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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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