Six heavyweight housebuilders lined up for this award, which was won by a company that showed how innovation and a dedication to sustainable communities can actually be good for the bottom line. Sponsored by Finnforest
It's been a tough year for housebuilding, but that hasn't stopped Redrow forging ahead with record pre-tax profits of £141m, more than 4000 completions, 70% of which were on brownfield land, and a healthy-looking land bank of more than 22,000 plots. It also hasn't stopped Redrow from taking on John Prescott's challenge to build homes for £60,000. In fact its Debut range in Rugby, which is specifically aimed at first-time buyers, has gone one better with pricetags starting at less than £50k. Redrow has taken the Barker review to heart, prioritising affordability, modern methods of construction and sustainability. The evidence? It has imposed a legal framework to prevent Debut homes being snapped up by investors and the range has achieved the BRE EcoHomes rating of "excellent". A winner on all counts.
When it comes to urban regeneration, Taylor Woodrow is setting the standard. Just take a look at Grand Union Village in west London, where it has used all its ingenuity to transform a 22 ha industrial site into a desirable residential area. Its first bright idea was to use a bioremediation technique to recycle 4000 tonnes of steel and 20 tonnes of non-ferrous metal on site, saving 22,000 lorry journeys. This combined with other achievements - such as 35% of homes being affordable - caught the eye of London mayor Ken Livingstone who praised it as "a template I would urge other developers to follow".
You wouldn't expect your average housebuilder to dedicate time and money to researching the impact of house design on family life. But then David Wilson isn't average, which is why it teamed up with Nottingham University in a unique collaboration called Project:LIFE. The study involved building a concept house with an innovative layout, installing a family for six months and monitoring them to see how they reacted to their environment. So expect the designs for its next range of homes to be anything but average.
2005 was a year of expansion for Miller. Its acquisition Fairclough has extended its reach beyond its Scottish base to south of the border, propelling it into the top 10 housebuilders in the UK. Operating profit increased 22% on the back of a £400m turnover.
The secret of Miller's success? Perhaps its ability to adapt and innovate. Take, for example, its website www.mymillerhome.com, which allows customers to track every stage of their new home. That may partly explain why in a recent survey 86% customers said they'd recommend it to a friend. Surely a sign of more good years to come.
Barratt makes success look easy. In 2005 it completed an impressive 14,000 homes, reaped £396m in operating profit and recently announced forward sales of £900m. But of course results like these are the product of hard work. Despite harsher market conditions Barratt has continued to invest in technology and staff to ensure that it can be at the cutting edge of housebuilding. This means it has managed to increase production of steel-framed modular homes, push up its proportion of brownfield homes to 80% and play a key part in the government's new communities programme. Altogether a slick operation.
Last year Bellway signed up to one of the biggest regeneration projects in the country. Solihull council's plans to remodel homes, businesses and transport links in15 neighbourhoods, with a total population of 40,000. And who better for the job? In the same year, Bellway's commitment to sustainable and affordable housing has also won it pioneering schemes in the East Midlands and Birmingham as well as a place on the government's national brownfield strategy. All of which helps explain how Bellway was able to report a staggering £1.7bn turnover, and why it continues to be an industry favourite.
Building Awards 2006
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Major housebuilder of the year