Creating places is much more than bricks and mortar

THE word ‘developer’ has negative connotations for many people, writes business editor David Tooley.

Huge, soulless estates packed with identikit houses, no shops or businesses and nothing for the children.

Modern picture of the Wolverton Park development

Modern picture of the Wolverton Park development

Before the Tarmac has dried on the new roads, the developer has long gone with the profits invested in shareholders’ pockets.

But one company at least has set out to change perceptions of the industry.

Places for People professes to do exactly what its name implies – creating mixed communities of renters, buyers and social housing tenants in an area that residents are proud to call their own.

That includes setting up job clubs – the holistic theory being that it’s no good to anyone if people cannot pay their bills.

The way Wolverton was

The way Wolverton was

Places for People also has a ‘try before you buy’ scheme, which allows people to rent before stepping onto the ownership ladder.

The judges of the Operational Excellence Award at last year’s Milton Keynes and North Bucks Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards praised Places for People’s innovation and creativity.

The property managers for the not for dividend company are building communities in Old Wolverton and Brooklands in Milton Keynes.

They also plunged into the long and exhaustive process of gaining planning permission for 300 homes on the site, much of its historic nature being protected.

The £50 million Wolverton Park redevelopment of the old railway yards, Royal Train shed and factories has picked up a string of awards, including most recently the Urban Land Institute’s 2011 Award for Excellence for the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions and was the only British finalist.

Wolverton Park includes 30,000 sq-ft of commercial space, including plans for a restaurant. And over in Brooklands, the company’s looking to find an entrepreneur to run a local shop.

l To see Natalee Hazelwood’s video profile of Wolverton Park, visit www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/business