The managing director of St James, a housebuilding division of Berkeley Group, has stepped down after fewer than two years in the post.

A spokesperson for Berkeley Group said Brendon O’Neill left the company last Friday.

O’Neill has been replaced by Chris Payne, who was formerly managing director of the Home Counties region of Berkeley Homes.

Before that, he worked at Laing Homes.

St James Homes is a joint venture with Thames Water to develop the utilities company’s redundant sites across London and the South-east.

The division has 2400 homes under development, including Wickham Square in Kensington, west London, where it is building houses priced at £5m.

Tony Pidgeley, the chief executive of Berkeley Group, recently shocked the City by pulling out of traditional housebuilding to turn the company into an urban regeneration specialist.

The company intends to sell 13,000 plots and concentrate on large urban regeneration schemes.