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Paul Stephens

Paul was one of the two founders of Poltair Homes in 1997. Since then, with Gerry Barnicoat, he has helped oversee the delivery of over 500 houses by Poltair Homes in Cornwall and Devon. The initial philosophy of Paul and Gerry was to build better quality houses with bigger sized rooms and gardens, in good locations as family houses.

Both sides of Paul’s family have their roots in Cornwall and, after qualifying as a solicitor, he was able to move back to Cornwall in the early 1970’s. After a period in private practice as a solicitor – specialising in property and planning law – he decided to launch a Business Expansion Scheme company in 1989 to take advantage of the then government’s incentives for private investors to fund the provision of private rented housing. With the help of two merchant banks, Paul and his wife, Elaine, were able to raise a total of £18 million and provide some 250 rented houses across the whole of southern England.

Unlike others, in 2006 Paul and Elaine began to feel it was unlikely that the stronger economic conditions of that time could last. Thus, the decision was taken for Poltair Homes to reduce its risk exposure by ceasing to buy more land and, instead, concentrating on building out the company’s existing sites. By January 2008 the company had sold all its houses. The feared change in economic circumstances arrived – although not in quite the form expected.

Paul has been largely responsible for the company’s efforts to secure planning permission for its land holdings at Trecerus farm in Padstow. The company’s option was taken in 2004 – but it was not possible to deliver the first houses until 2011. This is merely one example of how the planning process always seems to take longer than expected.

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