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Sun June 20 2021

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Willmott Dixon recruits former GLA deputy mayor

1 Nov 16 Willmott Dixon has recruited London’s former deputy mayor for housing, Richard Blakeway, to its housing development arm.

He will work as a strategic advisor to Willmott Residential, which was set up in May 2016 to grow the group’s residential development pipeline.

Blakeway was deputy mayor for housing at the Greater London Authority (GLA) between 2008-2016, working with the then Mayor Boris Johnson to formulate and deliver London’s housing strategy. After leaving the GLA, he spent a number of months at No 10 Downing Street advising the Cameron government on housing policy.

In his new role, Blakeway will provide strategic advice to support Willmott Residential’s aim to increase development volume across London in partnership with local authorities and other land owners; especially in growing its build for rent business Be:here.

Willmott Residential delivers homes for sale through Prime Place and private rent through Be:here, with 7,500 units in construction or pending development. In addition, Willmott Partnership Homes builds 2,000 homes a year for a client base that includes housing associations, developers and local authorities.

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Nic Simpkin, chief executive at Willmott Residential, said: “Richard brings a tremendous breadth of knowledge of housing with a proven track-record for unlocking opportunities to deliver significant numbers of homes while at the GLA. I’m delighted Ric’s experience is going to play a key role in the next phase of our growth as we target new land opportunities, including creating a real step change in build for rent homes, with our next development in Hayes for 118 homes being delivered next month and developments at Barking and Kew ready to start having obtained planning consents.”

“Richard will help strengthen relationships with key partners and we’ll benefit from his insight in planning and policy across the country. This advice will support our goal to regenerate more estates and turn brownfield sites into thriving new communities. Ric will also be supporting our efforts to develop in partnership with local authorities and housing associations on a more national basis.”

Blakeway said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to play an important part in Willmott Residential’s growth. I’ve been impressed with how its build-for-rent company Be:here has raised the bar for this emerging asset class and given the huge availability of institutional investment in money for build-for-rent, coupled with the significant need, we can really increase the availability of quality homes for people to rent.”

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