McCarthy & Stone
This firm's determination to pursue a niche market – and success in doing so – earned it first place. McCarthy & Stone's rapidly increasing output of sheltered housing has made it the leader in its field, bumping its share price up 12% in the process. And the firm has embraced government requirements for high-density urban regeneration, delivering an average of 133 units a hectare. All McCarthy & Stone's developments are on brownfield land, and it is committed to finding ways to give problematic wasteland new life. This approach was used to great effect on a retirement development in Exeter, built on a town-centre site too narrow to allow parking provision. The scheme has confounded car-friendly planners by being one of the firm's fastest-ever selling sites – proving location is all.
The judges felt Countryside deserved recognition, partly for its 58.5% increase in turnover, but mainly for its innovative work on the Greenwich Millennium Village – particularly with respect to regeneration and environmental issues. And there is further evidence of the firm's social and environmental conscience in its collaboration with English Nature and the Environment Trust to protect natural habitats, and its development of a "Quality of Life" audit, designed to measure the social impact of the communities it creates.
Laing Homes is continuing to thrive. In 2001, it won planning permission for four large-scale developments on brownfield land, on which it builds 90% of its schemes. But what really made it stand out was its devotion to training. It invests 4% of its turnover – £569m in 2000/1 – in training and its schools project brings excluded children to Laing training centres to gain construction qualifications. The firm's graduate management scheme is also continuing to expand and it has taken on long-term unemployed on one of its projects.
Very impressive figures, and clearly number one in their specialist field
Building Awards 2002
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Housebuilder of the year (500-2000 homes)