Find the land
Buying the right land in the right location is crucial to creating great places to live.
This site was different because, unlike the majority of our projects, it wasn’t a new build – we were developing an existing building. The site was marketed through a West End London agency to a shortlist of just six parties. Barratt London was included, and a meeting was set up with the agency.
The site at the time fitted well within the Barratt London target areas as it sat within Zone 1 and held a planning permission for 60 private residential units. It also sat opposite another Barratt London development, ‘The Courthouse’, that was under construction. The timings were well aligned so that once the existing development was completed, the new one could begin.
Our department plays the front-end aspect of the development, which effectively means sourcing the opportunity, as well as taking it through the acquisition process.
Senior Land Manager
Appraise and acquire the land
Land and Development
After we confirmed our interest, the process of due diligence began. This involved a number of our departments, including Sales, Construction, Technical and Commercial; all led by the Land and Development team. With the site being an existing building, there was an added layer of complexity to the overall project. Fortunately, as the building was vacant we were able to visit the site to expose elements of the structure.
Once we were selected as the preferred developer, heads of terms were agreed and the Barratt internal approvals processes began. After about two months, the site received Land and Development Leadership Group and Main Board approval from the Barratt PLC board and was legally completed in February 2013.
All our sites have ISO14001 certified Environmental Management Systems.
One of the biggest challenges was to convert the existing car showroom (on the ground floor) and the offices above into a retail and residential scheme. The Technical team appointed the Design Consultants, including the Architect, Structural Engineer and Mechanical/Electrical Engineer. They closely managed and co-ordinated the production of drawings, details and schedules. These were then checked prior to forwarding to the Commercial, Construction and Sales teams at both tender and construction stages.
We work as a team – we have to work as a team – in order to be successful – in order for the project to be successful.
Chief Technical Manager
The Technical team comprised of a Senior Technical Manager and a Senior Technical Co-ordinator. They were responsible for managing the flow of design information from the Design team and providing technical support to the Construction team during the whole construction life cycle.
On completion, the site comprised of 61 residential apartments and two separate retail units located on the ground floor. The materials used were carefully selected as it was important they were sympathetic to the character of the existing building. Team members even ventured across to Italy to visit a quarry to obtain the limestone required for the façade. The interior of the building needed to have the high quality specification and finishes suitable for such a desirable location within the heart of Westminster.
One technical aspect that proved particularly challenging on this project was the staggered delivery of completed properties to buyers. The 3rd and 4th floors of the building were completed and handed over to customers whilst work on the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th floors was ongoing. This inevitably required very delicate management with regard to ensuring the new owners were not disturbed by the continuing works.
As the Projects Director for the scheme, I have overall responsibility for the commercial, technical and construction delivery of the project.
Initial works involved the removal of sections of the external façade to create new window openings. Whilst this work was ongoing, a three bedroom show apartment was created on the first floor together with the main concierge area, and associated staircase. The concierge area acted as the sales office during the construction process.
We're investing in modern methods of construction, which will help increase production in the industry.
This project was special for me, primarily because of its challenges. I’m not one to shy away from a problem and I like to think I bring a lot of positive energy to a development.
Senior Site Manager
Keeping track of commercial progress of the trade contractor, the Commercial team monitored any changes to orders and recorded any issues with the site instructions. By attending regular trade contractor meetings chaired by the Construction team, we were able to swiftly resolve any potential commercial issues. Great Minster was a challenging project to cost, due to it being an adapted structure rather than a brand new building.
The best thing about my job is the scope of work the role undertakes and the interface with other departments.
Sell the apartment
Responsible for all aspects of sales and marketing, our Sales team ensured that all the reservation and legal completion targets were met. Our 61 apartments were launched in April 2014 with the bulk of buyers being owner-occupiers either purchasing for a London base or downsizing.
Our Technical team provided the Sales team with essential knowledge regarding the underground car park, mechanical comfort cooling and underfloor heating – elements that potential buyers would no doubt be interested to hear more about.
Once the product is built, we’ll then go in and what we call ‘snag’ the apartment – so we’ll go around and see if there’s any marks or anything like that that might have been missed from construction.
Senior Sales Adviser
Without sales we don’t have a business. So there’s no point in us building a wonderful development if the Sales team is not on its game, that the product is not right, and most importantly, we’re not getting the customers through the door.
From the point of exchange, our Customer Service team are introduced to the customers. They build a relationship with the customer, working hard to ensure that their questions are answered, their standards met and that their move is made easier. Customer Service’s responsibilities include 'snagging' the property, giving customers the opportunity to meet the Site Manager that built their home, taking them on home tour demonstrations, handing the property over to them, and ultimately, making sure that the customer is happy.
Our completions are now running at the highest level for over seven years - we're approaching 45,000 completed homes in the last three years.
The working environment at Barratt is again quite unique. It’s lovely how there’s so many different departments and you’re all working together as one team and as everyone always says, ‘one London’.
Customer Experience Manager
After completion, Barratt Residential Asset Management (BRAM) take on the maintenance of the communal areas. This entails instigating maintenance contracts to the passenger and car lifts, roller shutter, fire protection equipment, lighting, communal window cleaning and water booster pump maintenance. Plus ensuring the common areas are fully maintained with regular health and safety audits.
Once the development is completed; the transfer of management is then passed onto BRAM to maintain the communal areas moving forward.
Our 24-hour concierge service employs four Concierges who play an essential role in the lives of the residents – whether it be providing valuable security, helping with deliveries or welcoming guests. And with the majority of potential buyers looking for a building that provides such a service, our Concierge team have proven to be a real asset to the Sales team. Barratt Residential Asset Management recognise what an important role the Concierge team play, so ongoing motivation, welfare, performance reviews, development and training is provided to keep everyone up to speed.
Since the beginning, we have received training with the whole team – so how to deal with/how to follow all the company policies and to get us more confident with the role.