Find the land
Buying the right land in the right location is crucial to creating great places to live.
The site was originally allocated for solely employment premises. Following discussions with the Local Planning Authority however, we were able to negotiate a joint use building scheme, which we marketed alongside Wakefield Council, through their Local Plan initiative.
My department – being land – was responsible for identifying this site 10 years ago as it had planning potential. We then optioned the site, doing a deal with the landowner.
Appraise and acquire the land
Land and Development
We secured the strategic site for Silkwood Gate in 2001. It was initially allocated as a special policy area restricted to business uses (B1, B2 & B8), landscaping, and open space within Wakefield Council’s Unitary Development Plan (UDP). However, as the UDP began to near the end of its expected life span, it became clear that Wakefield Council needed to release significant areas of land for housing within their emerging Local Development Framework (LDF), if they were to meet their projected housing needs.
We worked closely with the Local Authority during the various stages of the LDF, producing reports and conducting surveys in relation to traffic and local employment. The results we gained allowed us to demonstrate that the site was able to accommodate a large proportion of residential housing, with limited employment uses.
All our sites have ISO14001 certified Environmental Management Systems.
Planning, which sits within the Land team, provide planning advice and get involved very early on in terms of site acquisition, to see if sites are going to be suitable and look at the likelihood of obtaining planning permission.
In a project like this, commercial would be involved at an early stage with land and technical. We would assist them to put together the land viability; they would look at purchasing the site from that.
Senior Quantity Surveyor
Having identified the land for Silkwood Gate, it was up to our Technical team to prepare draft designs and carry out an appraisal of the site. Firstly, our Engineering Co-ordinators produced a constraints plan, which was then passed on to the Layout Designer. The completed site layout design was then handed over to the Engineer, who prepared drainage, levels and foundation layouts, as well as a complete technical report for the site. This technical appraisal was then passed to the Commercial team for pricing and inclusion in the overall land value.
Using the site cost reports provided by the Technical team, our Commercial team were able to determine the total cost of developing the site and the overall land value. Silkwood Gate was a particularly complex project to cost due to the previous uses of the site and the size of the land.
Once the land deal was agreed, the Technical Co-ordinators and Engineering Co-ordinators prepared for the site start. This involved acquiring a variety of official documentation, from obtaining technical approvals, to ensuring we were protecting trees and wildlife. The Co-ordinators also supported the Construction team, by providing technical information and responding to site queries.
Once the layout was ready I prepared the engineering appraisal which involved me working on the levels, the foundations and the drainage for the site.
Within the Technical team we work with every department, treating them as our customer, issuing information which they need to both construct and sell the houses.
Silkwood Gate was a technically challenging site as there were issues with the ground conditions and remediation works. Despite these challenges, our Site team managed these issues extremely well, as they built an attractive sales complex, set up compound facilities, and undertook traffic management and health and safety duties.
We're investing in modern methods of construction, which will help increase production in the industry.
As a Site Manager you need to be kept in touch with Sales, so you know what the customers are expecting and to keep to programme, to hand over that finished product.
Every house contains around 10,000 components, and it was down to our Commercial team to source, purchase and install all of these parts. After our Material Buyers had scheduled and ordered all of the materials to be installed by the Site team, our Quantity Surveyors then sourced subcontractors to carry out all plumbing, electrical, foundation and painting work. By liaising with the Site teams daily and monitoring monthly costs, our Quantity Surveyors ensured that we remained within our budget.
The Buyers would generally get involved with a project such as this at pre-start stage, with the selection of materials to get planning approved.
Sell the house
Responsible for all aspects of sales and marketing, our Sales team ensured that all reservation and legal completion targets were met. As the home styles available in Silkwood Gate appealed to First Time Buyers and Move-Up purchasers, our Sales team ensured all marketing activity and development webpages were tailored to the respective buyer profiles. Our customers are at the heart of what we do, and it was down to our Sales team to ensure we provided our purchasers with an outstanding customer experience.
I was involved in this project from day one, which was basically setting up the show homes, meeting with the designers and looking at the local area.
The best thing about my job is dealing with the customers, it's such a fantastic experience, giving them the keys on the day when they move in.
Senior Sales Adviser
Along with our Sales team, our Construction team were responsible for ensuring that our customers received the best possible service and were fully able to enjoy their new homes and environment.
Our Technical team also supported the Sales team by providing legal plans, assisting in the preparation of sales literature and responding to queries raised by customers.
The best thing about my job is obviously building a quality home, showing an NHBC inspector round the different key stages, and ultimately, at the end of it all, I want to deliver a good house to a customer.
Once the Silkwood Gate site had been completed, our Technical team continued to work on the project by handing over public open spaces, roads and sewers to the adopting authority.
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.
Our Customer Service team work closely with all other departments to ensure that even after customers have moved into their new home they are provided with the very best care. These responsibilities include recording and managing any defects that may arise during the warranty period and helping the customer with any enquiries they have about their home or the development.
The Customer Service department deals with issues which the customer may have after legal completion, and to resolve any issues within the property.
Customer Service Co-ordinator