Westbuild has excellent knowledge of local housing markets, and the varying requirements of the different Local Planning Authorities. Combining this with experience, patience, tenacity and good communication, they have a proven track record of achieving planning permissions, in often very demanding and technically complicated locations.
In the last 20 years, the company has gradually evolved and widened its design criteria to architects. Whilst the “Shire Cottage” is arguably the company’s flagship house design, only a small handful of its well-known “Hampshire”, “Wiltshire” or “Berkshire” house types have been built in recent years. Whilst the company now has over 45 house types, it now purposefully designs its developments and houses to make the most efficient use of the land in order to build in a sustainable manner. Notwithstanding this, certain characteristics are often incorporated into many of our designs including brick plinth, steep sloping roofs, chimneys, arched windows, and traditional detailing. In sensitive locations, we are often required to adapt or modify such design principles, but the over-riding concerns are balancing the needs of the future homeowners; the “kerb-appeal” of the development, and the impact on the existing community.
In the 1960-70s the company built large housing estates, but since the mid 1980s has focussed delivery on smaller exclusive sites; in the last 30 years it has built nearly 800 units on over 85 sites, most of which are semi and detached houses. To achieve such consistency, the company requires a constant flow of sites and so is always looking for new opportunities. The following are examples of the general background to, or characteristics of, the developments it has built recently:
- Demolition of farm buildings and replacement with housing in village Conservation area.
- Local authority land sale, with large overage payment to achieve “Best Value”.
Delivery of small scale development by working closely with local community and parish council in workshops.
- Re-development of builder’s yard into river side executive housing development.
Decontamination of brownfield site and replacement with housing.
- Change of Use of Public House, and development of dwellings in original pub garden.
- Rapid unconditional purchase of large detached house, without planning permission, for consideration of 10% in excess of existing use value (where landowner was unable to wait for long term planning solution).
- Parcelling together of 10 rear gardens of existing housing and replacement with 18 houses.
- Parcelling together of 7 landowners and “sight-line” owners, to facilitate 11 house scheme.
- Development of a site during a 10 year period, in three, 2 year phases.
- Development of brownfield site in rural location.
- Complex hill-side development with extensive abnormal construction works.
- Unconditional purchase of two 1960s built houses without planning permission, and replacement with 8 detached houses in Conservation Area.
- Redevelopment of commercial unit and adjacent land into housing scheme.
- Small scale (>14 units) apartment schemes in low density areas.
- Construction and upgrading of 350m of unmade road through S278 Highways Act in order to facilitate housing scheme.
- Unconditional purchase and investment in property with long term (3-7 year +) potential.
- Enhancement of planning permission achieved by competitor builder.
- Demolition of former Nursing Home and replacement with housing.
- Site acquired and developed when previous competitor house builder was unable to gain planning permission.
- Riverside development of three large detached houses.
- Demolition of former garage, remediation of land, and development of small site in low density character area.
Whilst the majority of undeveloped sites are within existing and built-up areas, or “infills”, the pressure to find new and deliverable sites has to necessarily scope to areas beyond. Therefore, the company has interests in an increasing number of long term strategic “out of settlement” or greenfield sites which it is promoting via local authorities’ LDF systems. Joint ventures with other developers (or landowners) and more flexible purchase agreements, can be more applicable in such circumstances.
Regardless of the nature and size of the site, the company is particularly keen to work on projects which are complicated and require a great deal of attention to detail and persistence. Certain developers can be inexperienced in tackling sites and focus their energies on merely gaining a planning permission, but not allowing for the constructional and development deliverability factors, which have technical difficulties requiring in-depth construction expertise to solve; our experience allows us to assess potential difficulties at an early stage, which invariably translates to a very high success ratio of sites secured under option or contract, which then go onto being built by the company.
Many of the company’s sites have been sourced directly, however, it is indebted to the introductions it receives from its wide network of estate agents, land agents, Chartered Surveyors and “land traders/ promoters”. Where an estate agent has introduced the opportunity, and has a residential sales department, the company will guarantee to provide continuity through to the house sales.
The company believes it is able to offer higher prices for building land because it has confidence it can achieve higher than average prices for the intended new houses, a direct consequence of its brand, arising from superior design and quality product constructed.
As owners of the Company, without external investors, the Directors are able to make prompt unhindered decisions to expedite purchase agreements and to contribute ideas using the expertise and business acumen gained from years of personal experience within the industry since the 1960s.