Former Countryside executive Trevor Selwyn will lead move to target housing in the capital

Crest Nicholson has appointed former Countryside executive Trevor Selwyn to head up a £100m-turnover London business as the housebuilder bids to expand under new ownership.
The firm, which saw its purchase by US private equity firm Varde complete in April, is to set up a new business in the capital as the housing market elsewhere in the country falters.

Selwyn, who was land director at Countryside for 14 years before moving to social housing builder and contractor Team Homes in 2003, said he is aiming to build the business to a scale to sell 300 homes a year by 2014-15.

The London arm will focus on sites within the centre of the capital, a market Crest has not previously focused on, and will commence with two sites for a total of 135 homes in Old Street and Stockwell.

Selwyn said: “The new business will have a very clear focus. We’ll buy sites of between 50-150 units in size, and we’re not going to be doing massive urban regeneration schemes or 20-storey towers.”

He said the company will build homes to suit a range of different markets in the capital, from first-time buyers and buy-to-let purchasers, to prime London property buyers.

“We want to tap into all the purchasing bands. It helps spread the risk,” he said.

Selwyn was appointed by Crest chief executive Stephen Stone over the summer as part of the company’s expansion plans under its new owners.

The expansion follows a difficult period since the credit crunch, as Crest’s bankers, led by Lloyds HBoS, took control of the business, which retained £500m of debts.

The firm slipped from the eighth to 13th largest housebuilder in the UK by turnover in its 2010 accounts. Crest’s move will see it compete with the London business started by Redrow executive chairman Steve Morgan over the past year, and new venture London Square, as well as traditional London builders Berkeley and Barratt.

Galliford Try’s housebuilding arm, Linden Homes, said it was shifting its focus to London with a range of new developments.