Dont be afraid of being different. Be afraid of being the same as everyone else.

Founded New Year 2021 but with a depth of experience, the Whatifgroup… offers a new mindset of truly creative thinking and delivery for real estate and regeneration, with a particular emphasis on town centres in the North and Midlands supporting the “levelling up“ agenda.

Uniquely fusing public and private sector expertise we offer the “balance“ needed to create the commonality for a collaborative, successful and sustainable future with multi-stakeholder outcomes.
Talk to us about building a better, inclusive future.


Whatifgroup offer consultancy expertise to both the  public and private sectors- having in depth knowledge of both sides we can help the public sector to tap into private sector expertise and efficiencies and private sector to understand public sector funding, restraints, objectives and practices.

We believe the future lies in collaboration and have created a new model of public private partnership called a Town First Innovation Partnership. Our Place First Economics Framework creates Outcomes that suit public, private and third sector Stakeholders.


Whatifgroup is working on various development concepts that aim to provide high value jobs and target the levelling up agenda. Working with both public and private sector partners we aim to assist delivery of local economic strategies.

Asset Solutions

Whatifgroup and their partners are developing a vertically integrated asset solution platform combining advisory services and operating models that will be transformational re-inventing shopping centres.

This platform will promote a truly “ bottom up “ approach to management, heavily engage local stakeholders, promote local procurement and wealth building, in partnership with local authorities.

The integrated platform will deliver multiple cost savings, enhance the sustainable future, allow diverse occupational mix and deliver true community.

Our People

Whatifgroup was founded by Paul Wright and Kevin Parkes (see bios) but we also have a number of Affiliate Partners from both public, private and third sectors, that allow us to offer much more diverse and inclusive outcomes.

Paul is co- founder of What if… and has in excess of 30 years in private practice specialising in retail, leisure and town centre real estate.

He is the author of a Framework called Place First Economics compiled during his last few years as a Director at NewRiver REIT Plc. This Framework is intended to create the commonality of purpose between public and private sector to address town centre regeneration from both a socio-economic and built environment. It is intended to be the form of governance under a new style of public private partnership called Town First Innovation Partnership.

“The sustainability of town centre real estate relies on the health and prosperity of the communities where we invest. It is not possible to create sustainability therefore without putting back in “

Paul was most recently a Director at NewRiver REIT for 7 years and latterly responsible for the Company’s strategic partnerships with local authorities across the portfolio. He is a qualified chartered surveyor with significant experience in retail agency, asset management and development, having started his career with Clive Lewis & Partners in 1988. Paul later became a Partner at Tushingham Moore before joining Smith Young to work on Eddie Healey’s Stadium Group projects in UK and Europe including Meadowhall, Sheffield.

SY Moorhouse Wright was formed in 2000 in conjunction with Smith Young and was then sold to Savills in 2005, where Paul became Director of Retail Development and Asset Management, working from London and Manchester.

Paul is a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Place Management, the British Property Federation’s – Regional Policy Committee, High Street Adaptation Working Group and West Midlands Commercial Property Forum ( in conjunction with West Midlands Combined Authority ) and is currently working on a strategic place development Framework with Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Kevin Parkes

Kevin is a co-founder of What If… and has over 25 years of senior management experience in local government. His education and initial career has been in Town Planning.

Kevin led on Middlesbrough’s outstanding economic renaissance, typified by the town being identified by the Financial Times FDi Index as being one of the top 10 small cities for economic growth in Europe, 2018.

In his 17 years in Middlesbrough, mainly as Executive Director for Place, Kevin took responsibility for an extensive corporate portfolio of services, including: Environment; Transport; Regeneration; Planning; Transport; Public Health; Communities; Community Safety; Licensing; Culture; Leisure; Estates.

Additionally, Kevin has considerable experience at Board level, including Derwentside Homes, Leisureworks; MHomes / Middlesbrough Development Company; Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art; and, Teesside’s Digital City. Kevin also has extensive political experience.

Kevin’s local government experience was notable for some outstanding achievements, including:

  1. Tees Advanced Manufacturing Park- nationally acclaimed business park;
  2. Building Schools for the Future – successfully overseeing £100m+ programme;
  3. 500% increase in housebuilding in Middlesbrough;
  4. development of Centre Square Grade A Office Development and art gallery;
  5. led on major events: BBC Big Weekend /Proms in the Park; Tour de Yorkshire;
  6. delivering clearance of 3000 houses as part of housing market renewal;
  7. establishing major commercial investments using a variety of fiscal models;
  8. delivering a joint Public Health Services for South Tees;
  9. led on MHomes/Middlesbrough Development Company: delivering new homes;
  10. part of team that established the Tees Valley Combined Authority;
  11. instigation and delivery of the Middlesbrough Sports Village;
  12. taking forward Middlehaven – largest development scheme in the North East;
  13. part of Gold Command responding to Covid and subsequent recovery strategy.

Kevin has been regularly published, including articles for the National Housing Federation / Smith Institute and has been a regular speaker at national and local conferences. He has provided academic contributions to a number of universities.

Our Affiliates

Mike Riddell

Mike is a Chartered Surveyor who spent 30 years in the retail property industry, mainly developing shopping centres but also as a retail agent. 

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Dominic Lusardi

Dominic is an entrepreneur and thought leader on the application of digital and immersive technology who has been working in the digital sector for 25+years.

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Sara Wilcock

Sara Wilcock, an experienced business creator, owner and project manager specialises in bringing ideas to life. 

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Geraldine Kay

Geraldine has a successful and established track record in the social housing sector working with local authorities and housing associations.

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Professor Edward Kunonga

Edward is currently a public health consultant in the NHS where he holds a number of regional roles including leading on the health inequalities agenda.

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Sydney Thornbury

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Our News and Blogs

G B Bank


Community & The Circular Economy

Community and commercialism: How reimagining our shopping centres will act as a catalyst for impact in our towns and cities

We do real estate differently