Developer intends to keep control of Ebbsfleet regeneration by developing most homes itself

It has been a week of dramatic developments in the housebuilding sector. First news broke that Wimpey and Taylor Woodrow planned a merger that would create the UK’s biggest housebuilder. Now it has emerged that developer Land Securities is planning to enter the residential market for the first time.

In what is a big departure for Britain’s biggest commercial developer, Land Secs is working on plans to develop the housing element of the Ebbsfleet regeneration in north Kent, rather than entering into a joint venture with a housebuilder.

The 1,450-acre site consists of a string of disused quarries around the Channel Tunnel rail station at Ebbsfleet and close to the Bluewater shopping centre. When it is completed, the 13,000-home development will be 17 minutes from London.

Land Secs is determined to ensure that the scheme is of an even higher quality than its neighbour, Crest Nicholson’s highly praised Ingress Park.

Land Secs is best known for its London offices and retail work. Ebbsfleet would be its first foray into housing, but it is not expected to be the last.

A spokesperson for Land Secs said: “Residential development is increasing in significance with the growth of mixed-use schemes. We have some 15,000 residential plots in the pipeline and it is therefore prudent for us to look at a range of options for their development, which includes joint ventures and developing directly.”

It is prudent for us to look at a range of options for our residential plots land securities

Land Secs is keen to retain as much as possible of the potentially massive uplift in value from the 20-year project.

Roger Madelin, joint chief executive of developer Argent, said Land Secs’ had the opportunity to build up its housebuilding skills. “They’ve a lot to do, but also a lot to learn on,” he said.

Land Secs is not the only commercial developer branching out into residential. Argent is waiting for the legal go-ahead to develop 2,000 homes at King’s Cross, north London, and Quintain has a number of housing-led mixed-use schemes in readiness.

Land Secs is awaiting planning permission on the largest element of the project, a 6,500-home development at Eastern Quarry.

It has entered into a joint venture with Countryside Properties on the 600-unit first phase of Ebbsfleet, but is likely to do the remainder of the housing itself.

Land Secs has also secured consent for 6.3 million ft2 of commercial space at Ebbsfleet.