Property veteran to lead ‘Midlands’ biggest development opportunity’

Sir Chris Haworth, left, newly-appointed chair of the independent board at the East Midlands Development Company, with managing director Richard Carr, right.

A former head of commercial at property consultancy Carter Jonas has been appointed to chair the board leading one of the biggest large-scale development opportunities in the Midlands.

Sir Chris Haworth, who has a 40-year career in the industry, has become independent chair of the East Midlands Development Company, which has been set up to accelerate the development of three huge sites covering an area the size of three London Olympic Parks.

The sites span several hundred hectares and sit next to the M1, alongside both the area of the Government-backed East Midlands Inland Freeport and the approved location for a HS2 station. They include:

Ratclffe-on-Soar Power Station area: the UK’s last coal-fired power plant, due to close in late 2024, and identified as the symbolic focal point for the development of net zero energy and industrial technologies into market-ready products and services. Sited within the Freeport area, it also sits alongside East Midlands Parkway, now confirmed as the site of the region’s HS2 station.

East Midlands Airport Area: the UK’s largest dedicated freight-handling airport is also the centrepiece of the Government-approved East Midlands Freeport and is expected to see significant commercial and residential development.

Toton & Chetwynd Area: A prime development site of around 200 hectares that has been earmarked for the development of an exemplar 21st century mixed-use community and innovation campus. The model development between Nottingham and Derby also includes the site of a proposed new Network Rail station with links across the region.

Haworth’s appointment marks a “significant” acceleration of activity by the DevCo, which has been set up by five local authorities ahead of the parliamentary process needed for it to become a Development Corporation with planning powers.

It also comes as Government is set to provide further details about its ambitions to accelerate regional economic growth through the Levelling Up White Paper.

Haworth said: “This is probably the biggest and most coordinated development opportunity I have been involved with during my career and it will be a privilege to lead the board, which includes a blend of private and public sector expertise.

“I join at a point when the hard work of the public and private sector partners behind this project is beginning to bear fruit, and the board will play a key role in driving real commercial momentum.”

He added: “This is a transformational opportunity for the East Midlands and the timing could not be better. The economy is emerging from the pandemic and investors and developers are looking for strong, long-term opportunities.

“In the context of the government’s ambitions to level-up regional Britain, my view is that this is one of the most coherent and investable propositions in the country, with the DevCo ready to deliver and able to maximise returns for local people.”

Besides an 11-year stint at Carter Jonas, Haworth’s career includes large-scale property joint ventures, and advising on development and planning potential for landowners and local authorities.

He is the second senior appointment at the EM DevCo, and joins managing director Richard Carr on the team.

Carr said: “We’re thrilled to secure a seasoned commercial professional as independent chair of our board, which will provide experienced counsel to both the executive team and the five local authorities whose ambitions brought the DevCo into being.

“The next six months will be an exciting period for the DevCo, as we progress plans to unlock the potential for major developments which will deliver new housing, new industrial and business space, better connectivity, and help place the region at the cutting edge of the net zero economy.”

East Midlands Development Company is being supported by Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire County Councils, Broxtowe and Rushcliffe Borough Councils, and North West Leicestershire District Council.

It is working with East Midlands Airport and Uniper, which owns the Ratcliffe-on-Soar site, and a consortium of universities driving the development of market-ready net zero technologies. The DevCo is also collaborating with Homes England, Network Rail and HS2.

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