Cala Group

CALA to invest £30m in Bishopbriggs with new development

A typical CALA street scene

CALA Homes (West) has finalised the provision of significant community benefits for its planned development at Jellyhill in Bishopbriggs, through an agreement with East Dunbartonshire Council.

The homebuilder’s proposals represent a £30 million investment in the long-term future of the region with the creation of 136 new homes, including apartments, as well as contributing to wider community benefits through a Section 75 Agreement with the council.

The agreement will create 34 much-needed affordable homes, contributions towards local education amounting to £502,560, a £130,000 sports pitch contribution, and £41,500 towards A803 route corridor improvement plans.

Further, CALA will undertake an upgrade of the footpath, on the south bank of the Forth & Clyde Canal, and will install a new signalised junction at the Meadowburn/A803 junction.

The results of an independent economic impact study undertaken on behalf of the homebuilder indicate a significant positive impact for the local economy.

The development represents a capital investment of £30m from CALA which will support construction jobs over the duration of the three-year programme – thought to be worth around £2.1m to the regional economy – along with the creation of a further 23 indirect and induced jobs.

Original site layouts have been adjusted to retain even more green space than was initially proposed, bolstered further by more tree planting to enhance on-site biodiversity and boost natural habitat, making the site more ecologically sustainable for future generations.

CALA’s proposals, when complete, will deliver around five acres of usable open space within the site, including play space, swathes of formal and informal green space, and urban drainage features designed to allow local wildlife to thrive.

A network of footpaths and cycleways throughout the development will further increase local leisure provision and connectivity, whilst landscape buffers will be created along the southern boundary, providing privacy for existing residents.

It is hoped that the development – ranging from one-bedroom apartments through to five-bedroom family homes – will encourage families, first-time buyers, downsizers, and young professionals to lay down roots in Bishopbriggs, creating a sustainable community.

Graham McNeil, land director for CALA Homes (West), said: “We are pleased to confirm that detailed planning consent has been granted and we look forward to progressing with the vision for the site which has lain derelict for a number of years.

“Our plans have continued to evolve by taking into account community feedback over a number of months, and we believe that once the proposal begins to take shape on the ground, the site will open up to the existing community, offering enhanced access to the canal and green corridor and providing usable open space for local residents to enjoy.

“CALA believes that the proposed homes will deliver a positive, lasting legacy for the town, with existing local businesses also benefiting over the medium to long-term as new residents settle in to their new homes. The Section 75 agreement also ensures that funds will be allocated to upgrade local facilities, services and amenities.

“We have already experienced significant levels of buyer interest, and we firmly believe that the vision for this unique setting will make it a really attractive, well connected place to live. We hope that the benefits will be felt by new buyers and local residents alike.”

CALA submits plans for 113 more homes at Bridge of Don development

CALA Homes has submitted a planning application to Aberdeen City Council for the second phase of its CALA at Grandhome development in Bridge of Don.

The submission comes less than a year after work began on the housebuilder’s first phase, which comprises 71 semi-detached and terraced homes as well as contemporary apartments. Plans for a second phase have been brought forward due to the success of the development to-date.

The housebuilder has sold 27 homes since the first phase of CALA at Grandhome launched towards the end of 2017, with 16 homebuyers now settled in their new homes.

CALA is now applying for permission to build a further 113 homes including three, four and five-bedroom terraced, semi-detached and detached properties.

Future phases of the overall Grandhome development include community facilities such as a school, parks and green space for recreational uses as well as retail and office space and amenities.

Mike Naysmith, managing director of CALA Homes (North), said: “Following a superb reception from home buyers after the launch of CALA at Grandhome, we’re delighted to submit plans for a second phase earlier than we’d previously planned.

“It is very encouraging to have seen such strong interest in a new development, and a very positive sign for the industry.

“Grandhome is set to be a fantastic neighbourhood and it has been a pleasure to watch the flourishing community begin to take shape. We’re looking forward to growing it further, should the plans be approved.

“The new phase would offer a fantastic mix of homes, perfect for families of all sizes, from first-time buyers and downsizers to growing families.”

CALA appoints new CEO following sixth consecutive year of strong performance

Kevin Whitaker has been appointed as the new chief executive at CALA Group as the housebuilder delivered a sixth consecutive year of strong performance.

Announcing an update on trading for the twelve months to 30 June 2018, the first since full acquisition by Legal & General, CALA said it had maintained the positive momentum generated during the first six months (1 July – 31 December 2017) of its 2018 financial year over the important spring selling season.

In the twelve months to 30 June 2018, private completions rose 23% to 1,620 (2017: 1,322) and private ASP reduced to £463,000 (2017: £497,000) due primarily to site mix and the planned transition away from homes priced above £1 million where trading is generally more difficult. Affordable housing activity also rose substantially in the year, which included a 55% increase in completions to 551 (2017: 355).

Private revenue per site per week during the period, a far more meaningful metric of CALA’s sales performance given the group’s size relative to that of its larger peers, was £277,000; an increase of 2% on the prior year (2017: £271,000). Private sales per active site per week for the financial year were 0.62 (2017: 0.56).

The group continues to have relatively limited direct exposure to Help to Buy with only 16% of private sales completed using the product during the period (2017: 14%). CALA expects that this figure will rise modestly over the coming years, albeit still significantly below the levels experienced by its listed peers, as the group increases the number of homes it builds and expands the breadth of product built on its sites.

As at 30 June 2018 the group had secured 499 forward private reservations – 31% up on last year’s figure – with a GDV of £211m (2017: 382 private units with a GDV of £179m).

Graham Reid, interim chief executive of CALA Group, said: “The past twelve months have been a landmark year for CALA. The continued strength of our performance produced a sixth consecutive year of outstanding delivery, while we were also able to further expand our growth targets based on our consistent track record and investment in the business in recent years.

“The overall market backdrop for CALA has remained broadly supportive and we enter the remainder of the extended financial year in a positive position, with a healthy level of forward private reservations. Looking ahead, we remain confident of continuing our strong growth momentum with the benefit of the backing of Legal & General, one of the most highly-respected, blue-chip investors who shares our long-term vision.”

Following the recent retirement of previous group chief executive Alan Brown in April 2018, the Board has confirmed the promotion of Kevin Whitaker to the role, assuming all CEO responsibilities as at 1 August 2018.

Kevin, currently one of two regional chairs, has worked for CALA since 1999, having previously been managing director of CALA Homes East and land director with CALA Homes Scotland before that.

Kevin Whitaker, group chief executive of CALA Group, said: “I am extremely proud that Legal & General has appointed me as CALA’s chief executive. Having spent 19 years with the company, I know about the quality of our people, culture, strategy and the homes we build, and I am very excited to get started as we continue to grow the business and deliver on our strategy.

“Legal & General’s investment in the remaining part of CALA is the start of an exciting new chapter for the group and our strong track record of delivery, combined with our growth strategy, means that we are well placed to build on the excellent momentum we have generated in recent years.”

Legal & General Group acquired the 52.1% of CALA Group which it did not previously own in March 2018.

The transaction valued CALA at £605m and followed the group’s strong delivery in 2017, which saw the business achieve revenues of £747.9m alongside an operating profit of £92.8m.

Kerrigan Procter, chief executive officer of Legal & General Capital, said: “We are delighted to appoint Kevin as CALA’s chief executive as we look to continue to build on the Group’s strong growth momentum. Having been a key member of the management team over the past eleven years, he knows the business inside out and shares our long-term vision, which will be invaluable to continuing to develop and grow CALA.

“I would also like to place on record Legal & General’s thanks to CALA’s finance director, Graham Reid for stepping into the interim chief executive role and overseeing the continuation of CALA’s strong trading performance.”

CALA reduces height of former Boroughmuir High School restoration

Fresh proposals to breathe new life into one of Edinburgh’s most distinctive old school buildings have been submitted for approval.

Plans for the sympathetic restoration of the former Boroughmuir High School had been revisited prior to a community event as developer CALA Homes took on board a range of comments from the previous application last year.

The new designs have seen the new-build block of affordable homes be reduced by a level, along with a reduction in the scale and mass of the proposed building. Further amendments include the alignment with the height and windows of the neighbouring tenement.

To reflect surrounding architecture, the new designs have been paired with a change to chosen building materials, with the use of natural atone and slate resulting in a subtle building that preserves the character of the conservation area.

The carefully considered refurbishment of the Main School building remains relatively unchanged after it was widely praised by planners for its community focussed approach encapsulated within the designs for the central courtyard.

Following a positive turnout of more than 140 neighbouring residents at a recent event at Morningside’s Eric Liddell Centre to learn more about the new proposals, constructive feedback has enabled the developer to take on board further changes.

These include the addition of visitor bike storage areas, bike cleaning facilities, additional tree retention and also a commitment to provide every resident within the development an annual bus pass to promote the use of public transport in the well-connected area.

95% of the development will have allocated parking spaces onsite which will not allow them to access a parking permit on-street. 14 additional spaces will be created on Viewforth which will be able to be used for City Car Club, additional Permit Spaces and Pay & Display to ensure a net benefit to the wider area.

Gavin Pope, land director with CALA Homes (East), said: “It was especially important to us that we go back to the community following the changes to our previous plans. To that end we thank those that attended the event for their time and comments.

“Comments throughout the day were very useful and we’ve been able to take on board a range of suggestions before we submitted the final application.

“It goes to show the importance of these events in creating a development that works for the surrounding area while delivering much needed homes.

“While we appreciate that no development will be universally popular, what was especially pleasing was that many local residents were positive about the changes to the new build aspect – and actively wanting to see the vacant school building returned to life.”

Within the heart of the school building will remain an open courtyard with a series of walkways, along with the stunning conversion of classrooms into 87 split-level mezzanine apartments.

Pupils from the school in Viewforth moved into the £35m purpose-built new campus earlier in the year and City of Edinburgh Council has again agreed terms to sell the Category-B Listed building to CALA Homes, which has its national headquarters in the city.

The proposals will be considered at a planning committee meeting later this year and if approved, work could commence on site by early 2019.

Barclays helps CALA bring iconic Donaldson’s School back to life

The Crescent at Donaldson’s School

CALA Homes and Evans Property Group have secured a £21 million joint funding package from Barclays to support the development of 84 residential apartments located in the grounds of the Playfair designed Donaldson’s School in Edinburgh.

After years of planning, the funding will assist in delivering phase one of the striking development of high-end homes, known as the Crescent, in the grounds of the original 19th Century building.

The development has started marketing the first release of properties which has already generated a substantial amount of interest from both local and over-seas markets.

The building of Donaldson’s started in 1842, after its benefactor, a local newspaper publisher James Donaldson, bequeathed his estate to found a hospital for children after his death. It was designed by renowned architect William Henry Playfair, whose other landmark buildings in Edinburgh include the Scottish National Gallery on The Mound and Edinburgh University’s Old College. The building came on to the market after the Donaldson’s School announced it was to relocate to a new site in Linlithgow in 2008.

Neil Stoddart, interim group finance director of CALA Homes, said: “We are delighted to partner with Barclays in the development of this historic site in the heart of Edinburgh’s West End. The Crescent at Donaldson’s combines ambitious architectural style with innovative contemporary design to create a selection of exquisite apartments set within a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

Nick Mayberry, head of real estate for Northern & Scotland region at Barclays, added: “Edinburgh’s residential property market is currently experiencing exceptionally high demand, and this deal demonstrates Barclays’ continued commitment to innovative, forward-thinking developers across Scotland.

“We worked hard to understand the specific needs for this project which, coupled with our successful track record in the property sector, meant we could provide a tailored funding package to help build one of Edinburgh’s newest and most exclusive estates located in one of its most famed sites.”

Homebuilder delivers double boost for playground bid

CALA’s Ian Conway with Corpus Christi Primary School pupil Freya Duffy

CALA Homes (West) has earned top marks from Glasgow’s Corpus Christi Primary School after supporting its campaign to install a £90,000 state-of the-art playground.

The homebuilder has sponsored a table at a ball being held by the Knightswood school to raise funds for the campaign. However, instead of enjoying a night out kind-hearted CALA staff have donated the table to the school to enable parents from disadvantaged households to attend.

Corpus Christi Primary’s Black Tie Ball is to be held at the Grand Central Hotel on Saturday 2 June. The school is aiming to build a flagship £90,000 play area that would be the first of its kind in Glasgow. It has already secured two thirds of its funding goal and it hopes that the Black Tie Ball will go a long way to raising the remaining £30,000.

Nicola Farrell, depute headteacher at Corpus Christi Primary School, said: “We are extremely grateful to CALA Homes for its support. Not only has it invested hundreds of pounds buying a table for our ball, it has also provided a means for 10 parents to attend who would otherwise not be able to go.

“A large percentage of our children live in disadvantaged and deprived households, with no access to green space. Outdoor play is essential in bone and muscle development, fitness, improving social interaction and in overall happiness. If we can help our pupils to be happy and healthy, they will be in a better position to learn and thrive.”

Corpus Christi is within the catchment of Jordanhill Campus where CALA Homes (West) is building a premium residential development. The 31-acre site is owned by Strathclyde University and was formerly a teacher training college. More than 40% of the site is to be retained as greenspace and the development will also include outdoor play areas inspired by the natural world.

Liana Canavan, sales and marketing director, CALA Homes (West), said: “There is strong evidence that greenspace can improve health and wellbeing. Providing high quality greenspace is at the heart of our plans for Jordanhill Campus and we’re proud to support Corpus Christi’s proposals to create its own ambitious outdoor space for pupils.”

CALA breaks ground on new homes in Bearsden

CALA Homes (West) has commenced its new housing development at Birnam Crescent in Bearsden.

The development of 20 homes is being constructed on an area of land on Bearsden’s eastern periphery that was previously allocated for housing in the Local Development Plan (LDP).

It follows a positive planning decision from East Dunbartonshire Council in December last year for CALA’s vision of a sustainable development with high quality design principles.

It is expected that the new homes, which include 15 five-bedroom detached properties, will provide much-needed family accommodation in the area.

A further five homes – ranging from two to three-bedrooms – will comprise the affordable element of the site and have been earmarked as mid-market rent properties that will be managed by Link Group.

Graham McNeil, land director for CALA Homes (West), said: “We are delighted to now be progressing our plans for Birnam Crescent.

“We want to create a well-integrated place of distinction and enduring quality that will strengthen this part of Bearsden, so it’s great to begin in earnest in what we believe is an area that’s already well-suited to residential development.

“These homes, which will meet market demand from families, will also enjoy the advantage of fantastic views southward to the open countryside.

“The new open space created in the centre of the development will provide amenity space for new residents and connect the existing and new neighbourhoods by an east to west footpath link. This will provide local access through the site to the existing woodland area to the east.

“Given previous successes in Bearsden and the popularity of our current development at Kilmardinny, we are confident that this mix of high quality homes will attract strong market interest.”

Ross Martin, chair of Link Group Ltd, said: “We are pleased to have been supported by the Scottish Government and East Dunbartonshire Council to enable the provision of these new, high quality homes in Bearsden, further demonstrating the breadth of Link’s area of operation across Scotland’s housing demographic.”

A CALA showhome launch is expected in late autumn.

Housebuilders build partnership with East Renfrewshire charity through £9k pledge

Russell and Yvonne MacMillan of East Renfrewshire Good Causes (centre left and right) celebrate the announcement of their partnership with Maidenhill alongside Audrey Ross, sales and marketing director at Taylor Wimpey West Scotland (far left), and Suzie Farrell, marketing manager at CALA Homes (West)

The team behind the Maidenhill housing development in East Renfrewshire has officially laid the foundations of a new partnership with a local charity.

Homebuilders CALA Homes (West) and Taylor Wimpey West Scotland have pledged a series of donations to East Renfrewshire Good Causes for the duration of the first phase of building works at the new development.

For each of the first 185 homes reserved within the new community, a £50 donation will be made to the charity, which is dedicated to supporting a range of worthy local causes.

This pledges a total of £9,250 which will be used to help people in need across the East Renfrewshire area.

East Renfrewshire Good Causes, which is run by Russell MacMillan of Newton Mearns, has helped thousands of locals since it started its work in 2007.

The charity was originally set up so that Russell could raise the money to ‘repay’ the £70,000 cost of a life-saving double transplant he received in 2007, but has continued beyond to raise and donate more than £356,260 within the local area in addition to products and services which equate to the same value again – helping upwards of 1,800 residents.

Liana Canavan, sales and marketing director for CALA Homes, said: “It means a lot to be able to give back to the local area in which our new community is going to be based, and – together with Taylor Wimpey – we’re delighted to pledge more than £9,000 to help a local cause that we know is close to so many people’s hearts.”

Audrey Ross, sales and marketing director for Taylor Wimpey West Scotland, said: “East Renfrewshire Good Causes reaches out to, and helps, so many people across the local area – and many people are more than aware of the fantastic work Russell does. By donating a guaranteed amount for every home reserved throughout the first phase of the build, it means that those who decide to live within our new community will have given much-needed help to their neighbours, even before moving in.”

Russell MacMillan, founder of East Renfrewshire Good Causes, said: “I’m thrilled to call the team at Maidenhill partners of the charity. The money raised will go towards a number of causes across the region, whether it’s helping the homeless, or local families struggling to make ends meet.

“East Renfrewshire Good Causes is all about providing grass roots support to the local community, and it’s incredible to see CALA Homes and Taylor Wimpey keen to get involved at such a local level.”

Go ahead recommended for CALA Homes development in Cults

A residential development off Craigton Road in Cults by CALA Homes (North) has been recommended for approval from Aberdeen City Council.

The collection of 19 homes will also allow the completion of the new Friarsfield link road, a key piece of infrastructure for the local area set out in the Friarsfield Development Framework, set to greatly enhance connectivity and traffic flow in the popular area.

The proposed mix and style of properties has been carefully designed to be sympathetic to both older and newer homes in the area, complementing CALA’s previous developments in Cults, Hayfield Grange and Rosefield Gardens, and current development, Cults Park.

Careful consideration has also been given to the creation of suitable open space, tree retention and the layout of the site to blend with the surrounding landscape.

The development will see the creation of semi-detached and detached properties including two, three and five-bedroom homes.

Mike Naysmith, managing director of CALA Homes (North), said: “We are very pleased that approval has been recommended for this site, which will see not only the creation of new homes for the area, but the delivery of a vital piece of infrastructure for Cults.

“We have extensive experience of creating homes in the locale, with several historic and current sites in Cults, all of which have been extremely popular. Our current development, Cults Park, is progressing very well and we expect to see similar interest in this new pocket of homes.”

CALA Homes chief executive Alan Brown announces retirement

Alan Brown

Alan Brown has announced his intention to retire as chief executive at CALA Homes after 32 years at the company.

Described by CALA’s Board as “instrumental” in driving the growth of the group, Mr Brown held a number of senior management and strategic roles in his time at the firm.

He trained as a chartered quantity surveyor and joined CALA in 1986 as development manager, progressing through the company before being appointed regional chairman for England in July 2006. Following the financial crisis of 2007/2008, Alan became group managing director before being appointed chief executive in September 2009.

Alan successfully led the group through the wider market downturn and oversaw the sale process from Lloyds Banking Group that secured the backing of L&G and Patron Capital in 2013 before delivering the acquisition and successful integration of Banner Homes in 2014.  More recently, Alan led the acquisition of the group by L&G which was announced on March 13, 2018.

Since becoming chief executive in 2009, CALA has made significant progress under Alan’s leadership and, over the last decade, has been the UK’s fastest growing major home builder, delivering record profits in each of the last five years. CALA achieved 5 stars for customer service for the first time in 2008.

A search for a new chief executive has begun. Alan will remain in his current role until the end of April, when Graham Reid, group finance director, will assume the position of Interim CEO, in order to ensure an orderly handover and transition to his successor.

Kerrigan Procter, chief executive officer of Legal & General Capital, said: “CALA has benefited greatly from Alan’s leadership over the last nine years as Chief Executive and we shall miss him. The group is much stronger and more resilient as a result of his direction and the Board is confident of achieving continued and sustainable profitable growth well into future.

“On behalf of the Board and all of his colleagues, I would like to thank Alan for his outstanding contribution to the development of CALA and wish him every success in whatever he decides to do next.”

Alan Brown said: “This was not an easy decision. I’ve spent nearly my entire career at CALA, working with a talented group of people to build the great business that it is today.

“When I took over as CEO, the company had significant challenges and as a team we’ve worked extremely hard to overcome those challenges and build a large and very successful business that now enjoys the long-term support of one of the UK’s blue chip companies.

“I have enjoyed working at CALA immensely and I would like to thank all my colleagues for their fantastic support. The Group is in great shape with exciting growth opportunities and now is the right time for me to hand over the reins to a successor to lead CALA into the next stage of its development.

“I will now be taking a short time out from corporate life in order to think about the sorts of roles and activities I wish to pursue in the next stage of my career.”