Maple Grove

Property and Construction Update – Karen Hirst

15th February 2019


I have been involved in Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Property and Construction Group for four years since 2015. At the time I was working as Development Director at Salford City Council and was asked to join the group to bring in a public sector angle. The Group is a really interesting mix of principals and advisors in the property and construction sector who are working in Greater Manchester.

Maple Grove Developments undertakes a significant amount of work in partnership with the public sector and the experience I have had working both with and for a Local Authority has been invaluable in my current role. I believe that successful partnerships come from setting a common vision or goal which then enable us to understand each other’s drivers, priorities and challenges.

I was very fortunate to take the lead and be involved in a number of successful partnerships in Salford. These were with major developers and landowners including; Peel, English Cities Funds (Muse/Legal & General/Homes England), Ask Real Estate, Countryside, Sigma, Bruntwood and Urban Splash who have been instrumental in delivering and shaping the vision. The results are there for all to see with over £1 billion of investment having been made in Salford and that figure continues to grow.

In Eric Wright Group we deliver partnership projects across all of our business divisions and our ownership structure supports this way of working. The Group is 100% owned by the Eric Wright Charitable Trust so in everything we do we give back locally to support the people living in the communities in which we operate. This fundamental value is essential to us – we are a commercially focused business with a social purpose.

In terms of Maple Grove’s development projects these are all delivered in partnership with the public sector, to a greater or lesser extent, which is essential to make the significant changes to town centres and public places which we need to see coming forward.

There are many different legal structures that can be adopted, from Joint Ventures or Limited Companies/Development Agreements etc, however, the secret is to have an agreed common goal with clearly defined objectives, milestones and timescales.

The key is then for the partnership to deliver on those together and never look at the legal agreements again.  As with all projects you need a lead but it is the team of advisors, funds and the occupiers or customers who make it happen and who will ultimately make it a success.

Being a Member of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Property and Construction Group helps us to ensure we are strengthening those links between the public and private sector teams who are working in the Property and Construction sector. We need to understand each other’s challenges and be clear in what we can do to help each other going forward, especially with the uncertainty around Brexit.

In Manchester, Eric Wright Construction are working with the developer Manchester Life having been selected as one if its three preferred contractors. The residential schemes delivered to date are One Cutting Room Square and Sawmill Court and we are on site with Vesta and New Little Mill. This is one example of the good relationship we have with many of the City’s leading developers as a reliable and trusted contractor.

The key to success, both at work and I believe at home, is taking a truly collaborative approach to the tasks which sometime seem so large they can’t be done. By bringing together partnership teams we harness the best knowledge and experience to ensure we can deliver great schemes which add huge value to our communities