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Placefirst CGI Longsight Manchester Apartments

Placefirst Reaches Construction Milestone at Manchester Residential Scheme

Placefirst’s £8m Manchester residential scheme of 53 high quality apartments in Longsight has topped out. Placefirst is a leading and award-winning build-to-rent provider with over 1,300 homes, and a further 1,000 in the pipeline and under construction.

Work on the development began in March 2021. The topping out represents an exciting construction milestone, with the former job centre’s rooftop extension now complete and the building reaching its highest point.

The rooftop extension has given a new lease of life to this building and will accommodate eight homes with stunning views across to the Manchester City Centre skyline. Ground floor residents will have the luxury of private entrances and dual aspects with windows at the front and rear.

The overall scheme comprises a mix of high-specification apartments, ranging from studios to 3 beds, and is on track for completion in Spring 2022.

Alongside the topping out, the internal fit out is also well underway and the build programme is making great progress. Interiors will include high quality, modern kitchens and bathrooms and residents can expect top spec finishes throughout and bright communal areas. All apartments will also be available with a furniture package, and show homes will be launching in the coming weeks.

Longsight has fantastic links to the centre of Manchester, making it an ideal location for commuters, and in turn shall add further value to the local community with increased footfall for amenities and leisure facilities.

Placefirst worked with Project 3 Architects to repurpose and transform the former job centre, paying close attention to sustainability and modern design. The regeneration specialists also partnered with an arboriculturist and Manchester City Council to plant new trees and install new public realm, also adding a perimeter hedge and protect high value trees in the southwest corner of the site.

Energy efficiency of the apartments will be maximised by incorporating renewable sources such as solar panels, improving Psi values to limit heat loss and electric panel heaters that have a high level of control for residents.

All apartments will be available for long-term let through Placefirst as part the professional landlord’s commitment to offering a viable alternative to outright home ownership. Residents will also benefit from a dedicated resident services manager as part of the developer’s dedication to high quality service and community engagement within their schemes.

David Mawson, chief executive at Placefirst commented: “We are excited to have reached this construction milestone where despite the challenges of the past year, the hard work undertaken by our team and partners has seen a former derelict building brought back into use, to transform it into a thriving, sustainable neighbourhood and providing 53 new homes.

“This development in the up-and-coming area of Longsight is another great demonstration of our commitment to placemaking and shall provide high-quality apartment living for local residents with excellent links to Manchester City Centre and surrounding areas.

“To see the building topping out is a great step in bringing this building back to life, and we look forward to its completion next year and residents moving in.”

Craig Smith, architect director for Project 3 Architects, added: “It has been fantastic to work in partnership with Placefirst on this project for the adaptive re-use of a former office building, and witness the completion of the roof structure. The rooftop extension, which has been designed to complement the existing surroundings, helps bring the building to life and will create desirable and attractive much-needed homes for local residents, whilst also offering stunning views of the city skyline.”

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Placefirst’s major £65m City Centre Regeneration Plans Approved by Wolverhampton Council

A proposal by Placefirst for a transformative regeneration scheme of 366 new homes and commercial space in the heart of Wolverhampton’s historic Canalside Quarter has been approved.

The £65m proposal directed by the leading UK build-to-rent provider is for an ambitious residential scheme, to be located close to Wolverhampton’s new £150m transport Interchange, on land off Lower Horseley Fields in the city centre.

Following approval at planning committee earlier in the year, full planning permission and listed building consent has now been granted.

The development will deliver a new canalside community as part of a wider regeneration project in the area, working alongside the City of Wolverhampton Council, Canal and River Trust and West Midlands Combined Authority. It will provide a mix of townhouses, new build apartments and commercial space across five acres of brownfield land.

Sensitive restoration of heritage canalside properties including several listed buildings, and major environmental improvements will be implemented in the scheme, which is designed by award-winning architecture practice jmarchitects, with WSP as planning and heritage consultants.

Included in the regeneration and Placefirst’s commitment to placemaking, a new promenade, public open spaces, landscaping and pedestrian access to the canal towpath will also be created, taking full advantage of the heritage waterways.

The development is part of Placefirst’s expansion to the West Midlands joining its portfolio of national regeneration projects, and once complete, will transform this former industrial area into a vibrant canalside community with a mix of housing options. Following site preparation, work is expected to start on site in Summer 2022.

Darran Lawless, development director for Placefirst commented: “We are delighted to receive full planning approval for this transformative development in Wolverhampton’s Canalside Quarter. We are proud of all the hard work undertaken by the whole team and our partners, that will enable a brownfiled site situated in such a historic location to reach its true potential, creating an exciting, sustainable new neighbourhood.

“The focus on placemaking and development of public realm at this ­waterside development, is another example of Placefirst’s commitment to delivering schemes that will rejuvenate communities, and adds to our track record of creating neighbourhoods with a real sense of place.”

Councillor Stephen Simkins, City of Wolverhampton Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “The full planning permission and listed building consent now gives Placefirst the green light to get this transformational scheme in Wolverhampton off the ground next year.

“They will deliver a nationally significant development that not only brings back into use a large parcel of brownfield land but also enables the city to take advantage of our fantastic waterways, and the heritage that comes with it, to provide a sustainable community where people want to live and work, now and in the future.

“The Placefirst scheme will also generate around 150 jobs and boost our economic recovery from Covid-19.

“Urban living forms a critical part of how we are re-imagining our city centre and will help us meet the increasing demand for housing.

“Canalside is a large and exciting opportunity and the Council is working hard with its partners to provide the determined and skilful leadership needed to realise opportunities like this.”

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Esh Winning CGI Placefirst

Plans approved for Placefirst’s £11m Durham residential scheme

Leading and award-winning build-to-rent provider Placefirst has had plans for an £11m residential development in Esh Winning approved by Durham County Council today.

The development is located six miles west of Durham city centre, and will transform a two-hectare brownfield site that has been derelict for over a decade, including the delivery of 54 bungalows – the largest delivery of bungalows in a generation.

Placefirst, in partnership with architect POD Newcastle and landscape architect Southern Green, will deliver 89 high-quality homes in total, a mix of bungalows and three-bedroom properties, to create a multi-generational community.

As regeneration specialists, Placefirst’s commitment to placemaking and sustainability is showcased through the creation of unique areas of open space and landscaping, which intergrate existing high value trees and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS).  The homes will also be modern and energy efficient, minimising fuel bills for residents.

All Placefirst homes and neighbourhoods are specifically designed and built for quality private rental. Esh Winning is no different, and the development is also set to provide a boost to the village, benefiting local services, businesses and amenities.  The site’s proximity to the open countryside and green space will be attractive to new residents, as well as being within short commuting distance to key areas of employment.

The planned development represents Placefirst’s continued dedication to the single family housing BTR market, and builds on their strong track record of delivering other schemes including The Welsh Streets in Liverpool, and Sky Edge in Sheffield.

Esh Winning will also follow in the footsteps of other successful Placefirst schemes in the region, such as The Green, a radical transformation of three streets of Victorian houses in Hartlepool, and the hugely popular Scholar’s View, a 116 home new build neighbourhood in Hetton-le-Hole in Sunderland, which is due to be completed in early 2022.

Darran Lawless, development director at Placefirst commented: “We are delighted that Durham County Council has approved our plans to transform this previously derelict site into a high-quality sustainable neighbourhood, with much needed new homes for the local area. This exciting scheme will build on our success within the North East where we are establishing a stunning portfolio of developments.

“Our track record of placemaking and building sustainable communities is reflected in our plans for Esh Winning, which will be a significant regeneration scheme, making a lasting and positive impact on the local community. We look forward to starting work onsite in 2022.”

Ward Councillor Marion Wilson said: “ This development will be a fantastic addition to Esh Winning.  It’s great to see that 54 much needed bungalows will be brought to the village along with family housing. This development will help support and retain local businesses and bring economic benefit to the area.”

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Central Street at the heart of Bolton regeneration plans

Space has been cleared for more than 150 town centre homes as another of Bolton Council’s key regeneration sites begins to take shape.

Council Leader, Cllr Martyn Cox, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Cllr Adele Warren, and Placefirst’s Development Director Darran Lawless, recently visited Central Street where a major development scheme is gathering momentum.

After securing Brownfield Housing Land funding, the site has now been cleared by Forshaw Demolition Limited ahead of work by leading and award-winning build-to-rent provider Placefirst to deliver over 150 homes, commercial units, and pedestrian-priority spaces.

Central Street will form part of the wider Croal Valley intervention area which will provide a mixture of riverside housing and green space alongside a reanimated River Croal.

The broader scheme will also provide a scenic active travel link between Queens Park and the town centre.

It is one of six key intervention areas in the Bolton town centre masterplan, with the council establishing a £100m fund to attract private sector investment.

The land at Central Street, including the shops and car park is owned by Bolton Council after it was acquired during 2018 and 2019.

Cllr Cox said: “There is visible progress being made at regeneration sites across the town centre and it was great to visit Central Street to see the work first-hand.

“A key part of our masterplan is redeveloping brownfield land and making the town centre a vibrant and attractive place to live.

“I look forward to watching the progress both at Central Street and at other sites in the weeks and months to come.”

Cllr Warren said: “Not only will this development provide much needed homes to meet growing demand, but the Croal Valley intervention area will also create green space and boost active travel.

“Along with last week’s news about the Bolton College of Medical Sciences and securing Greater Manchester Brownfield Housing funding for Farnworth, there is real momentum behind regeneration projects right across the borough.”

Darran Lawless, development director at Placefirst said:

“We’re excited to be involved in this transformational development with Bolton Council, to deliver new high-quality homes for rent in the town centre.

“Regeneration of this former brownfield site is another example of our dedication to placemaking and creating thriving neighbourhoods where people want to live.

“Visiting the site to see the progress the teams have made has been fantastic. We look forward to the progression of this project, and the boost it will provide to the local economy.”

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Plans approved to renovate Victorian Cottage within Placefirst’s Welsh Streets scheme

Award-winning build-to-rent provider Placefirst has had plans approved to renovate a derelict historical house and garage within their existing Welsh Streets scheme in Liverpool, to create three bespoke high-spec homes with retained period features.

As part of the penultimate phase of the impressive Welsh Streets development, work on Ivy Cottage will commence in 2022, integrating it into the wider regeneration of the overall development.

Placefirst is excited to bring back into use and secure the long-term future of Ivy Cottage, which was in danger of being lost. Designed by MBED Architects, attention to detail and retaining the property’s original features has been paramount. The material palette will be informed by and similar to that used on other existing buildings within the development.

Work began in 2016 on the Welsh Streets development in the Toxteth area of Liverpool. As well as fantastic links to the city centre and large local parks, the area is famous for featuring in the BBC drama Peaky Blinders, the birthplace of The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, and previous home of Jean Alexander.

Since commencing, Welsh Streets comprises over 280 refurbished and new-build homes ranging from one to five bedrooms, spread across five streets. Work has also been completed across the site to create improved public realm, street planting and communal open space.

Placefirst has worked collaboratively with Liverpool City Council to bring life back to Welsh Streets, providing high-spec accommodation with private gardens, communal spaces and stylish interiors.

This stage signifies Placefirst’s continued commitment to the regeneration of the area and further activation of South Street, which will see this once secondary alley route become a safe and welcoming environment for residents.

David Mawson, chief executive for Placefirst, commented: “We are thrilled to receive planning approval for the transformative redevelopment of Ivy Cottage, a stunning historical building that shall be sensitively reused to create three bespoke family homes, and give the building a new lease of life.

“The attention to detail in retaining its period features will maintain its character and make it a stand out feature of the thriving Welsh Streets development.

“We look forward to the continued progression of this project and are proud to be bringing life back to a charming Victorian building, for new residents to enjoy.”

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Placefirst appoints new Chief Executive and Chairman to lead next phase of growth

Placefirst, one of the UK’s leading providers of award-winning rental communities, is pleased to announce the appointment of St Modwen veteran Bill Oliver as Chairman and Kier’s David Mawson as Chief Executive as the firm continues its ambitious expansion plans. Bill and David will begin in early March 2020, taking over from David Smith-Milne, Placefirst’s founder.

Bill, a veteran of the housebuilding market with over 35 years’ experience, currently serves as Non-Executive Deputy Chairman of Churchill Retirement Plc and Non-Executive Director of Safestore Holdings Plc. Bill retired from the Board of FTSE 250 property developer St Modwen in 2016, having joined as Finance Director in 2000 before stepping up the role of CEO four years later. Prior to St Modwen, he held roles at Barratt Developments, Alfred McAlpine, The Rutland Group and Dwyer Estates. A qualified Chartered Accountant, Bill was a member of the advisory board of the Government’s Regeneration Investment Organisation and a Land Commissioner for the West Midlands Combined Authority.

David Mawson is an experienced managing director with a track record in delivering organic development and profitable growth. He joins from Kier Group plc where he latterly led the group’s FM Business, Housing Maintenance Business and Environmental Business. Prior to Kier, David held a number of Director roles at Connaught and Wharfedale Developments and had a voluntary position as a Non-Executive Board Member of Community Gateway Housing Association.

Placefirst is a pioneer of the fast-growing BTR (build-to-rent) market and has delivered over 500 homes across the north of England, specialising in transforming neglected inner-urban neighbourhoods through innovative refurbishment, development and a commitment to community placemaking.

A blend of cornerstone and new investment from ESO Capital supports Placefirst’s ambitious growth plans. With a secured pipeline of over 1,500 homes and an ambition to deliver 4,000 homes by 2023, the company is set to expand from its north of England base into new regions including the Midlands and Scotland. The near-term development pipeline includes new sites at Wolverhampton, Bolton, Newcastle and Manchester.

The company has significantly broadened its senior executive team under the leadership of Placefirst founder David Smith-Milne, who led the business since its foundation in 2009 and has now stepped back from the managing director role as part of a transition plan. David was instrumental in shaping the strategy and building the strong relationships with local authorities, landowners and other stakeholders which set the foundations for strong future growth. David has sold a substantial amount of his stock in Placefirst to ESO Capital, albeit remains a significant shareholder. He is now exploring other property start-up ventures.

Bill Oliver, Chairman of Placefirst, commented:

Placefirst is one of the UK’s truly inspirational developers of rental housing, providing modern families with the quality homes they need. There is no coincidence that the build-to-rent market is growing rapidly as we struggle as a nation to solve the acute shorting of housing. I am very much looking forward to applying my experience to support Placefirst’s growth.

Bill Oliver


David Mawson, incoming Chief Executive of Placefirst, added:

I am delighted to be joining Placefirst at such an exciting time for the company. Through the strong leadership of founder David Smith-Milne, Placefirst has quickly established itself as a leader in the UK build-to-rent market and has an ambitious pipeline of funded growth. I’m looking forward to working with the talented Placefirst team and hitting the ground running when I join in early 2020.

David Mawson

David Smith-Milne, founder and former managing director of Placefirst, commented:

Having founded Placefirst some 10 years ago, I am proud that we are now firmly recognised as a pioneer in developing homes for rent properties. It is a testament to the team that Placefirst offers a genuine quality alternative to home ownership for the growing number of in-work households unable to access home ownership and our commitment to quality has resulted in over 20 national and regional awards over the last three years. I have no doubt that the firm will go from strength to strength.

David Christie, Head of ESO Real Estate, commented:

David Smith-Milne’s enthusiasm and drive to grow Placefirst was one of the key reasons we were attracted to first invest in the business back in 2016. We want to thank him for all his hard work and dedication and wish him well for the future. We welcome Bill Oliver and David Mawson, who offer a wealth of industry knowledge, and look forward to working with them as Placefirst pushes forward with its next phase of growth towards becoming a national leader in UK build-to-rent housing.

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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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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 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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Placefirst proudly celebrates another award for its West End One development

Specialist build-to-rent developer Placefirst is proudly celebrating another award for its West End One development at the annual Northern Design Awards ceremony held last week.


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