Over 500 new homes on track at new Midlothian community

(from left) James Palmer, associate director, Shawfair LLP; Joanne Casey, homes director, Mactaggart & Mickel Homes; Fraser Conn, sales director, Bellway; Neil Gaffney, area sales & marketing director, Miller Homes

(from left) James Palmer, associate director, Shawfair LLP; Joanne Casey, homes director, Mactaggart & Mickel Homes; Fraser Conn, sales director, Bellway; Neil Gaffney, area sales & marketing director, Miller Homes

A trio of housebuilders have outlined plans to deliver more than 500 new homes at the Shawfair community in Midlothian.

Bellway and Miller Homes are to build 358 new homes for sale or affordable rent to complement a nearby development of 170 new homes by Mactaggart & Mickel Homes.

Bellway’s contribution of 236 three, four and five-bedroom homes wide range of semi-detached and detached house styles will be located west of Shawfair railway station. The first homes are being marketed now with move in dates from summer 2018.

Miller Homes, meanwhile, is to pre-launch its adjacent site on October 28 from the ESPC showroom in George Street, Edinburgh, providing a further 122 three, four and five-bedroom family homes from May 2018.

Mactaggart & Mickel Homes’ development launched in April this year, with properties ranging from one-bedroom apartments to five-bedroom detached villas and an additional 32 affordable homes. The first residents moved in this summer.

As well as the much-needed homes, Shawfair will have schools, offices and retail outlets plus acres of landscaped outdoor space and cycle paths.  In time, an attractive town centre will create a focal point for the whole community.

LM_New_Homes_Shawfair_Community_011 lo resJames Palmer, associate director of Shawfair LLP, said: “Over 500 new homes signals a major step forward in making our vision for Shawfair a reality. New housing is desperately needed and I am delighted that Shawfair has attracted housebuilders of the highest calibre to help us achieve that vision.

“Properties are already selling well, with lots of interest from people who are attracted by the benefits of country living.  Shawfair is just 15 minutes from Edinburgh by train, and offers fast transport connections further afield. This is hugely positive news for the area, creating scores of jobs across the three sites.”

When complete, Shawfair will be the fourth largest town in Midlothian, roughly the same size as Cupar, Dunblane or Linlithgow.

Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for housing, Councillor Stephen Curran, added: “It’s exciting to see the new town of Shawfair beginning to take shape.  That said, we realise it is a huge undertaking building a new town from scratch. It’s vital therefore, that surrounding communities are onboard every step of the way. We want to make sure local people feel listened to, that they understand what’s happening and how they can share in the benefits this new urban expansion will bring.

“This is an unprecedented development with a total value of £1.2 billion, able to support an estimated 6,500 jobs.

“The 20-year project, which includes 4,000 new homes – 20% or more of which must be affordable – represents the biggest urban expansion in Scotland in modern times. It will potentially pump almost £100m into the local economy each year once completed. That’s not just good news for Shawfair, that’s good news for the surrounding communities, Midlothian and Scotland as a whole.”

Bellway confident of further growth as profits top £560m

Bellway Site workersStrong appetite for newly built homes has helped Bellway deliver a forecast-beating set of final results.

The FTSE 250-listed housebuilder achieved an 11% rise in completions to deliver a record 9,644 homes this year.

This lifted revenue 14% in the year-end to July to £2.56 billion, building a pre-tax profit of £571 million from £498m previously.

Operating margin rose to a record 22.3% with the house builder forecasting further growth next year.

Based on forward orders, Bellway said it was confident it could grow volumes 5% next year, taking the firm through the 10,000 homes ceiling.

It will also open a 20th trading division in the north of England in coming months building on fledgling division openings in Coventry and County Durham last year.

Executive chairman John Watson, who has temporarily taken the position while Ted Ayres is on sick leave, said: “The group has increased its contribution to the supply of much needed new homes while upholding high standards in both customer care and health and safety.

“Bellway has invested significantly in land, maintaining its rigorous and disciplined investment criteria and with a strong balance sheet and focus on operational delivery, I am confident that the group is well positioned to deliver further growth, this year and beyond.”

Jason Honeyman, who joined the board as chief operating officer last month, added: “Whilst there is some reliance upon overseas labour, predominantly in the southeast and London, there is no evidence that this valuable resource has diminished as negotiations to leave the EU progress.”

The total number of new homes sold was 9,644 (2016: £8,721), of which 7,567 were private sales and 2,077 were social housing (2016: 7,325 and 1,376 respectively).

The board expects a further 5% increase in average selling price to £280,000 this year and it also expects to grow volume by at least 5%.

Over the past year, the northern divisions increased output by 11.2% to 4,655 homes (2016: 4,187 homes). Output in the south grew by 10% to 4,989 homes (2016: 4,534 homes).

Medical leave of absence prompts reshuffle at Bellway

Ted Ayres

Ted Ayres

Bellway has announced that Ted Ayres is to take a leave of absence from his role as chief executive for treatment for a medical condition.

John Watson, who served as group chief executive at before becoming chairman in 2013, will step in as executive chairman during the period of absence.

The housebuilder also announced that Jason Honeyman will be appointed to the Board as chief operating officer on September 1. Jason commenced employment with the company in January 2005 as managing director of the Thames Gateway Division, becoming southern regional chairman in December 2011.

John Watson said: “Jason is a highly respected senior operator in the industry and has considerable housebuilding experience having overseen the successful management of our Southern Divisions since 2011. His appointment to this new group role strengthens the operating structure and will support the delivery of the Company’s disciplined growth strategy.”

The Board and management team said they wished Ted a swift and full recovery and look forward to his return.

Bellway says independence would not change Scottish growth strategy

Keith Adey

Keith Adey

Scottish independence would not impact Bellway’s growth strategy north of the Border, the housebuilder has said as it revealed healthy growth in turnover and profits.

Speaking as the company released its half-year results, group finance director Keith Adey said there were strong, positive market conditions ahead of the prospect of a second referendum.

“If you do end up with a scenario where Scotland becomes a different country to the UK, to separate that, it’s so embedded I can’t see how it becomes structurally a different country to invest in, in the way it’s different to invest in France,” he said. “The barriers to entry can’t be that great.”

Mr Adey said the 2014 independence referendum didn’t particularly affect the company, but that uncertainty was never welcome.

“Of course it has a degree of uncertainty for people but we’re still investing in Scotland and Scotland is doing very well for us. Demand is strong, we’re buying land and reservations are coming through well. We’ve got a good business so I don’t see how the referendum will change that.”

For the six months to January 31 Bellway made a pre-tax profit of £247.6m on £1,148.5m revenue. The profit figure was up 9% (2016: £226.6m) and revenue was up 6% (2016: £1,084.9m).

The operating margin improved from 21.4% to 22.0%.

The business completed 390 homes in Scotland over the period, more completions than any other part of the UK, at an average selling price of £198,000.

This is the eighth successive year of revenue growth for Bellway, over which period, revenue has increased by more than 250%.

Chairman John Watson said: “Bellway is achieving this growth whilst retaining a focus on return on capital employed and maintaining an appropriate and conservative use of bank debt and land creditors. Our strong balance sheet and operational capacity still provides scope for further controlled expansion, enabling Bellway to achieve additional, future volume and earnings growth, by continuing to invest in attractive land opportunities across the country.”

Deals agreed to bring over 350 homes to Edinburgh and Midlothian

Shawfair signDeals have been agreed to build hundreds of much-needed new homes in Midlothian and the south east of Edinburgh.

Shawfair LLP has confirmed that housebuilders Bellway Homes and Miller Homes, with the support of Midlothian Council, will deliver a mixture of up to 358 new homes for sale and affordable rent over the next five years at its Danderhall South site in Shawfair after completing missives.

With construction due to start on site in spring 2017 subject to detail planning approval, the news of major housebuilders investing in Shawfair marks a significant milestone in what is currently the largest urban expansion project in Midlothian and south east Edinburgh.

Nick Waugh, director of Shawfair LLP, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that two of the UK’s most high profile housebuilders have agreed to build quality new homes as part of the first phase of development at Shawfair LLP’s Danderhall South site.

“This announcement comes at a time of great need for a quality mix of housing in the area and represents a key moment in the lifespan of the project so far as we look to realise our vision of creating a community and desirable place to live at Shawfair in the future. This is positive news for the area and will help to unlock further investment and create jobs in the construction sector and supply chain.”

Bellway Homes will deliver 236 new homes directly to the north of Shawfair Park, including a mixture of two, three, four, and five bedroom housing for sale and affordable rent.

Miller Homes will build a further 122 new homes of two, three, four and five bedrooms for sale and affordable rent at the east of Danderhall.

Andy Wyles, managing director of Bellway Homes (Scotland) Ltd, said: “This is undoubtedly one of the most exciting new residential developments in Scotland and we are thrilled to be playing a part in the growth of this vibrant new community, as part of our ongoing expansion in the East of Scotland.

“There is so much to recommend Shawfair to homebuyers – not only is it close to the city centre with its world renowned attractions but it is also just a short drive from the beach at Portobello and beautiful country parks.”

David Morgan, land director for Miller Homes Scotland East, said: “We are delighted to be involved in creating the first phase of a thriving and vibrant new community at Shawfair, which will completely transform the south east side of the city. Miller Homes has an extensive track record in building attractive, sought after developments and we look forward to working with Shawfair LLP to help deliver this ambitious project through the provision of much needed new quality homes at Danderhall South.”

The development of the new community at Shawfair, through a joint venture between Buccleuch Property and Mactaggart and Mickel, will deliver 4,000 homes, new schools, business spaces and public amenities over the next 20 years.

Bellway shrugs off weak pound fears as it posts soaring profits

Ted Ayres

Ted Ayres

Bellway has moved to allay fears that the fall in the value of the pound will affect house prices, though the firm admitted its suppliers may seek price rises as a result.

Chief executive Ted Ayres set out current challenges facing the business as he unveiled the strong set of financial results for the business and exchange rates was not among them.

Posting a better than expected 41 per cent jump in full-year profits to £498 million today, Ayres suggested that while suppliers might raise prices following sterling’s decline, “the overall cost of any adverse currency fluctuations is expected to be minimal when considered as part of the overall cost of constructing a new home”.

In the year to 31st July 2016, Bellway’s revenue rose 27 per cent to £2,2401m (2015: £1,765m). Pre-tax profit was up nearly 41 per cent to £497.9m (2015: £354.2m).

The number of homes sold during the year reached a record high for the company of 8,721, a 12 per cent increase on the previous year’s 7,752 and the group’s seventh successive year of volume growth. Average selling price was up 12.9 per cent to £252,793 (2015: £223,821).

Operating margin was 22.0 per cent (2015: 20.4 per cent).

Ted Ayres said: “There is still some upward pressure with regards to labour costs, particularly in the southeast, where the availability of certain trades, predominantly ground workers, brick layers and scaffolders is most restricted.  These pressures are, however, manageable in the context of the growth of the group.

“Material cost increases have largely abated and whilst there still remains occasional availability issues, longer lead in times have been factored into build programmes and strong relationships with suppliers are helping to ensure that construction timetables are being met.

“The group does not directly import any materials from overseas and despite the volatility following the outcome of the EU referendum, the overall cost of any adverse currency fluctuations is expected to be minimal when considered as part of the overall cost of constructing a new home.”

Chairman John Watson added: “The long term outlook continues to be positive, supported by strong customer demand, a substantial forward order book and favourable trading conditions across all areas of the country where Bellway operates.  Whilst there is some uncertainty following the result of the EU referendum, trading since that date has remained resilient.  Bellway has invested significantly in high quality land opportunities and infrastructure over recent years.  As a result, with its strong balance sheet and structure of nineteen operating divisions, the group is well placed to deliver additional value for shareholders through further disciplined volume growth in the current financial year.”

Bellway opened a new South Midlands division in Coventry in February 2016 and in August opened a division in County Durham. Bellway now has 19 operating divisions, six of which have been opened in the three years since August 2013.

Bellway increases Scottish landbank by over 55 acres

BellwayHousebuilder Bellway has acquired more than 55 acres of land with a development value of some £120 million as part of its continued expansion across the east of Scotland.

The firm said the sites – at Abbey Lane in Edinburgh city centre, Broxburn and Heartlands in West Lothian and Broxden in Perth – mark a “significant investment” for its regional operation, with further deals in the pipeline.

Bellway said its new developments would also generate “significant community benefits”. In the past three months, the firm has committed to contributing £3.1m towards education and more than £1.3m towards affordable housing contributions and community facilities.

Following the latest land deals, it plans to build 160 homes on its Charlotte’s Gate site located on Glasgow Road, Perth, with a sales launch from its Calais Muir Gate show complex in Dunfermline next month.

At Heartlands, West Lothian, the group is aiming to build a further 137 homes on an 11-acre site following the success of the first phase of 88 homes there. Reservations will begin for the new homes later this month from the existing Heartlands sales centre.

The company is also launching Chandler’s Way, a development of 176 homes, on the former Hall’s factory site in Broxburn in September. The first homes are expected to be ready for occupation next April.

Meanwhile, construction work is due to start early next year on Imperial Heights, a development of 139 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in Abbey Lane in Edinburgh, just a stone’s throw from Holyrood Palace.

Willie McDermott, land director at Bellway, told The Scotsman: “We are delighted to announce these four exciting new developments which will create a total of over 600 much needed new homes in the east of Scotland whilst strengthening Bellway’s presence within the east of Scotland market place.

“These four new developments will also generate significant community benefits.”

Bellway forecasts revenue hike in wake of Brexit

BellwayBellway Homes has said it expects a 27 per cent increase in revenue despite weeks economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

In a trading update for the year to July 31, the housebuilder forecast revenue to reach £2.2 billion from £1.73bn in 2015.

The company built 12.5 per cent more homes in the year to July 2016 than over the previous 12 months, and the average selling price of those houses was 13 per cent higher.

Bellway said: “Customer confidence and trading conditions have remained strong throughout the year, notwithstanding the wider economic uncertainty in the weeks preceding and following the EU referendum, in late June.”

The firm added that an environment of low interest rates and the continued presence of Help to Buy has contributed to its positivity.

“Since the result of the EU referendum, there has been some modest caution from a small number of visitors to our developments at the higher value end of the London market, where Bellway has only limited exposure,” it said.

Bellway said it has built up a “healthy” forward order book comprising 4,644 homes (2015 – 4,568 homes) at a value of £1.11bn (2015 – £1.08bn), adding that the Group is well placed to continue its long term growth strategy, whilst maintaining a focus on return on capital employed.

Ted Ayres, chief executive, said: “The Group has delivered an outstanding trading performance, achieving new records for Bellway in respect of both volume and operating margin.  We have invested in high quality land and have maintained a significant forward order book, thereby ensuring that the Group is well placed to continue its sizeable contribution to meeting the UK’s requirement for new homes in the year ahead.

“It is still too early to assess the effect of the EU referendum result, however trading in recent weeks has been encouraging and Bellway, with its strong balance sheet and robust land bank, can be flexible and respond opportunistically to any changes in market conditions.”

Bellway will announce its preliminary results on October 18.

Brexit uncertainty fails to dampen performance at Bellway

Ted Ayres

Ted Ayres

Housebuilder Bellway has said it is on track for a record year as strong demand for new homes appears unaffected by uncertainty over the EU referendum outcome.

The FTSE 250 company, which built 7,752 properties in the twelve months to July last year,  expects to build at least 10 per cent more homes this financial year despite some signs the British economy has slowed in the run-up to the June 23 vote.

According to The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors this week, buyer demand has plummeted over the past few months. It blamed a combination of referendum uncertainty and a lull after the rush to get into the property market before tax changes in April.

However, Bellway said it was set to increase its average selling price by 10 per cent from last year’s £223,821 in the year to July 31.

Completions are expected to be at least 10 per cent ahead of the 7,752 reported for the 2015 year.

“Notwithstanding the uncertainty surrounding the impending EU referendum, the group has not experienced any noticeable effect on trading, with customer confidence continuing to be strong,” it said.

Ted Ayres, chief executive, added: “The continued positive trading environment, the availability of good quality land opportunities and disciplined investment in an expanding divisional structure… should lead to another record performance.”

Given the positive conditions, Bellway has stepped up its land purchasing, making deals to purchase 8,600 plots since August 1 — a 45 per cent increase on a year earlier. On top of that, it has outline agreements in place to buy another 6,200 plots and is planning to open a new operating division, its 19th, in the north of England.

Plans approved for 139 homes in Edinburgh

Abbey Lane EdinburghThe City of Edinburgh Council has given planning permission for 139 flats to be constructed on brownfield land in the city.

Designed by EMA Architects, the series of four and six storey blocks at Abbey Lane seeks to maximise southerly views toward the Crags and Arthur’s Seat whilst respecting a neighbouring listed building.

A landscape buffer will be included to the south to mitigate the impact of an adjoining railway line, including a mixture of hedges, railings, walls and footpaths.

Bellway Homes hopes to begin construction later this year.