‘I don’t rate it at all,’ John Tutte says

The boss of Redrow has criticised last week’s government-commissioned Building Beautiful report, saying that the comments of volume housebuilders have been ignored.

Executive chairman John Tutte said the top-10 housebuilder had submitted more than 100 pages to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission but added: “I don’t think there’s a picture of a [volume] housing scheme in there.”

John Tutte

The commission, set up by former housing secretary James Brokenshire, recommended changes to the national planning policy framework to prioritise placemaking and beauty, which would make it easier to turn down planning applications on design grounds.

New housing secretary Robert Jenrick has vowed to implement as many of Living in Beauty’s 45 recommendations as he can.

But Tutte (pictured) added: “It’s very narrow in what it covers. The [housing] examples they give are one-off, bespoke schemes which are very difficult to build and very expensive. It patronises customers. I don’t rate the report at all.”

Tutte, who is stepping down this July to take up the non-executive chariman’s post, said the firm would not follow Persimmon’s example and commission a report into its build quality.

Persimmon is inspecting around 500 homes a week after an independent review said that it had routinely failed to install correct cavity barriers and firestopping on its timber-frame properties.

Tutte said that Redrow has launched a quality management system so that it can keep tabs via iPads on any problems which affect its sites.

“The industry is quite archaic in the way it manages quality,” he added. ”The new iPad system allows us to be more efficient in managing the workmanship of our tradesmen.

”We know we can get better at quality. There is a commercial imperative because going back and putting defects right after someone has moved in is very expensive.”

He said that a “small proportion” of Redrow’s homes are made off-site and that the firm had no plans to significantly increase the building of homes using the method. “You can get good quality with a hand-built product. The issue is too many homes with outstanding defects.”

Redrow has not made any provision to cover the cost of replacing dangerous cladding that might be found on its homes. “We have a small number of schemes where we have to do work,” Tutte said. “We’re comfortable we don’t need to make below-the-line provisions.”

He said the firm was talking to the main contractors who built those schemes about who would pay for the repair work.

Redrow said pre-tax profit in the six months to December 2019 fell 15% to £157m on revenue down 10% to £870m. Completions were down 14% to 2,554. But there was an 18% rise in private net reservations, up to £936m and Tutte said that the firm was in line to grow turnover and profit in its full year.

Tutte will retire as non-executive chairman ahead of the firm’s AGM in 2021. Chief operating officer Matthew Pratt will become chief executive in July.