RESIDENTIAL and commercial property developers Artisan (UK), one of Huntingdonshire's few plcs, looks set to set up a third dimension to take advantage of an upturn in the commercial investment property market. Huntingdon-based Artisan's subsidiary Rippon Homes recently boosted its East Midlands operation with the acquisition of new development land. Its commercial property arm traditionally builds office accommodation, selling it to customers or leasing it. In the past it has sold on the freehold where customers have preferred to lease. Now, however, the board is examining the possibility of using its in-house skills to establish a property investment arm within the business, to purchase and hold commercial investment properties both from its current development property portfolio and outside. Chief executive Chris Musselle told The Hunts Post that, if the move went ahead, the first properties in the new arm's portfolio were likely to be leases it was currently negotiating on office complexes it expected to complete at around the turn of next year. "We could easily sell these buildings when they are let, so we are tackling this new venture from a position of strength. Our experience from the past couple of years is that, if the occupier takes a lease, we could expect a better return if we did not sell. "We shall also be looking at other acquisitions where leases may expire shortly and there are potential development opportunities. Investment activities will be properly and separately financed and will provide additional revenue streams." Mr Musselle said that, with the balance between residential and commercial developments already providing stability to the group's profitability, the new venture would bring additional stability.