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Models for Public-Private partnerships


Indicative CGI of proposed public realm around Purfleet-on-Thames (AHMM Architects)

What investment lessons can be learned around new models of public-private partnerships in today's development projects?

Chair of developer, Urban Catalyst, Ken Dytor, spoke about this during our online discussion forum around public-private partnerships, and in particular Purfleet-on-Thames. Urban Catalyst is a mixed-use real estate development firm, established in 1998 with a strong history of delivering public-private projects.

'We put together a true partnership with Thurrock Council. They put their land holding into the pot but we didn't have to pay for it upfront', explained Ken.

'This structure allowed us to be more challenging in what we could deliver rather than having an expensive land value eating away from the word go. This is a valuable lesson in how public and private sectors can work together. The development agreement we put in place has been instrumental in allowing us to get where we are in a relatively short space of time, and has enabled the unlocking of the government Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) contribution.

'What the £75 million from HIF does is unlock the infrastructure that allows the housing to be developed. It will enable us to close the level crossing and to build the bridge over the railway and then to to proceed with development of the residential. We have the consent to build up to 2,800 homes. The HIF allows us to put in infrastructure at the early stages and this is important. I think it's quite wrong where communities are created with the housing built first and then infrastructure is put in later, and I think David on the council would agree with that.'

David Moore, Assistant Director of Place, Thurrock Council spoke about infrastructure investment in the region and wider regeneration sites:

'We are talking about over 2,800 houses into the borough so the new infrastructure will help to allay residents' fears. On a wider scale we have many different industries. We have ports, logistics with a history linked to Thames Estuary. We have £20 billion of investment across the borough including £6 billion which the council is directly involved in. The main hubs for development are at Tilbury, Grays and Purfleet. The £75 million from HIF is very important and helpful. We are also bidding for funding from the Future High Streets Fund and Towns Fund for Grays and also Tilbury. We have not got the money yet but we are conscious that Grays would benefit and we are working closely with New River REIT (which owns the shopping centre) and they have their own plan with over £200 million of redevelopment in the pipe-line.'

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