Founding Partner

1. You founded the business in 2008, during one of the worst economic downturns in modern history. What gave you the courage and inspiration to do this?

We didn’t have any old legacy problems due to being a new start up business and we started at the bottom of the economic curve, meaning potential development sites were correctly priced and an opportunity not to be missed. Banks also needed assistance and therefore we had some great opportunities to finish old projects.

2. Newby is a mixed-use developer. Why in your opinion is this the best model, as opposed to focusing solely on either resi or commercial?

When we build apartment buildings in urban centres, the Local Planning Authorities insist upon having an active use to the ground floor. Therefore, we plan the ground floor to include commercial space and we encourage local independent entrepreneurs to take up the opportunity to grow their business in this space.

3. The majority of your projects to date have been in Yorkshire – why did you focus on these regions and do you have plans to develop in other parts?

We like to manage the construction on the sites we develop ourselves using our own construction team, so developing sites close to where we are based is a logistical business decision. We do, however, take on sites with a large infrastructure further afield and look to start the development, but then either split it or sell it on, so we like to look at any opportunity, not just in our local area. Newby is well known in North Yorkshire as we understand the market in this area very well, with Harrogate and York remaining particularly buoyant.

4. Last year, Newby secured planning permission to convert a former Nestlé factory into apartments. How did you manage the balance between developing modern apartments whilst preserving the site’s unique history?

The former Nestle factory land is in a prime strategic location for residential development so in order achieve a design that was sensitive and also complimentary to the site’s history we worked closely with the public, local businesses and the City of York Council to achieve this. Through this collaborative working approach, we were able to produce a scheme that safeguarded the future of the site whilst also regenerating it so the area could reach its full potential.

5. Out of all your completed projects to date, which are you most proud of?

We are proud of all of them of course, but as Newby, we are particularly proud of the success of our most recently completed site in Harrogate – Windsor Court. This development was a part vacant office park in the Duchy area, which we re-developed into 27 luxury two and three bedroom apartments and was a developer’s dream as this site was bought, developed and all 27 apartments sold in just 15 months!

6. How do you differentiate yourself from other property developers in the market?

As an experienced developer we deliver a variety of projects with the support of our in-house property and construction team. We have found it far more efficient to undertake all construction work in-house with our dedicated team which enables us to have more flexibility and better productivity – something key that sets us apart from other property developers.

I spent 12 years at City Lofts working with Tony Brooks, the man behind MODA, and learnt layout and design are the absolute key. So many developers forget people have to actually live in this space. So everything from tile cuts, the way the floors run, how the important parts of the kitchen are situated, to how the lighting works and how the apartments or houses flow combine to create the perfect space to live. Time consuming, but vital and a lot of fun and very satisfying. The team at Axis Architecture work very well with Simon and I and accept our near fanatic attention to detail and layouts.

7. With over two decades of experience in the sector, what are the biggest changes you have seen in the property market?

We don’t believe much has changed in the residential market in North Yorkshire. There continues to be a high demand for property and a lack of supply in the area, therefore there is a need for more new homes. The hollowing out of the retail units continues to change in the town centres, which could result in residential being very important to town centre use again.

8. What has been the game-changing moment in your career so far?

In February 2012, Newby alongside partners, The Moorfield Group, purchased Velocity Village, an existing mixed-use development in Sheffield which included 458 residential apartments, 120,000 sq ft of commercial office space, an active business centre and a 550 space car park on two basement levels.

Velocity Village required a £14m capital expenditure programme to replace the façade and roof while leaving the building in full occupation. Newby and Moorfield successfully completed and sold Velocity Village in 2015 to Loanstar which led to Newby having the ability to invest our own equity into deals and become a developer in a true sense of the word, rather than just a manager.

9. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

In 2009 Kevin McCabe from the Scarborough Group met me at a site in Manchester called Milliners Wharf regarding a negotiation and his exact piece of advice was “Stick to your knitting and look after your bankers”.

10. Finally, a bit of fun – please can you tell us your favourite app, book and holiday destination?

My personal favourite app at the moment is Shazam. I like being able to hear a song and quickly get the artist’s name, title and also buy it quickly if I so choose.

I read a lot of books, but one I found very interesting was a book by A. A. Gill called ‘Pour Me’. I love the way he talks about his personal difficult experiences in such a humorous and positive manner. One of his best quotes is, “Pockets were a constant source of surprise – a lamb chop, a votive candle, earrings, notes written on paper and ripped from books, and even, once, a pigeon. Morning pockets were like tiny crime scenes.”

I love to go to Tuscany in central Italy. Not only is this location picturesque, but it also home to some fantastic food, wine and people.