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Renaker's Happy Christmas: Daren Whitaker's Business Unwraps £70M Loans From The Taxpayer

Renaker's 44-storey 100 Greengate in Salford

It’s going to be a very happy Christmas for Renaker, Daren Whitaker’s Manchester development business.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has awarded loans totalling £69.9M to two Renaker special purpose vehicles, Greengate Investments 1 Ltd. and Great Jackson Street Investments Ltd., to develop 973 apartments in Manchester city centre.

The loans are by no means the first Renaker has received from public sector sources, despite complaints that it is promoting schemes that contain no affordable housing.

The two latest schemes at Greengate (supported by a £37.5M loan) and Great Jackson Street (£32.4M) also contain no affordable housing provision.

Public sector loans to Renaker include £35M for 497 homes at the Greengate Salford and £20M for Cambridge Street, Manchester from the Homes and Communities Agency in 2015, £23M for a Castlefield scheme of 300 apartments, £42.5M for 490 in Salford in 2015, £70M to develop 66- and 44-storey skyscrapers at Owen Street with 846 apartments from Greater Manchester's Housing Investment Fund in 2016 and £30M for the Owen Street development from the Greater Manchester Property Venture Fund in 2019.

The Times Rich List 2020 placed Whitaker in 858th place with an estimated net worth of £140M.

The Greengate application is for a site at Collier Street and was approved by Salford City Council in March 2020. The first-phase tower of 50 storeys is mostly (50.4%) small, single-person apartments and mostly (52%) under 57 square metres. 

“The tenure of the residential units is yet to be confirmed. This will be decided through market analysis and local policies. It may be possible that units are offered for sale, or with long-term rental contracts,” Renaker said in a report to councillors.

The 51-storey Great Jackson Street scheme, dubbed The Blade, was approved by Manchester City Council in July.

The two latest loans are from the government-backed Housing Investment Fund, intended to support private sector housing schemes that would otherwise be difficult to finance. According to the GMCA website, loans are up to £30M.

The GMCA revised its strategy for the Housing Investment Fund in October 2019. The new strategy allowed more flexible funding approaches and was based on a 2019 review of the city centre market conducted by JLL that “concluded that demand continues to outstrip supply and supports the City Centre investment decisions taken to date and to be made in the short term,” a report to councillors said.

A further review of the city centre market was due by 2021 at the latest, councillors were told.