Using our planning and design skills to convert our quality land bank into great places to live is fundamental to our continued success.
The Group added 5,419 plots with planning permission to our owned and contracted land bank in the year. This more than replaced the record 5,319 legal completions (excluding JV) and we ended the year with 26,100 plots in our owned and contracted land bank. This was a small increase on the very strong closing position in the previous year and represents about five years output and a Gross Development Value, based on our 2017 average selling price, of £8.2bn.
Forward land again made a significant contribution, comprising over 60% of the 5,419 additions in the year across 22 sites. This included the important strategic ‘Plasdŵr’ site – Cardiff’s new Garden City.
Despite transferring 3,356 plots to the owned and contracted land bank, we still increased our forward land bank by a net 766 plots to 26,400 plots. Over 40% of these plots are allocated for housing in Local Authority Plans.
Redrow has long embraced the design principles of Garden Towns and Villages to create new communities that stand the test of time. During the year we brought together our planning, design and technical teams from across the business in a series of Placemaking workshops to share best practice and formalise a set of design principles. As a result we established seven key design principles that are essential to creating better places to live and are applied to all of our developments, irrespective of their scale and location.
‘Nature for People’ is one of our seven principles.
At our Caddington Woods development in Chaul End we are creating a duck pond and a trim trail along the edge of 35 acres of woodland.
At Barton Park, in the Northamptonshire village of Barton Seagrave, we have made a long-term commitment to the ecological protection, diversity and enhancement of the development. Existing trees and hedgerows have been retained and enhanced with new trees, shrubs, hedgerows and wetland planting. There are a number of park areas across the development, including ‘Sanctuary’ which is rural in character, utilising natural materials with native tree and hedge planting. In the equipped play area, stepping-stones, low mounding and timber constructed elements provide areas for natural play.
Transport links are important and 97% of our legal completions this year were within 500m of a public transport node.
BRINGING BENEFITS TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES
We delivered 1,014 social housing homes in the year across our developments with a value of £115m – a 22% increase on the number of homes in the previous year (2016: 834 homes, £86m value).
We also committed £163m in 2017 to fund improvements to communities local to our developments, a 15% increase on last year (2016: £142m). These improvements included providing new schools, community centres, local medical and sports facilities, footpaths and cycleways and attractive areas of public open space.
We aim to enhance the ecological value of our developments recognising the importance of strengthening people’s connections with nature and their natural surroundings. We achieve this through design, partnerships and our commitment to continually refine our understanding of important biodiversity principles.
We plan to create valuable and functional wildlife corridors and interconnected habitat areas on our developments. For example, at Harbour Village, Fleetwood a coastal path and ecological corridor to the adjacent estuary has been created. On the Sycamore Green development, Cheshire we have created a natural corridor to enable barn owls to cross the site from east to west.
At our Glenwood Park, Barnstaple development and at Caddington Woods, Chaul End we are installing ‘hedgehog highways’. These highways are simply small holes created in the bottom of fence panels to allow hedgehogs to move easily from garden to garden. Many of our sites, such as Abode in Bedminster, are now providing nest boxes integrated into external walls to help address the decline in the swift population.
Our unique corporate partnership with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) is working to make our developments as bee friendly as possible. The landscaping at our Saxon Brook, Exeter development has been designed to provide the best habitat for bumblebees to thrive. The development includes a bee trail that runs right across the axis of the site and will help to educate and inform residents about bumblebees.
As we move into the new financial year we are strengthening our relationship with the BBCT. Through greater customer engagement and by working with our supply chain to increase our focus on conservation, we believe even more can be done to help bumblebees flourish.
REGENERATION – CREATING NEW COMMUNITIES ON PREVIOUSLY USED LAND
The demand and need for more new homes cannot be met by only building on previously used land. However, we have to ensure wherever possible, as a priority we redevelop redundant sites. Brownfield sites account for c50% of our owned and contracted land bank.
At Sudbrook, Monmouth in South Wales, Harrow Estates have demolished an unsightly factory on the Severn Estuary and are remediating the site to provide an attractive 212 home outlet with views of the Severn Bridge – the site will be developed by our South Wales division.
During the year our London Division was selected by Wandsworth Borough Council to be their development partner to regenerate the Alton Estate in Roehampton. The development plans include the replacement of parts of the post-war housing with up to 1,000 new private and affordable homes as well as a new library and healthcare and children’s centres. As part of the regeneration programme we aim to provide local residents with jobs, training and apprenticeships.
Based on Garden City principles the planning application which was consented in outline form earlier this year is one of the largest ever considered by the planners at Cardiff and ranks amongst the largest single applications ever to be granted consent in the UK. It is also the biggest challenge the Redrow Land and Planning team, which includes Grant Strong and Dafydd Andrews, have ever faced.
“Plasdŵr is a once in a generation opportunity for us,” explained Dafydd. “It’s like managing twenty unique developments rolled into one. It’s amazing to have this opportunity so early in our careers.”
The pair came to Plasdŵr via Redrow’s Graduate Training Scheme; an experience they found invaluable as they took on the sheer size and scale of this landmark project. While it may come under the remit of Land and Planning, this massive project uses skills from all areas of the company.
“Plasdŵr is like a business in its own right,” says Grant. “One day we’re working on marketing, the next we’re dealing with drainage, then the next it’s land purchases.”
The team have been involved in everything from two years of planning applications, to six months negotiating Redrow’s section 106 commitments. They are currently managing the process of both buying parcels of land for Redrow and packaging other parcels for sale to partner developers.
While Grant and Dafydd have felt fully supported by their Redrow colleagues, they still enjoy the freedom and rewards of making their own decisions.
“At Redrow, you can knock on any door for help and advice and not lose ownership of your project,” says Dafydd. “Without that, we’d just be pen-pushing!”
“Everyone is happy to help, without feeling the need to take over,” agrees Grant. “Which gives you the confidence to proceed with the project in your own way."
Their ‘own way’ has been highly successful, as they proved when they encountered an issue with a topographically challenging parcel near the entrance to the site, which prevented conventional attenuation and residential development. Thinking outside the box, they created a series of cascading ponds in the location, getting around the planning constraint in an attractive and creative way that was perfect for the Plasdŵr site, since the name translates as ‘Water Hall’.
After working with the plans for so long, the team are thrilled to finally see the fruits of their labours. “There’s a massive sense of achievement to see homes finally coming out of the ground,” says Grant.
Although the project is expected to run for between 15 and 20 years, both Dafydd and Grant hope to stay involved until the end, if Redrow will have them. After working on such a massive and challenging project for so long, it’s easy to see why. “We’d love to see the project through to completion,” says Dafydd. “It will be incredible to have that legacy.”