Design-Led Schemes From Ktesius Projects

Posted 3 October 2019 by Lizzie Leigh

This week we catch up with Ken MacRae, CEO of boutique developers, Ktesius Projects...

Ken MacRae tells us why his schemes are design-led, and why Brighton rocks...

Ken, please tell us about what a typical working day might look like for you, as CEO of Ktesius Projects?

Given we are a small development company, I find myself involved in all aspects of the business, from the capital raising stage through to project delivery, and including design and sales & marketing.

A typical day would see me meeting with our investors to discuss current or future financial arrangements, liaising with our design agency on collateral and visiting our sites to check on progress with the project team. There is nothing like seeing a project take shape first hand.

You describe Ktesius as being 'design-led', is it this element of the build that sets you apart from other developers?

Yes, we are firm believers of this. Good design goes far beyond how things look – it’s the way that people live and interact with the spaces you create. Ultimately good design is what creates long-term value – something that we always strive to achieve as a business.

One of your exciting current projects is ROX Brighton, can you tell us more?

ROX Brighton is a new residential-led, mixed-use development on the site of the former Astoria Cinema in the heart of Brighton, combining clever design, specification, facilities and location. It will feature 70 beautifully designed studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and duplexes, and two smart townhouses, as well as a collection of resident amenities and commercial space. 

Who do you think these apartments and townhouses will appeal to?

Brighton is known for offering a great quality of life all round, so has wide-ranging appeal. You have a large number of first-time buyers and professionals in the area, many of whom work in the rapidly growing tech and digital industries, as well as Londoners who are attracted by the hour train journey between Brighton and London Bridge. With the rise of remote working, it’s now possible to enjoy life by the seaside while just coming into London a few times a week for meetings. There is also a large student population in the area, which creates a good rental market.

You've also transformed a period manor house into seven apartments and four new build houses in Keston, Bromley - tell us more.

This grand Victorian residence was latterly used as offices while gradually falling into decline. We have breathed new life into the property to create The Ravensbourne Collection, with a thorough restoration of the house itself complemented by the creation of four new houses. Every home enjoys private outside space, complemented by three acres of mature grounds - creating extremely attractive and relaxing surroundings, despite still being within easy reach of central London.

How important was it for you to retain the integrity of the period features of the manor house?

It is these details that make the difference and create the sense of grandeur, so we meticulously restored or replicated everything, from the high ceilings with intricate detailing to the expansive bay windows, which was certainly challenging at times. This is complemented by a five-star specification, with carefully chosen materials to create the best of both contemporary and classical styling. For the new build houses, we designed something that remained architecturally sensitive to the manor house, with a modern twist.

What advice would you offer anybody considering purchasing a new-build property?

Conducting your own in-depth research is vital. Don’t just take the word of the estate agent or developer. Is it being delivered by a developer that has a good team, track record and financial backing? Is it in an area that has good connections and infrastructure that is likely to go up in value?

How is the south east property market performing at the moment?

As has been widely reported, Brexit uncertainty has played a part in slowing things down but I am a firm believer that as long as you have a well-designed project in a good location, it will sell for a good price. We are in a good position as a developer because we develop small to mid-sized projects, not 300+ unit schemes that can stick around for a while.  

And finally, what's the next big project on the horizon for Ktesius Projects?

We are planning to build homes for Later Living, with an emphasis on lifestyle, wellness and quality amenities. Some of these will be available for retirees to rent long term, which we believe is a market that will grow considerably in the next 10 years or so.

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