Meet the Lincoln brothers behind the £30 million Jackson & Jackson Developments company in Lincoln, paving the way for sustainable, innovative accommodation, and introducing a new concept for student living in the city centre.
Cameron, 27, and Dominik Jackson, 30, are going the extra mile to achieve quality student living and developments that communities can be proud of. Their most recent business venture is the result of a five-year partnership in property, which accelerated from two-bedroom house renovations to multi-million pound luxury apartment buildings.
Between the entrepreneurial duo, their working lives have spiralled from paper rounds, motorsports and music, to electric cars and wedding hair, before landing on a property and innovation niche that would brew up a storm in their home city.
Dominik, Cameron and their younger brother Josh went to William Farr School in Welton. While Dominik leapt straight from high school graduation into the driver’s seat of a Formula BMW ADAC Series alongside team mate Sebastian Vettel, Cameron moved to London as the drummer of Lincoln three-piece band ‘No Junk No Soul’.
Cameron spent a year studying drum tech and working behind a bar before moving back to Lincoln and co-founding The Wedding Hair Company, with his girlfriend Emily Kent at the helm. Meanwhile, Dominik earned his degree at the European Business School in London. As a fledgling graduate, Dominik co-founded My Electric Vehicle, designing and manufacturing electric resort vehicles. He continues to manage the Shanghai-based company, travelling regularly.
Stepping up the property ladder
The Jackson brothers found their calling in property after being persuaded by a friend to look at the market. “I’d already done up a range of properties from around the age of 21 to 25 and Lincoln really suited the business model that we wanted to push,” Dominik explained. “Generally the further north you go, the more affordable the properties become.”
Unity Property Group was founded by the brothers in March 2009; they completed almost 70 full developments in the first two and a half years within central Lincoln. Cameron said: “I think we were quite lucky in the beginning because we managed to strike up some good working relationships, and they are still getting stronger and stronger.”
The brothers are partners of the Investors in Lincoln mission to regenerate the city. Dominik explained: “Our father, who built up the family business Jackson Building Centres, was part of the Investors in Lincoln venture in 1991. It’s a really good group of people with a really good agenda for getting things going in Lincoln.”
Other Investors in Lincoln partners include the City of Lincoln Council, Lincoln Cathedral, Lincolnshire County Council, Lindum Group Ltd and Lincolnshire Co-operative Ltd.
Dominik Jackson said:
I would say our dad, Simon Jackson, has been an inspiration. He built his business up from around seven branches to around 20. That was the family business for 55 – 60 years, so we were always brought up in and around business, and it’s just naturally the way we think.
Dominik and Cameron Jackson inspect the progress at The Gateway with Richard Chaman, Operations Director for Kier Contruction Central.
A vision for Lincoln student living
In January 2013, the vision for Lincoln development took a leap with the launch of Jackson & Jackson Developments. “We started in the dip of a recession”, said Cameron. “Between 2008 and 2009 it was day and night in terms of people’s attitudes to property and it was good for us to look and say ‘OK, that’s what it looks like to get it completely wrong’. We started on the more conservative approach, not over-leveraging.”
The Jacksons saw a gap in the Lincoln market for quality houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), for working professionals and students. It was a niche that stuck: “We started out with really high standards,” said Dominik. “The houses were equipped with a cleaner every week, high speed internet, bills paid. It was a way for working professionals in the city who perhaps couldn’t afford a one-bedroom flat to have space and comfort with the option to socialise.
“It was going well and we felt quite exposed in the professional market so we decided to diversify in the student market. In doing that we built up a good relationship with the University of Lincoln.”
Cameron Jackson said:
“We spend a lot more time on the design, and we make sure that, internally and externally, they are sympathetic to the areas that they’re in. Where buildings and communities have been around for a hundred years, it’d be irresponsible for developers to come in and give no thought to that.”
Their biggest project to date
A year on from its inception, Jackson & Jackson started work on its second and most ambitious project (the first being a unique church redevelopment). The £28 million Gateway development on Tritton Road in Lincoln, with 519 high-end bed spaces and ground floor retail space, was approved as part of the University of Lincoln’s masterplan for expansion.
“Internally, The Gateway will be on par with what you see in central London right now. Not two years ago but this year”, said Dominik. “Value for money wise, it’s beyond compare from anything else because it’s the most up to date and the most contemporary address to live in in Lincoln.
“All our projects are generally within 10 miles of Lincoln. We have planning permission for a student site on Water Lane which is going to be really high spec with just 15 rooms and a shop underneath. We’re looking to start that in January.
“We are going for planning permission for a very similar style building on Tentercroft Street, so we’ve got a number of student schemes bubbling away as well as house residential schemes.
“It’s a really difficult job trying to make everybody happy when it comes to development, so we spend a lot of time working with local parishes, communities, village halls, organisations and neighbours.”
Cameron added: “There’s nothing worse than when someone sneaks a scheme through and everybody has resentment towards it for decades afterwards. We don’t want to be known for that kind of product and we want to be active in Lincoln for decades to come.”
This feature interview was first published in issue 1 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine.