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Norfolk-born property developer’s dramatic career change

PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 September 2011

Matthew Newbury with the new homes he has built in Norwich.

Photo: Bill Smith

Matthew Newbury with the new homes he has built in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2011

As a teenager Matthew Newbury had high hopes of working behind the scenes in the theatre.

But the future turned out very differently for the millionaire property developer from Attleborough after a life-changing motorcycle accident when he was 15.

The bike on which he was riding as a pillion passenger was involved in a collision with a Land Rover and the accident saw him lose his left leg above the knee and left him with multiple injuries, spending more than 18 months in an assortment of hospitals and rehabilitation centres.

In 2004 he was awarded £2.1m in compensation for his accident, as well as awards for future accom-modation, which was believed to be the highest compensation payout for a single amputee in the UK.

It was a payout which ultimately changed his life and now the 30-year-old is worth nearly £9m after setting up Newbury Developments.

Fast forward 15 years and Mr Newbury is the founder and boss of his own property development company, overseeing the finishing touches to its first development in Norwich on the former Duke of Connaught pub in Speke Street.

A team of nearly 30 builders and sub-contractors, closely watched by the boss, are working on the project which has seen the pub cleared and replaced with four semi-detached homes worth up to £150,000 each. All four have been sold and a second project at another site in the city is also planned.

Mr Newbury, who set up the company in 2009, currently divides his time between his home in central London and Norfolk, but because of his local roots, he said he was keen to look for small-scale developments in this area.

“These projects have been very successful,” he said. “We are looking at a turnover in the region of £1.6m. I’ve learned from it and I am applying that learning to the next one.

“We are going to keep going in Norwich because I’ve got such a great team here. What’s really important to me is that I am on site and having control. I know every property. I don’t want to build housing estates, because as soon as you do that you can’t control every aspect.”

Before his accident, and having effectively left formal education, he relentlessly pursued his ambition to work in professional theatre and secured his first paid job in London’s West End just before his 18th birthday.

“My professional background is in theatre and I spent my entire childhood working as a volunteer at the Norwich Playhouse,” he added. “I had a real passion for theatre and I moved to the West End 10 years ago to follow that.”

But he admitted that he made some wild decisions following his payout, which culminated in losing his driving licence for speeding in his Ferrari in central London. The shock of the driving led him to reassess his life.

After selling the Ferraris he took time out, living abroad and returning to this country, he decided to invest his money along with some funds earned from other investments and start to run his own home building company.

But his passion for property is not confined to the UK and he plans to open the US arm of Newbury Developments in New York City in the summer of 2013.

“I’ve had a privileged life. I’m living in the West End and I have some cash which I have been able to use on various projects, which have all been pretty successful,” he said.

“I got paid around £3m and it allowed me to live as well as invest.

“It’s very satisfying to be in such a strong financial position and not necessarily have to worry, but I’ve set this up in order to try and do something properly.

“That’s my main goal.”

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