Winner - Inspace/Willmott Dixon Housing

Sponsored by Constructing Excellence

When it comes to housing, it has been a year of change for Willmott Dixon. In July its housing arm was acquired by Inspace, a business that had itself been de-merged from the same parent the previous year. The deal brought to Inspace both the Willmott Dixon housing business, which this year is expected to build some 1,500 homes, and the private development arm, Widacre Homes.

Both parts of the business have developed a reputation for innovation. Widacre has established joint ventures to develop mixed tenure housing schemes with two registered social landlords: Catalyst Housing Group and Circle Anglia. Willmott Dixon Housing has been a keen proponent of modern methods of construction, with MMC now accounting for 70% of what it builds.

The company’s regeneration skills are broad-ranging. It encourages local young people to forge careers in construction. Its sustainability strategy has seen it adopt recycling initiatives, minimise waste, specify greener building materials and build more environmentally-friendly homes, and all of those homes are on brownfield land. With such high profile housing schemes as east London’s much-praised Fabrika, designed by Peter Barber Associates for Widacre’s joint venture with Circle Anglia, to its credit, it is no wonder that the company is a winner.

Runners up

Leadbitter Construction

Working with seven housing associations and Cardiff city council, Leadbitter Construction is pulling out all the stops to deliver up to 500 homes over five to seven years. Through the partnership, cost savings and added value are being delivered and cross-subsidy from the sale of private housing will provide about 100 new homes for the council. The programme is benefiting the community by providing low-energy homes and training for local labour. The project is typical of this regional contractor, which operates throughout the Midlands, the South and South Wales, and should help it achieve a turnover of in excess of £170m this year.

Linford Group

The transformation of the grade II-listed Nechells Baths in Birmingham into an enterprise and community centre, the restoration of Stockport’s medieval Staircase House as part of a broader regeneration, and the development of community offices in a former colliery building in Stoke-on-Trent are among the projects carried out by Linford Group over the past year. As that snapshot of the £30m-a-year turnover firm’s activities shows, regeneration with a restoration emphasis is its forte. Its regular work with listed buildings tests the company’s ingenuity and poses considerable challenges: for the Nechells Baths scheme they decided to put the former swimming pool to good use by specifying a hot air heating system and channelling the air into the pool, while converting the colliery building to offices required the installation of 22km of data cabling.