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Masshouse Developer Nick Payne Leaves Property Business He Co-Founded For New Venture

1 Exchange Square, Birmingham

Nick Payne, the man behind plans for a 40-acre Digbeth film studios complex and the £350M Birmingham Masshouse build-to-rent scheme, has left Nikal, the developer he co-founded 18 years ago.

The reasons for the departure, recorded on Payne’s LinkedIn page as occurring in January 2021, are not known, Place North West reported.

"Eighteen years is a long time, I wanted to explore some new ideas in proptech but mainly housing: BTR, and more conventional housing, and to unlock affordable housing solutions in the BTR sector. Covid felt like a good time to leave and I'm now speaking to like-minded investors," Payne told Bisnow.

Nikal, co-founded by Payne and Alan Murphy in 2003, acquired a new chairman in August 2020 with the appointment of Richard Fee. Fee has replaced Payne on the board of the Blackpool regeneration team.

Nick Payne, pictured at the launch of Blackpool regeneration plans

Payne has helped transform central Birmingham. Exchange Square phase one, part of the wider Masshouse project, comprises 603 rental apartments in three buildings of 27, 14 and seven storeys. The £120M phase two project will include 375 apartments within a residential block of 37 storeys. A deal has been agreed with Grainger, to acquire the apartments for £77M.

Nikal has also reached an agreement with Whitbread to create a 235-bed Premier Inn Hotel in a building of 15 storeys.

Under Payne’s leadership Nikal also backed the Mercian Studios plan initiated by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight.

The proposals for a 30- to 40-acre studio complex in Digbeth were expected to move forward early last year, but appear to have stalled. The 1M SF studio and creative hub was to form the centrepiece of a new creative community.