Placefirst appoints Paul Westhead as Director of Development

Placefirst, one of the UK’s leading build-to-rent developers, has appointed Paul Westhead as Director of Development. In a new role for the company, Paul will play a key senior role in helping Placefirst achieve its planned target of 3,500 homes by 2023.

With over 30 years’ experience in finance, regeneration and housing, Paul joins Placefirst from Trafford Housing Trust. In his previous roles as Head of New Business and more recently Head of Land and Partnerships, Paul helped establish Laurus Homes, a development subsidiary of Trafford Housing Trust and help set up the innovative joint-venture LLP with the L&Q Group. As Head of New Business Paul led the team that has successfully sourced land for over 2000 mixed tenure homes and prepared those projects pre-construction for the LLP in the past 3 years and established other JV structures to help accelerate housing delivery.

Placefirst designs, builds and manages a growing portfolio of award-winning rental communities that have successfully regenerated inner urban areas through innovative remodelling of Victorian terraced housing. As the company targets 3,500  homes by 2023, the company is diversifying its offer through a range of new-build developments including family housing and multigenerational town centre schemes across the north of England, the Midlands and Scotland.

ESO Real Estate, a majority shareholder in the company, has provided a capital commitment to in excess of £55m, and has been integral in supporting Placefirst to build its organisational infrastructure including the development of Placefirst Construction, the principal contractor for all the company’s developments.

Paul will lead the development strategy of Placefirst to realise their business objectives and growth targets of 3,500 homes by 2023.

Paul commented: “Having enjoyed seven great years at Trafford Housing Trust, and achieved significant growth and diversity, I believed it was the right time to seek a new challenge. The opportunity to join the Placefirst team, to build on the tremendous success they have achieved through their award-winning placemaking and community led developments, was one I could not turn down and I look forward to helping the organisation scale up to meet the housing need of our communities.”

David Christie, Chairman of Placefirst, added: “We are delighted that someone of Paul’s calibre, with proven experience of large-scale housing delivery, has joined the Placefirst team. Paul will play an important role in the next phase of growth towards becoming a national leader in UK build-to-rent housing. There is a genuine need for developers to work with local authorities in the UK to address the acute shortage of housing for families, and Paul has demonstrated considerable success in building strategic relationships.

“During the course of our partnership, Placefirst has enhanced its operational capabilities and, as importantly, with the support of a committed capital facility from ESO Real Estate, Placefirst has been able to access more deals and execute its business plan more effectively, delivering more value and more homes.”

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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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