Local authorities in the UK are procuring larger, more ﬂexible PPPs through joint ventures valued at up to GBP 1bn. The latest, in Brentwood, outside London, promises much for developer Morgan Sindall with little commitment from the council.
When house prices in Brentwood increased 16% during 2016 – the highest jump in the UK at the time – British tabloids were quick to call it ‘the TOWIE effect, after ITV reality show The Only Way Is Essex, which is based in the town. But the same reporters could just have easily circled any stop outside London on Crossrail’s planned Elizabeth Line (now set to connect Brentwood with central London in 2021) and found a similar trend. Essex commuter town Brentwood is under enormous pressure to deliver new housing, despite having one of the fastest growing rates of unoccupied homes in the country, and last year its borough council selected Morgan Sindall Investments Ltd (MSIL) for a landmark regeneration deal, worth around GBP 1bn over a 30-year development period. The deal is not structured as a traditional public-private partnership (PPP) nor does it oblige the council to provide any land to the private company, yet it is an extremely attractive arrangement for MSIL and the fourth it has won of the kind in recent years.