The scale and consistency of Barratt’s national operation edged it up into the top spot. The award was sponsored by English Partnerships
Barratt’s recent success owes a lot to its ability to spot likely plots and then to secure planning consent for them. During the past year it has won consent for more than 16,000 plots – more than any other housebuilder – which has brought the firm’s landbank up to 59,000 plots, of which only about 12,000 do not have consent. The judges commented that the scale and consistency of Barratt’s operation was “formidable”. “It just keeps on bringing forward land and turning it round – and it is doing that nationally. It has also recognised the importance of design, which is crucial to securing planning consents.” Equally important, however, is the firm’s track record of working in harmony with outside agencies, such as councils, CABE, English Partnerships, housing associations and local communities. The policy of employing people with local knowledge, and an understanding of local sensitivities undoubtedly helps here. And when it comes to the actual building, Barratt can bring more than 25 years of experience to bear. All in all, a worthy winner.
Of course, Berkeley was always going to be a close contender for this prize. For one thing, its business is now tightly focused on brownfield regeneration: 95% of its output falls into this category. It has also understood the role that sustainability can play in competitive tenders. As Berkeley deals with larger “institutional” landowners and planning authorities with their own development agendas, a demonstrable commitment to sustainability can be crucial to winning work. That commitment is perhaps best illustrated by Berkeley’s decision last year to ask BRE to undertake a detailed independent analysis of its sustainability procedures. The judges liked Berkeley’s environmental standards, and they also liked its “integrated approach to planning and development, and the way it has incorporated the SEEDA checklist into its business”.
Keepmoat specialises in community regeneration, meaning in many cases former council estates dogged by low wages, unemployment and the problems that go with them. This means that Keepmoat has to undertake an altogether more complex task than refurbishment. It has to devise ways of engaging with residents, the local authority and registered social landlords, of using the work to provide training and sustainable jobs and, of course, it has to finish with something that looks good and functions effectively. Keepmoat’s skill at fulfilling this task is shown by its work on the £8m Pelton regeneration scheme, in County Durham. This has produced 81 high-quality new homes, including 51 for sale to first-time buyers and 30 for rent, much improved public spaces and public morale. In other words, the kind of perfomance that makes regeneration work.
The Building Communties awards 2005
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Best planning and land regeneration strategy: Winner Barratt developments