlist of seven developments, Placefirst’s new build-to-rent community impressed the judges with its “quality homes and distinctive placemaking”.

Attending the awards with guests from Hartlepool Borough Council, Martin Ellerby of Placefirst commented: “We are of course delighted with the win, everyone has worked so hard to create a place that families will love renting, and let’s not forget this is a neighbourhood that had previously been written-off for demolition.

“This award helps to strengthen the Placefirst profile in the North East, a region where we look forward to building more great rental communities very soon.”

Amy Waller, Principal Housing Officer at Hartlepool Borough Council commented: “Tackling housing market failure has had significant challenges in Hartlepool and was particularly evident with the delivery of this site.

“The proposal from Placefirst was an innovative approach with some selective demolition to create a central green and creative remodelling of the remaining Victorian terraces.”

“From the outset Placefirst were very clear about their desire to create a place and not just build homes and, as our final HMRI site in Hartlepool, we are delighted with the result.”

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Transformed Welsh Streets collects PRS Deal of the Year at Property Week RESI Awards

Placefirst’s transformative regeneration of the Welsh Streets in Liverpool was awarded PRS Deal of the Year at the 2019 Property Week RESI Awards, held on 15th May at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

The Welsh Streets is repurposing over 400 empty homes in the Toxteth area of Liverpool. Several streets of Victorian terraces are being comprehensively remodelled internally and externally to provide modern homes complimented by a range of street improvements and communal landscaped gardens.

Attended by over 1,200 of the UK’s residential property professionals, the RESI Awards bring together key players in the residential market including leading developers, landlords, house builders, operators, investors, agencies and local authorities.

In a toughly contested category including PRS deals from AIG, Grainger and JLL, the ambition of the Welsh Streets and a commitment to community resonated with the judging panel drawn from 30 of the property sectors leading experts. “Bold and innovative,” said the judges, who praised the scheme’s “community focus” and Placefirst’s ability to overcome adversity to have a real social impact. “This is proper innovation,” they said. “Creative and transformative.”

Placefirst also received a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Best Small Developer of the Year category, which was awarded to Scarborough International Properties for their work at Middlewood Locks in Salford.

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RICS 2019 Awards for The Green and Welsh Streets

Two Placefirst build-to-rent communities have been awarded Best Residential Development of the Year at the regional RICS Awards 2019.

The RICS North East Awards took place on Friday April 26th at the Civic Centre in Newcastle and, from a toughly contested shortlist of seven developments, The Green collected the award for Best Residential Development. RICS judges ‘praised the project team behind The Green for the attention to detail internally and externally on the properties. This has resulted in contemporary and desirable homes that are well let and encouraging community engagement around the central green’.

In the North West, Welsh Streets also won the award for Best Residential Development. Taking place at the Palace Hotel in Manchester on Friday 10th May, the Welsh Streets was selected as the winner from a shortlist of six developments. RICS Judges said ‘the quality rental homes, of various sizes, appeal to families large and small and commended the project for significantly improving the energy efficiency of the homes by over 60 percent, whilst the traditional rear yards and nearby alleys have been radically transformed into a high quality, landscaped areas’.

The double win now sees both The Green and Welsh Streets entered into the national RICS Awards taking place on 22nd October in London.

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Placefirst 2018 Review

The review summarises all the things we have achieved over the last twelve months and highlights the many of the key events throughout the year.

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Welsh Streets wins Best Build-to-Rent Development at 2018 Inside Housing Development Awards

The 2018 Inside Housing Development Awards took place on Thursday 29th November at The Brewery in London.

Attended by over 750 senior housing professionals, the awards celebrate the best in new UK housing, awarding developers and landlords who go the extra mile to create outstanding places and make a meaningful contribution to the current housing crisis.

Placefirst’s transformation of the Welsh Streets was judged to be the Best Build-to-Rent Development in the UK, seeing off stiff competition from large scale build-to-rent developers such as Fizzy Living and Dolphin Square.

The £35m development is regenerating a cluster of 400 empty homes in Toxteth, Liverpool. Set across several streets of Victorian terraces, Placefirst have completely overhauled the properties and surrounding streetscape to reimage the terrace for the 21st century. Larger homes have been created through lateral conversion of adjacent properties, and traditional rear yards and alleys have been replaced by terraces and gardens. These homes now offer best-in-class accommodation for low-to-middle income households and its success has unlocked further regeneration investment within the local neighbourhood.

Martin Ellerby, Head of New Business & Innovation, collected the award on behalf of Placefirst and commented: “Placefirst is a values led business with a clear aim to provide affordable, aspirational homes and places for families that are increasingly reliant on the private rented sector. This win for The Welsh Streets is welcome recognition of all the hard work the team and our partners have put in to deliver this community focused development, and demonstrates that build-to-rent isn’t just about serviced apartment blocks in urban centres”.

The Inside Housing Development Awards were judged by an expert panel of 14 housing executives from the public and private sector including MHCLG, Homes England, RTPI, Design Council and JLL.

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Welsh Streets wins Refurbishment of the Year Award at Building 2018

The 2018 Building Awards took place on the evening of 6th November at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

Now In its 24th year and regarded as one of the most prestigious UK development awards, the event was attended by over 1,400 senior-level directors, chief executives and partners from across the breath of the industry.

Hosted by Rob Brydon and packed with entertainment, the evening was an unparalleled opportunity to highlight success, instil pride and celebrate the very best in UK construction.

Placefirst’s regeneration of The Welsh Streets was awarded Refurbishment Project of the Year, beating off competition from high profile shortlist including The Royal Academy of Arts, The Temperate House at Kew Gardens, and the former BBC Television Centre.

The judges commented: “Welsh Streets is a radical build-to-rent scheme that encourages community and provides a blueprint for developers all around the country to copy.

For a full summary of why the Welsh Streets was chosen at Refurbishment of the Year can be found on the Building website.

The Refurbishment of the Year Award is now the eighth award for The Welsh Streets in 2018, having previously collected three British Homes Awards, three North-West Property Awards, and a Business Insider Liverpool City Region Award.

David Smith-Milne, Managing Director at Placefirst commented:

2018 has been an amazing year for Welsh Streets, but to win this award against such high profile competition is particularly special. Everyone involved in the project has worked so hard to make this a special place for our residents. The homes are unique within Liverpool, offering 21st centrury homes within the shell of traditional Victorian terraces, and setting a new benchmark in affordable market rent”

The Building Awards judges include David Birkbeck (Chief Executive of Design for Homes), Ike Ijeh (Architecture Correspondent at Building) and Lynne Sullivan OBE (Chair of Good Homes Alliance).

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Welsh Streets collects three awards at NWPAs


The 2018 NWPAs took place on Thursday 11th October in the Lutyens Crypt at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

Established over 15 years ago, the NWPAs annual awards, created by Move Publishing, have become an important fixture in the North West property community, celebrating the best of residential and commercial development across the region.

Placefirst’s transformation of the Welsh Streets was the big winner on the night, collecting three of thirteen awards, including the coveted Judge’s Special Award which included developments from Barratts, Redrow and David Wilson Homes.

In addition to the Judges Special Award, the Welsh Streets was also collected the Best Regeneration Award, and Best Affordable Housing Award.

David Smith-Milne, Managing Director of Placefirst commented: “Everyone has worked so hard to make the Welsh Streets a great place to live once again, and it’s thanks to the hard work of our team and the support of the council that we are able to celebrate this amazing trio of awards.

The Welsh Streets is preserving the rich heritage of Victorian Liverpool whilst delivering a range of truly modern family homes that create a distinctive mix of ‘old & new’. More importantly though, the Welsh Streets is setting new standards in renting for families that rely on this sector for their housing needs.

The NWPAs judges include Alastair Shepherd, director of Falconer Chester Hall; Lesley Martin-Wright, CEO of Knowsley Chamber and Head of Business Growth for Knowsley Council, and Elaine Cunningham, owner of Elaine Cunningham Design Studio.

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