Willmott Residential, the residential arm of Willmott Dixon, has appointed London’s former deputy mayor for housing, Richard Blakeway, as strategic advisor.
The move comes as the company is eyeing growth in the private sale and build-to-rent market.
Richard Blakeway was deputy mayor for housing at the Greater London Authority (GLA) between 2008-2016, working closely 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, applying his experience at the GLA on a national basis.
Blakeway recently appeared as a panellist at the WhatHouse? New Homes Debate on 20 September at the Emirates Stadium, where he told the audience that housebuilders should be focussing on industrial land in London.
In his new role, Blakeway will provide advice to Willmott Residential as it aims to increase development volume across London in partnership with local authorities and other land owners.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to play an important part in Willmott Residential’s growth,” said Blakeway. “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.
“They have ambitious plans to help meet the country’s housing needs and I’m looking forward to working with the Willmott Residential team to help unlock the potential they have to deliver a significant quantity of homes.”
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 Richard’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.
“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. Richard will also be supporting our efforts to develop in partnership with local authorities and housing associations on a more national basis.”