Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Whirlwind, Brains and the Outsider Are a Winning Trio; ON PROPERTY

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Whirlwind, Brains and the Outsider Are a Winning Trio; ON PROPERTY

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Bill

AN almost audible snort of disdain came from property insiders on July 1 when Housing Minister Grant Shapps endorsed a [pounds sterling]3 billion plan drawn up by three outsiders to build 20,000 rented homes.

Last week Shapps gave further backing to Jackie Sadek, Jason Blain and Paul Evans by telling a Commons select committee what they plan "is absolutely the kind of thing that we want to see. It is a very exciting development".

Who are the trio? What kind of thing? Why should they succeed where property companies and pension funds have failed? Why has their company, UK Regeneration, already had offers of 18 sites from councils that could lead to the building of thousands of homes, 1500 of them on three large sites in London? Finally, why such disdain? Let's take the questions one at a time.

The trio: Jackie Sadek? Think Janet Street-Porter, but even wittier. She is a forceful extrovert with 20 years' experience of cajoling abashed men into doing what they are told in order to get highly complex regeneration projects such as Paddington Basin off the ground. Mrs Whirlwind.

Paul Evans is the quiet one: a man who escaped from the civil service after 25 years to run planning and regeneration departments at Southwark and Tower Hamlet councils. Mr Brains.

Mr Outsider is Jason Blain, a 41-yearold Scot, who says Sadek is "the talent", perhaps because he comes from the talent management world. The former global head of strategy for Sony Entertainment and BBC Worldwide runs a business investing in music, technology and now, perhaps, property.

He arrives with a due sense of wonderment. "The whole process seems to be all about the transaction. There is an almost complete absence as to the value of building a brand."

UK Regeneration plans site-by-site joint ventures into which councils donate land in return for a stake. Why? Because a new Shapps law lets them keep the council tax for six years. Barclays has given an open promise to raise at least [pounds sterling]150 million. Why? Think of the political pressure it is under to lend.

UK Regeneration bothers because Sadek really cares and because Blain thinks they can profit from the caution that has kept insiders outside the rented market. …

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