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Wellcome Trust to buy developer Urban&Civic for £506million

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The Wellcome Trust has agreed a £506million deal to buy Urban&Civic, the property developer behind plans transform the former Waterbeach Barracks site into a 6,500-home community.

Urban&Civic will provide 6,500 new homes in the development of the former barracks at Waterbeach. (43067864)
Urban&Civic will provide 6,500 new homes in the development of the former barracks at Waterbeach. (43067864)

The deal was revealed on Friday (November 6) and will be put to Urban&Civic shareholders who are expected to approve it.

Wellcome funds scientific and healthcare research using the returns from a £26.8bn investment portfolio, and the Wellcome Genome Campus in Hinxton is home to some of the world’s foremost institutes and organisations in genomics and computational biology. Wellcome said that Urban&Civic’s business model is well-aligned with Wellcome’s own long-term investment philosophy and it intends to support the Urban&Civic Group’s future growth ambitions.

Peter Pereira Gray, managing partner and chief executive of the investment division of Wellcome, said: “We are very pleased to announce this recommended offer, which is fully aligned with our existing strategy of investing in businesses over the long term.

“We know the Urban&Civic business and its experienced management team from our recent joint venture together. We welcome Urban&Civic’s management and employees to Wellcome and look forward to working with them to invest in and develop the business further. We believe the two groups’ complementary strengths will create a business well-equipped to deliver Urban&Civic’s long-term potential.”

Alan Dickinson, chairman of Urban&Civic, said: “The proposal rests on comprehensive industrial logic. Urban&Civic was established just 10 years ago with the specific intention of disrupting prevailing residential presumptions and now leads in strategic site master development. Wellcome is steeped in property experience and has a strong record of alternative asset class investment. The acquisition provides a persuasive outcome for all stakeholders.”

Urban&Civic’s landscaping work on Waterbeach new town has started. Its outline plans would provide at least 1,950 affordable homes, cycle and public transport upgrades, a swimming pool and four schools. The first homes will come forward in 2022. The scale of the early works – which will cover some 100 acres of the first phase of development – has been supported by infrastructure funding from Homes England.

Mr Dickinson said: “Comprehensive alignment with the objectives of Homes England and respective local authorities will be maintained and reinforced.

“The growing residential communities that are being created by Urban&Civic, with the involvement of valued and reputed partners, can all be confident in a continued determination to do things right. The move is especially timely as the government consults on its Planning White Paper. The introduction of additional, patient institutional capital is a key component of successful large site delivery to meet identified housing need.”

Urban&Civic is the master planner at Alconbury Weald, located on the site of the former RAF Alconbury. The 1,425-acre site will provide 5,000 homes, three million square feet of commercial space and 700 acres of green open space.

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