Property column: Stephen Beech

15 DECEMBER 2016 – Owner and founder of property developer Beech Holdings on the appointment of Manchester City Council’s new chief executive, Joanne Roney.

Following in the footsteps of a giant of British local government won’t be easy.

But I’m very hopeful and confident that Joanne Roney – recommended as the new chief executive of Manchester City Council at a meeting this week – can do just this.

Ms Roney, who last month emerged as strong favourite to succeed Sir Howard Bernstein in the biggest and best job in British local government, has an impressive CV.

A 2012 Birmingham Mail article headlined: ‘Joanne Roney’s remarkable path from a council house to Buckingham Palace’, was of particular interest to myself, Beech Holdings and our 97 staff. Within the news story is a line which refers to Ms Roney’s integral role in a residential scheme that has strong similarities with what we do as a business.

The said scheme is the Park Hill development in Sheffield, which involved the successful transformation of a rundown Grade II listed block of flats.

Ms Roney, who was then working high up at Sheffield City Council, played an essential part in what was a vast and complex regeneration project. And she seems to have performed excellently in all the roles she has held in local government – from her early days as an apprentice in Birmingham to her current position as chief executive at Wakefield Council.

Her next role however is undoubtedly her biggest challenge yet. Saying that, by the time Ms Roney moves into Sir Howard’s office, Manchester will be more than ready to react to any new initiatives she might introduce.

At Beech, we specialise in taking unloved, forgotten buildings in prime locations in Manchester city centre and creating affordable, environmentally sustainable and efficiently designed apartments.

Just last week the Manchester Strategy – which can now be downloaded on the Manchester City Council website – revealed how almost 50,000 people now live in the city centre.

This figure will only grow, with graduates and young professionals crying out for more residential apartments to be built in the city.

One of the ways the city could create more supply to meet the demand is through the Greater Manchester Housing Fund, and more specifically, the project dubbed Northern Gateway.

The gateway, in the Irk Valley area, focuses on delivering up to 8,000 homes. With a major private sector investment partner, due to be selected by the council in the coming weeks, there is an opportunity to appoint developers capable of bringing forward much needed residential schemes for young professionals.

After such an amazing 2016 – which saw us become a M.E.N. Business of the Year winner – it would be great to start working more closely with the Greater Manchester Housing Fund.

 

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