Developer aims for largest-ever residential property fund to build 4,000 homes for Olympics

Lend Lease is working on plans for the UK’s first £1bn residential property fund to help build the Olympics athletes’ village.

Nigel Hugill, chairman of Lend Lease Europe, used his keynote speech at this week’s RESI 07 conference in Newport to reveal that the construction giant was working on the fund.

“We’re going to have a crack at seeing whether we can get the first billion-pound residential fund,” he said.

Hugill added that half of the housing at the 4,000-home village in Stratford, east London, would be owned by the fund and rented out after the 2012 Games. Of the remaining housing, 20% will be sold and the balance will be rented out for social housing.

He said a mix of institutional and private investors would be attracted to the residential fund by the cachet of being associated with the Olympics. “It will have an enormous profile,” he said.

We’re going to have a crack at seeing whether we can get the first £1bn fund

Nigel Hugill, Lend Lease

Hugill added that Lend Lease wanted to retain the property to benefit from the expected long-term uplift in value from the regeneration of the Olympic site, where it is providing new social and transport infrastructure.

“We are creating an entirely new neighbourhood,” he said.

Hugill explained that setting up a fund-style vehicle would also help Lend Lease protect its asset. He said renting out the properties would guard Lend Lease against the risk of releasing a large number of homes on to the sales market at once.

Andrew Ludiman, regeneration director at property consultant King Sturge, said: “It’s definitely something investors would be interested in. There is a risk around whether there will be an uplift, but for the Olympics I think this would be a success.”

Nick Jopling, managing director of the residential division at consultant CBRE, said the funds could be used on other mixed-use schemes. “This could work at Ebbsfleet or King’s Cross.”