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Foxton Founder Goes Into Affordable Housing

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From the Evening Standard, 15.09.10 - What Foxtons founder Jon Hunt did next... And it's all about affordable housing.

Jon Hunt, the man who founded Foxtons and sold it at the very peak to a bunch of mug punters in the City has a brand new venture, Bacchus Partners.

But now he's making a more high-profile, public comeback. Step forward Bacchus Partners, a property investment vehicle aimed at snapping up those derelict buildings and properties that seemingly litter every city, town and major thoroughfare in Britain.
The clever bit is that Hunt is relying on others to do the spadework for him. He is looking to recruit as “partners” local property experts who will identify the rundown sites. In return for an advance on profits to tide them over and a chunk of equity, they will work full-time for Bacchus, bringing their specialist knowledge to the firm.
His plan is to turn the properties they target into mixed-use — retail and residential — developments, with the emphasis very much on affordable housing. He's relying on the fact that just as there are broken sites, so there are hungry developers who, for whatever reason, can't get the cash they seek.
“We're not looking at central London prime, but on the fringes. We will join up with a housing association and have affordable units upstairs and shops on the ground floor.”
As well as being dependent upon people locating the right sites, they're also putting their faith in the social housing sector. They say they're not bothered by fears public spending cuts will crush social housing contracts (already we've seen Connaught, a leading player in this area, hit the buffers).
“There is huge demand for affordable housing,” says Hunt. “There are at least four million on the waiting list for cheap housing. The Local Government Association made a study in 2008 which found that 1.6 million households required affordable housing. That's four million individuals and it must be up, nearer five million, by now.”
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