Urban Catalyst is to repackage itself as a consultant after becoming exasperated at the “frustrating” regeneration process.
Chief executive Ken Dytor has revealed that the high-profile company is to turn its back on developing new schemes.
The change of focus for the firm, which was set up in 1998 to take advantage of the government’s regeneration agenda, comes after problems bidding and developing regeneration schemes with the public sector.
Urban Catalyst and architect Terry Farrell and Partners were ditched by Weymouth council after initially being the favoured bidder for a £90m waterfront scheme in July. The developer has also encountered delays on a Barking town-centre scheme.
Dytor said he had decided the firm did not have the financial muscle to compete with developers such as Land Securities and Grosvenor, which could shoulder the front-end development risk on major regeneration schemes.
He added: “Realistically, we’re now saying, ‘do we have the resources to deliver these kinds of schemes?’ On the one hand, the years we’ve spent developing Barking and Bermondsey Spa have been very satisfying, but it’s also been a painful exercise at times.”
Dytor said he planned to turn Urban Catalyst into a development manager, which would be hired by public or private clients to manage difficult regeneration schemes, as well as more conventional consultancy work.
The firm has already picked up pieces of consultancy work at Kent Thameside, Rotherham and for the Greater London Authority. And Dytor has appointed John Sawyer from accountant KPMG and has been working with Richard Green, former chief planner at Birmingham council.
He said: “Our skills base is about bringing together teams and facilitating projects. In many ways, it’s a natural evolution of our strengths.”
Urban Catalyst will continue developing Bermondsey Spa and Barking town centre, but will no longer develop new schemes.
Dytor also hinted that he could step aside as chief executive, though he would stay with the firm. He is the major shareholder but is planning to appoint a respected regeneration figure to lead the development management business. That person could then take over.
He said: “We’ll be looking to bring someone in on the development manager side. If I can find the right person to lead the firm, I’d be keen to do that. Sometimes you need a fresh approach.”