Bridges buys first “keyworker housing” block(3)

The UK venture firm with a social mission has bought three apartment blocks for NHS workers in Plymouth, as the issue of affordable housing for public sector workers becomes increasingly important in the UK.

Bridges Ventures, the socially-minded UK firm that invests in some of the country’s most deprived areas, has made its first foray into “keyworker housing”, buying an apartment block for medical staff in Plymouth.

Bridges is investing £2.3 million (€3.4 million; $4.7 million) to buy three blocks of studio apartments, which will be used to house nurses and doctors employed by the Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

The venture firm has joined forces with Key Homes, a private developer that specialises in affordable and social housing. Key Homes, who brought the opportunity to Bridges, will manage the three apartment blocks.

Bridges chief executive Philip Newborough said the area and the sector were both key target areas for his firm. “Not only is [the investment] in one of our key target areas, but it also meets one of our other social objectives of backing businesses connected with healthcare.”

Affordable housing for public sector workers has becoming an increasingly urgent problem in the UK, as soaring house prices have made it more difficult for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder.

Bridges specialises in investments that fulfil both social and financial criteria – ploughing money into under-invested areas while producing strong returns for investors.

The firm’s social mission has a number of high-profile backers. Limited partners in its £75 million CDV Fund II include leading financial services groups like Lloyds TSB, HSBC and Barclays; private equity groups Doughty Hansen and 3i, and charities like Comic Relief. Its board is chaired by Sir Ronald Cohen, the co-founder and former chairman of Apax Partners and another key backer.