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Family At The Core Of Successful Property Developers

Posted 27 May 2022 by Lizzie Leigh

We hear from Brian Comer, co-founder of The Comer Group, from how it all started with a career in plastering…

Brian Comer tells us how it was always the goal to be ready to score huge success in property development

Brian, The Comer Group was founded over 30 years ago by you and your brother, Luke; tell us what your early inspiration was?

We started professional life as plasterers in Ireland before moving to London to set up our own business in the 1970s, which provided us with a deep knowledge of what is needed to produce high-quality homes, whilst instilling an ethos of hard work. This is something that runs through Comer Homes today, whilst we also have family at our core, with a number of the Comer family within the ranks helping to grow us into what we are today.

And did you expect The Comer Group to become such a successful international development business back then?

We would have always planned to get as big as we could in property development. It was a case of trying hard, being close to the goal and ready to score. We like to think we can spot a site with potential and that is a skill that has allowed us to produce some of the largest and most successful developments in the UK and abroad.

Today you pride yourself on being able to spot a great potential site where others can’t; why do you think this is?

We have built a strong reputation and presence across the UK by focusing on high-profile and large scale schemes that are, or become landmarks, for the local area. More often than not, we will source a project that was once a grand dame but has fallen into rack and ruin. We know that with some specialist care and attention we can bring these buildings back to life and maximise the potential of the site to produce a development that will breathe life back into the site and allow it to be appreciated for many years to come.

Your current schemes stretch across the UK, is there one area that’s been outperforming the others?

London and the surrounding areas will always command a premium as people look to live within easy reach of the capital city and financial centre of the country. However, the recent pandemic has seen flexible working provide some with the ability to split their time working from home and the office, so they can move a little further out than would have done before. We saw this at our scheme, Royal Connaught Park in Bushey, a collection of over 300 new build and period homes set within the near 100 acre grounds of the former Royal Masonic School for Boys. It was this access to private green space that attracted a wave of buyers who wanted a spacious home that provided the ability to set up and work, whilst also benefitting from a country location that is still within easy reach of central London.

Royal Connaught Park (Comer Homes)

How do you think both the UK and the international property markets will perform in the next 12-24 months?

There are a lot of factors that can come into play in the market of a one to two year period. For example, who could have predicted a couple of years ago that there would be a global pandemic, followed by a war in Europe? Despite this we have seen a record few years in the market, which has largely been driven by high demand. All we can do is control the quality of our developments to ensure people want to keep buying our homes and enjoy living at our schemes.

The Comer Group is about to embark on your biggest project yet, Newland Park – tell us more!

Newland Park is going to be our biggest development to date and after a good few years of planning to get this right we’re very excited for the launch later in the year. Occupying a prominent position on 168-acres of private gated grounds that surround what was once a grand country house in Chalfont St. Giles, the first phase will comprise 74 luxurious houses and apartments. Accessed via an impressive tree-lined driveway, the first collection of 10 semi-detached houses, will benefit from modern interiors, large gardens and private off-street parking. In total, 64 apartments will be available, with open-plan spaces and generous outside space, whilst a very exciting health and wellness facility is planned for the next phase.

Who are these homes going to appeal to, do you think?

We have already had a large number of enquiries and it is a real mix of buyer demographics to register their interest. From downsizers to young couples, we believe the mixture of home types, as well as the wider amenities available at Newland Park will have something for everyone.

If you were to offer advice to a young person about buying a new build property, what would you tell them?

Buy good quality from a developer that doesn’t build out and leave. We manage all of our schemes, so have a vested interest in our homes standing the test of time. In this industry there will always be some snagging from time-to-time and it’s our policy to always work with the buyers to make sure they’re 100% satisfied with the final product, because happy homeowners will create a good community at the development and that is something we pride ourselves on.

And finally, what’s in the pipeline for The Comer Group later on this year?

Aside from Newland Park launching in the coming months, we’re about to launch the final phase at Mast Quay, a highly successful mixed-use scheme in Woolwich, London, as well as launching the first phase of homes at our Build-to-Rent scheme, Whyteleafe House in Surrey. Also in the pipeline is Carmel College, a former Jewish boarding school situated on an 80 acre site in Oxfordshire, with lakes and estuaries that lead onto the River Thames.

 

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