New £500m Inverness development set to begin in weeks

Hazledene GroupThe Scottish Government and Highland Council have given approval for a £500 million development by Hazledene Inverness which will feature 1,500 homes, surrounding a new town centre with retail, leisure and community facilities.

Minister for local government & housing, Kevin Stewart MSP, visited the site at Stratton today with Brian Clarke of the Hazledene Group and Councillor Helen Carmichael, Provost of Inverness and Area, to announce that the first construction work will begin this August.

The new community at Stratton will be located on the outskirts of Inverness, on land adjoining Inverness Retail Park and will be closely linked to existing communities at Culloden, Smithton and Balloch.

Work on the major infrastructure associated with the project will begin at the end of August and is in part being financed by an infrastructure loan provided by the Scottish Government.

Hazledene Inverness, the developer behind the proposal, has agreed to make a major investment to deliver this significant project and is delighted to confirm that 400 homes will be delivered by Barratt Homes. In addition, Hazledene Inverness has completed the sale to Highland Council of land sufficient for an additional 150 homes.

The Stratton site will create up to 1,000 permanent jobs in addition to 1,200 temporary construction jobs.

In the first phase 550 homes will be built, all retaining the key characteristics of architecture in the region. At least a quarter of these are designed to help meet Highland Council’s affordable housing targets.

Brian Clarke of the Hazledene Group said: “This is a strategically important site for the city of Inverness, reflecting the buoyancy of the Inverness economy and in keeping with Highland Council’s development objectives. It complements many of the wider initiatives contained in the City Region Deal and we are pleased to have the support of Scottish Government by way of the Infrastructure Loan facility. We have worked with Highland Council over the past five years to align our proposals with their goals and we are delighted that we have reached an agreement to move forward to delivery.”

Sustainable development is a key feature of Stratton, with attention given to habitat diversity, green spaces, woodland areas bordering the development and the creation of a network of cycle paths and footpaths.

A £10m fund has been announced today by the Scottish Government, aligned to the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal. The region will benefit from a £135m Scottish Government investment into its infrastructure, following the award of a City-Region Deal in March 2016.

Kevin Stewart MSP said: “Increasing the supply of affordable homes across Scotland is our key aim and today we have made a significant commitment to supporting the delivery of new housing in The Highland Council area.

“The jointly supported £10m Highland Infrastructure Fund means the council can plan for new affordable homes now and will provide all housing developments, including small or rural schemes with an equal opportunity to apply.

“Today’s announcement will provide the certainty that The Highland Council and the housing sector need to deliver their housing priorities in the area. It also reflects the strong partnership between the council and the Scottish Government to better meet our joint objectives on housing.”

Councillor Helen Carmichael added: “Availability of affordable housing is fundamentally important to the sustainability of communities in the Highlands. The Highland Council is committed, with our partners, through the City-Region Deal, to provide quality affordable homes which will help to retain a young and vibrant workforce and give our young people the best possible opportunities.”

The first construction work at Stratton is scheduled to begin in August 2017.

Barratt Developments promotes Jessica White to CFO

Barratt DevelopmentsBarratt Developments has announced the appointment of Jessica White as its new chief financial officer with immediate effect.

Ms White steps up from group financial controller to join the main board of Barratt as an executive director and CFO, replacing Neil Cooper who left in January after just 18 months in the job.

Jessica White’s experience in the house-building industry dates back to 2005 when she joined Wilson Bowden as a corporate accountant in 2005. She had qualified as a chartered accountant with PwC in 2003. Following the acquisition of Wilson Bowden by Barratt in 2007, she was made head of financial accounting at Barratt, and in 2010 was promoted to group financial controller

“Jessica has more than a decade of experience in the housebuilding industry, and has been integral to Barratt’s financial and operational progress,” said chairman John Allan.

“We are delighted to appoint her as chief financial officer and believe she has the skills, experience and track record to help drive the future success of the company.”

Jessica White said she was also “delighted” to be appointed to the role.

“In my 12 years at the company, I have seen first-hand Barratt’s commitment both to the quality of its product and to its people.

“I look forward to working closely with David, Steven and the wider management team to reinforce Barratt’s position as the country’s leading housebuilder whilst driving further value creation through tangible initiatives such as operating margin improvement.”

Barratt Scotland site managers secure ten Pride in the Job awards

Douglas McLeod

Douglas McLeod

Ten site managers at Barratt Scotland developments carried home awards from Friday’s National House Building Council’s (NHBC) Pride in the Job Quality Awards.

Four site managers from both the East and West of Scotland divisions, and two from the North of Scotland, received the prestigious awards in recognition of their commitment to building homes of outstanding quality.

Across the UK, Barratt and David Wilson Homes received a total of 74 awards which is more than any other housebuilder – a title that Barratt Homes has held for 13 years.

This year’s Pride in the Job winners for Barratt Scotland include:

  • Peter Lawrie, The Elms
  • Gareth Lewis, Bridge View
  • Ewan MacLean, Dalmeny Park
  • Alex Sinnet, Newcraighall Village
  • David Oliver, Mill Brae
  • Allan Barclay, Westburn Gardens
  • Tom Hill, Newton Farm
  • Matt McLaughlin, The Botanics
  • Murray Grierson, Lauder Gardens
  • Alan Grant, Highland Gate

Douglas McLeod, regional managing director for Barratt Scotland, said: “We take enormous pride in the quality of homes we build and it is fantastic to see our hard-working site managers and their teams recognised among the best in the country.

“To be recognised for our commitment to outstanding quality across 10 developments in Scotland is a fantastic achievement, and testament to the commitment and dedication of our teams.”

Barratt Developments appeals for more sub-contractors in Fife

K_Balmoral_001 FinalSub-contractors in Fife are being sought to help build homes for the UK’s largest house builder as Barratt Developments looks to add to its current supplier roster.

The housebuilder is calling on sub-contractors from across Fife to come forward as the business looks to expand its workforce to meet its ambitious growth plans for 2017.

As the owner of housebuilder brands Barratt and David Wilson Homes, Barratt Developments plc is looking to ensure that it has skilled labour in place at a time when demand for new homes is on the rise.

Lee Ogg, commercial director of Barratt Homes East Scotland, said: “With a host of new developments set to launch this year, we are looking to supplement our existing sub-contractor base in Fife. From sole traders right the way through to larger firms, we are keen to hear from those who can provide trade services for the domestic building sector.

“Those who think they fit the bill could have worked with us before or be new to Barratt Developments. Alternatively they could currently be working in the commercial sector and are looking to move over to house building. The trades we’re looking for include electricians, plumbers, painter and decorators, joiners, roofers, scaffolders, bricklayers and mastic sealant contractors.”

The developer is also keen to help ambitious trades people looking to start their own businesses.

Lee added: “Sub-contractors are so important to our business and at Barratt Developments we are looking for genuine partnerships, offering regular work and mentoring. We ask anyone interested to get in touch.”

To register their interest, sub-contractors are asked to contact

Barratt Homes crowned Home Builder of the Year

Tim Vine announced the winners of the 2017 Homes for Scotland Annual Awards at the organisation’s Annual Lunch in Edinburgh, with Barratt Homes scooping Home Builder of the Year

Tim Vine announced the winners of the 2017 Homes for Scotland Annual Awards at the organisation’s Annual Lunch in Edinburgh, with Barratt Homes scooping Home Builder of the Year

Barratt Homes has been crowned Homes for Scotland’s Home Builder of the Year at the trade body’s largest ever ceremony, which was held in Edinburgh last week in front of an 1100-strong crowd of senior industry leaders and guests.

The awards, which were presented by comedian and actor Tim Vine, recognise the achievements of those involved in delivering the wide range of quality homes Scotland desperately needs, with judging criteria significantly strengthened over the last couple of years to ensure that they remain the most robust and credible within the industry.

Barratt scooped the top honour as the result of its strong showing in three categories, customer focus and commitment to Scotland.  Judges were also impressed with the pride and passion demonstrated by senior management during a comprehensive interview.

Kareen Davidson, chair of the independent judging panel for a second consecutive year and former sales & marketing director at Bett Homes, said: “With the rigorous judging process which is in place ensuring that Homes for Scotland awards are very much worth winning, I have been delighted to see the quality of entries increase year-on-year.

“All of the finalists were strong contenders in their own right and all are therefore extremely worthy of recognition. This was reinforced by the judging process involving site inspections in the development categories, the introduction of interviews in the Supporting Organisation category and the need to demonstrate how the needs of a modern day family are met in the Home of the Year category.

“Judging the awards has been a tough but rewarding job and we congratulate everyone who entered for their commitment and showcasing their achievements in helping to ensure we are building enough homes for Scotland.”

Douglas McLeod, regional managing director for Barratt Scotland, added: “Design, quality and service are at the heart of what we are trying to achieve. We take an enormous amount of pride in the consistently high levels of quality and service that we deliver for our customers across Scotland.

“It’s a great achievement for Barratt Homes and its developments to be recognised as leaders in terms of the quality of what we do. We are passionate about the homes we build so it’s fantastic to be acknowledged by the Homes for Scotland panel in this way. In the end it’s not just about individual homes that we build it’s about the places we create.”

School_Road_Broxburn-47Elsewhere, the redevelopment of the former Broxburn Primary School in West Lothian was named Affordable Housing Development of the Year.

Constructed by partnership housing developer Lovell on behalf of West Lothian Council on the former Broxburn Primary School site, the new purpose built residential flats are designed specifically for older people and to enable them to live as independently as possible.

Creating minimal impact on the surrounding area, Broxburn – Housing for Older People utilised many of the original 1890’s sandstone buildings’ features. Two new buildings were also constructed to create 18 one and two bedroom flats arranged around a shared courtyard and garden area.

School_Road_Broxburn-41Demonstrating Lovell’s strong commitment to investing in the local area, 80% of subcontractors working on the project came from within 40km of the project site. Running alongside the development programme, Lovell also made particular efforts to establish an educational schools and colleges programme. This included a Health and Safety team visit to the new Broxburn Primary School, giving pupils an opportunity to learn about good health and safety practice and the dangers of building sites.

On winning the Affordable Housing Development of the Year category, Sarah Freel from Lovell, said: “Everyone at Lovell is thrilled that our new development on Broxburn’s West Main Street has been named Affordable Housing Development of the Year at this year’s coveted Homes for Scotland awards.

“Lovell have been building affordable partnership homes for over 45 years, even selling the UK’s first ever affordable partnership development back in 1972. We are committed to working with a range of local partners to deliver housing that is carefully tailored to the needs of the local community. It’s really gratifying for such a collaborative project to be recognised through these awards and we are very grateful to everyone involved in bringing the project to life.”

DCIM102GOPROThe Homes for Scotland Awards were established in 2003 to recognise and promote best practice in the industry. Building on the success of 2016’s refreshed and refocused awards, the 2017 programme introduced more stringent judging criteria and site visits, making these awards particularly sought after.

A full list of winners can be accessed here.

Barratt set for bumper year amid record completions

David Thomas

David Thomas

Housebuilder Barratt Developments said it expects full year profit to reach the top end of market expectations as it forecasts its highest rate of completions this year since the financial crisis.

Supported by strong demand for homes, low borrowing costs and government schemes, such as Help to Buy, Barratt sees total completions at 17,350 for the year – the highest level in nine years.

As a result, fiscal year 2017 pre-tax profit is likely to meet the upper end of estimates of £733 million, it said in a trading update today.

Total forward sales, including joint ventures, on 7 May were 12.7% higher on the same time a year ago at a value of £3.2 billion, compared to £2.8bn last year. This equated to 12,822 plots, up from 11,605 plots in 2016.

Since the start of the year to 7 May, the company has launched 46 new developments, including joint ventures.

Barrat’s overall sales rate edged up to 0.8 from 0.78 last year as net private reservations per average week rose to 299 from 282.

The group said it continued to see upward momentum in private average selling prices, helped by house price inflation and changes in its mix.

Chief executive David Thomas said: “This has been another strong period both operationally and financially for the group. We remain firmly committed to delivering industry leading build quality and customer service, recognised by the award of the Home Builder Federation’s maximum five star customer satisfaction rating for the eighth consecutive year.

“Our controlled approach to growth means we are on track to deliver 17,350 completions in the year, the highest number of completions in nine years. This, combined with the strong market backdrop, means we now expect full year profit before tax to be at the top of the range of current analyst estimates.”

Scottish housebuilders achieve 5 star customer satisfaction rating

The Hailes in Haddington by McCarthy & Stone

The Hailes in Haddington by McCarthy & Stone

Stewart Milne Homes, Barratt Developments in Scotland and the Scotland team at McCarthy & Stone are celebrating after achieving 5 star ratings in the new Home Builders Federation (HBF) customer satisfaction survey 2017.

The prestigious independent industry accolade recognises companies who achieve over 90% customer satisfaction ratings customers who purchased a home in the last year.

One of only five large housebuilders (building over 750 units per annum) and the only major housebuilder head-quartered in Scotland to be awarded the status this year, Stewart Milne Homes said its continued commitment to customers, the creation of award winning developments, the design, detail and individuality of homes and aftercare service has led to the achievement.

Glenn Allison, chief executive of Stewart Milne Group, said: “This award recognises the company-wide effort in the planning, construction, marketing and sales of our homes in Scotland and England. But more importantly, it provides an independent assurance on the quality of our homes and the service we provide to home buyers.

“We have worked extremely hard to achieve our five star status and we are proud to have been awarded this accolade, especially as it comes from our customers views. We will continue to deliver quality homes backed up by exceptional customer service.”

The award for Barratt Developments in Scotland, which includes both Barratt and David Wilson Homes, means that Barratt now becomes the only major national housebuilder to be accredited as a 5 star builder for eight years in a row.

Barratt Developments in Scotland said it continually puts customers at the heart of everything it does by building high quality homes with great design that create strong communities. Coupled with the focus on looking after customers after they have moved in, it is this which has helped achieve such high customer recommendation scores.

Douglas McLeod, regional managing director for Barratt Developments in Scotland, said: “We are extremely proud to achieve the 5 star rating for eight years in a row as it means more than 90% of our customers would recommend our homes to a friend. The customer recommendation scores come from building high quality homes and then really looking after our customers once they have moved in.

“Quality is so important to us there are over 400 items that are individually checked before the keys to a Barratt home are handed over to a customer. We try to work harder than anyone else when it comes to looking after our customers, and this comes out in the survey’s results.”

Retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone becomes the only housebuilder of any size or type to achieve the award for twelve years running, which is every year since the awards began.

According to the firm, the award recognises its commitment to delivering excellent customer service across the business, with particular emphasis on the developer’s commitment to guiding home buyers through the purchasing process, including the provision of post-sales support.

Lorraine Paterson, sales and marketing director at McCarthy & Stone in Scotland, said: “We are delighted to receive the HBF Customer Service award for a twelfth consecutive year, and that so many of our homeowners say they would happily recommend us to their friends and family. We would like to thank all of our customers who completed the survey.

“We believe this is testimony to the quality and attention to detail that goes into the service we provide, and all of our developments. This is a fantastic achievement and thanks must also go to our committed teams across the regions who provide excellent service day in day out to deliver attractive, high-quality developments across the UK.”

The HBF star rating scheme awards builders stars for customer satisfaction. The number of stars awarded is based on the homeowner feedback in an independent National New Homes Survey of customer satisfaction, conducted by the National House-Building Council (NHBC). The survey is designed to provide home buyers with information about house builders to help guide their purchasing decisions, and to encourage excellent levels of service across the industry.

The criteria for 5 star ratings are: 91% or more of homeowners must be prepared to recommend their house builder to a friend.

The survey covered the year to the end of September 2016, is entirely independent of any house builder or house builder group and is independently validated by Reading University.

The survey is one of the largest of its type undertaken in the UK. This year over 90,000 surveys were sent out, an increase of 61% on three years ago reflecting the significant increase in the number of homes being built.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: “The Customer Satisfaction and Star Rating Scheme is an accepted, robust and independently assessed measure of customer service. Achieving the highest levels of satisfaction is a huge challenge that requires commitment from everyone in an organisation from top to bottom. To do so whilst increasing output, to help address our acute housing shortage, is especially commendable.”

For a full list of the customer recommendation scores from every participating homebuilder, click here.

Plans lodged for 137 new homes at Ness Castle in Inverness

A previous development phase at Ness Castle

A previous development phase at Ness Castle

Plans have been lodged for the next phase of a housing development in the south-western outskirts of Inverness.

Developer Barratt North Scotland is seeking permission to build 137 family and affordable homes at the Ness Castle site in the city’s Torbreck area.

The scheme will form part of the second phase of a new community at Ness Castle which could feature close to 1,000 homes when completed.

An application lodged with local authority this week covers about 13 acres of the 108-acre site earmarked for development.

Documents submitted with the plans propose a mixture of detached and semi-detached housing in the new neighbourhood.

Douglas McLeod, regional managing director for Barratt Developments in Scotland, said the new project demonstrated the success of the Ness Castle development.

“Our new planning application for Ness Castle represents an update to our original plan for the site,” he told the Press & Journal.

“This new build phase will provide 137 new homes suited to first-time buyers, families and affordable occupation, all built to Barratt Homes’ exacting five star quality standards.

“Our progression into this new area of the site also represents the continued success of Ness Castle as well as its popularity as a top residential location in the Highland capital.”

Highland Council has highlighted the need for a new primary school in the area to accommodate residents, and a site has been reserved for the facility, with the developers expected to contribute to the building costs.

Initial plans for a 984-home estate at Ness Castle were approved by councillors in 2009 but the scheme stalled until the first 276-home phase was launched in 2011/12.

In 2015, Barratt Homes revealed it planned to build 350 homes at the development site, and last summer work began on 51 affordable Albyn Housing Society homes, backed by a Scottish Government grant.

RICS Scotland calls for infrastructure projects to be given budget boost

VA Dundee topping out 6

The V&A Museum in Dundee

An increase in funding for Scotland’s budget announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond can help tackle Scotland’s infrastructure deficit and boost the country’s competitiveness in the global market, according to RICS Scotland.

Delivering his Spring Budget to the House of Commons yesterday, the Chancellor committed an extra £350 million of funding to the Scottish Budget as a result of Barnett consequentials – with the resource budget increasing by £260m in the period to 2020 and the capital budget increasing by £90m to 2021.

Gail Hunter, RICS director in Scotland, said: “The £350m funding boost as a result of Barnett consequentials is welcome, and gives the Scottish Government the means to bring forward vital infrastructure projects and make inroads into its target of 50,000 affordable homes by the end of this parliament.

“RICS has been a vocal supporter of expanding City Region Deals across Scotland, and we welcome the announcement that the Edinburgh city deal is progressing, as well as UK government support for a Stirling City Deal and a Tay Cities Deal, which will affect Perth and Dundee.

“The Scottish Government could direct the additional funding toward key infrastructure projects within these deals, which could return the highest economic and social impact. Furthermore, boosting Scotland’s rural and remote connectivity in terms of transport, broadband and energy can also stimulate the construction sector.

“Tackling Scotland’s infrastructure deficit will boost Scotland’s competitiveness in the global market and attract both foreign and inward investment at time when the UK’s looming Brexit and a potential second independence referendum are causing increased levels of uncertainty for investors.

“The announcement of additional support for the North Sea oil and gas industry will be welcome news to north-east Scotland; an economic area that has been devastated with the recent downturn in energy commodity prices and the forthcoming business rates revaluation.”

Douglas McLeod, regional managing director for Barratt Developments in Scotland, added: “We applaud the measures announced today to support the UK’s economy, particularly on skills. With 350,000 workers having left construction since the financial crisis, there is a real need to bring in more young people into the industry with new skills, so the announcements today are important.

“Equally important is the need to maintain high quality standards in the drive to build more homes. As a five star rated builder this is something we recognise and are focussed upon.”

Barratt profits buoyed by strong house sales in Scotland

David Thomas

David Thomas

A strong sales performance north of the Border has helped cement a healthy six months of trading for Barratt Developments.

The housebuilder has reported a rise in half-year profits after notching up a large number of completions outside London, citing particularly strong regional sales performances in the North, Scotland, North West and West Midlands.

The firm said pre-tax profits rose 8.8% to £321 million in the six months to December 31, despite revenue falling 3.2% to £1.8 billion.

Director David Thomas said: “We have delivered another very strong first-half performance, pre-tax profits were up nearly 9% and completions outside of London at their highest level in nine years.”

Total completions were down 5.8% to 7,180 with a slowing property market in London dragging on performance.

Completions in London came in at 367 versus 842 in the same period last year, although Barratt expects sales in the capital to pick up in the second half of the year.

Mr Thomas said: “With a record forward order book, strong consumer demand and a positive lending backdrop, we remain confident in our outlook for the full year.

“Our confidence in the business going forward is reflected in the improved and extended capital return plan.”

The group said the “fundamentals” of the housing market remain robust, with strong demand supported by good mortgage availability and the Help to Buy scheme.

The firm said: “There remains a long term housing shortage of all tenures that can be addressed through additional supply in the right locations. We are committed to playing a leading role in addressing this issue.”

Barratt currently has a land bank of 77,000 plots and is continuing to explore new ways of alleviating skills shortages.

It said: “On labour, we continue to see some pressure on skilled labour supply with shortages remaining location and trade specific. However, whilst labour costs are still rising, the rate of increase is moderating.

“We are also seeking to increase construction efficiency and reduce demand on labour through the use of alternative build options such as timber frames, large format block and light gauge steel frames.

“We are implementing a number of key initiatives in terms of improving efficiency.

“In addition to building around 1,300 homes during FY17 using timber frames we have completed trials of light gauge steel frames and large format block which give the business additional options with similar benefits as timber frame ensuring we are future proofing our business.

“We continue to trial various offsite technologies and innovative products and we are investing in research into smart technologies.”