Construction firm Legendre UK has expanded into property development with an initial eye on build-to-rent and student accommodation in Greater London.
It has appointed Nicolas Swiderski, former managing director of Linkcity Australia, to lead the new venture as head of property development.
The company said the move replicated a similar model adopted by French-based parent company Groupe Legendre, which operates as both a contractor and developer.
It was also a “natural progression” for the firm in the UK, which recently invested in projects including Sheepcote Road, an affordable-housing site in Harrow for Pocket Living, and a residential scheme for Matching Green in Dockley Road, Bermondsey, which includes private and social housing, including shared ownership.
Legendre UK said it was planning to build out all of its development projects itself, taking advantage of its developer role to influence decision-making from the project’s inception, while partnering with like-minded clients that prioritise environmental, social and corporate governance issues.
The firm would place a particular emphasis on expanding its portfolio of retrofit projects, it said.
The Legendre UK development branch is to target projects in cities including Brighton, Bristol and Birmingham, with its initial priority being residential, build-to-rent, co-living, and student accommodation within the Greater London area.
“These sectors offer resilient prospects even in times of uncertainty and align with the growing demand for affordable housing solutions across the country,” it said.
Managing director Thomas Vandecasteele said the expansion into property development was logical now that Legendre was an established contractor in the UK market.
“It makes complete sense to further our expansion through funding more client schemes or by initiating our own projects,” he said.
Vandecasteele added that Swiderski’s expertise in the UK market, student accommodation and the private-rented sector aligned well with the challenges faced by the industry, including project viability, high financing costs and the increasing cost of construction.
Swiderski, who was head of student housing and higher education for Linkcity in the UK before moving to Sydney six years ago to set up the company’s Australian operation, said that against a backdrop of market uncertainty, embracing risk and seizing opportunities was vital.
“As developers navigate uncertainty, we see a chance to step in, leveraging our resilience to capitalise on opportunities, as well as our excellent construction knowledge, track record and financial expertise,” he said.