Mandale Group

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Mandale Group's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Mandale Group is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Director Joe Darragh
Cavendish Vale, Slingsby, North
Yorkshire – a multiple UK Property
Award winning development
Established in 1982, Mandale Group is a highly experienced
property development company, specialising in commercial,
industrial and residential builds. Based in Stockton-on-Tees,
Mandale Group have never been afraid to diversify and tap into
new markets, and as a result they have been able to weather
the storms of recent years and come out stronger than ever.
Director Joe Darragh discusses their tumultuous journey and
explains that their quality and commitment has allowed them to
bounce back from adversity.
Mandale began originally as a side business that we utilised to invest income
generated by a pool and snooker factory. We started by buying a shop in Stockton-
on-Tees, but the rapid decline in the popularity of snooker and pool led to an
acceleration in the growth of Mandale. Eventually, the pool and snooker business
closed and the premises were converted to fit the needs of Mandale and other
businesses who began renting the space.
Our journey
In 1987, Margaret Thatcher took her famous “walk in the wilderness” in Stockton-
on-Tees. The subsequent creation of the Teesside Development Corporation
initiated a collaboration which helped create Teesdale Business Park. Also
earmarked within the TDC’s plan was Hartlepool Marina, a 75-acre wasteland. We
took ownership and invested over £50 million into the complete regeneration of
Hartlepool Marina to transform it into the thriving social hub it is today.
»Director: Joe Darragh
»Founded in 1982
»Based in Stockton-on-Tees
»No. of employees: 67
»Services: Property
development, specialising in
commercial, industrial and
residential builds
Mandale Group
Highlighting best practice
Following this early success,
opportunities began to snowball.
By the early 2000s we had become
a leading developer of apartments
throughout the north of England
and one of the northeast’s largest
landlords. We had also been involved
in the development of business parks,
apartment complexes and housing and
industrial estates. In 2008 though, we
faced plenty of challenges as a result
of the financial crisis that threatened
to cause irreparable damage to the
business. We were heavily involved in
an apartment market that collapsed
overnight, and this saw our future
developments virtually unsellable.
In response, we diversified further
and changed our business model
The land that had been earmarked
for apartments was in danger of
becoming useless, so in response we
chose to devise a new plan that would
determine how the land would be
put to use. Over the next few years
we took stock and consolidated our
market position to ensure we would
have the opportunity to reinvest in
the future when the market picked
up. We discontinued our new-build
apartment projects, sold off some
future development land and changed
the planning on others to build houses.
These alterations allowed us to begin
larger-scale housebuilding.
Perfecting our trade
We have since perfected the art of
building high-specification homes.
This area of the business is thriving
and the quality in all aspects of our
homes sets us apart from many
national housebuilders. We are proud
of our product, from the quality of
finish to our high level of customer
service, while our development
sizes are starting to increase. We
regularly create house types for new
developments, which enables us to
tailor our builds more closely to the
preferences of the local market. Our
policy of constant improvement allows
us the flexibility to change house types
from site to site, and even within a
development, to ensure we remain
competitive within ourmarket.
Following the recession, we made the
decision to reduce our reliance on
banks. We paid off any outstanding
loans, and laid the foundations for
sustainable future growth by only
funding developments with our own
cash reserves. As a result, we have
safeguarded ourselves somewhat
against the cyclical nature of the
construction market. Over the
past few years we have noticed
marked changes in the property
market. Commercial demand is
coming more in the form of light
industrial and hybrid units, which
reflects the changing face of the UK
economy and the rise of the online
marketplace. Flexible working has left
the office market in lower demand,
but there is now an expectation for
well-connected homes as a result.
Consumer habits have changed and
we are seeing this in the reduction
in demand for prime, large, retail
spaces, but falling rents are allowing
independent traders to open small
high street stores.
Mandale Business Park,
Durham – a former
television factory, mid-
Our policy of
allows us the
flexibility to
change house
types from site
to site and
even within a
to ensure we
within our
Policy considerations
The change to planning regulation has
been beneficial, and prior notification
planning policy has helped us grow.
As a result, we are now converting a
number of office blocks every year,
with over 800 units created in 2018.
This has been encouraged by investors’
reluctance to put money into banks
and stocks. British property is seen by
many as a safe investment and this
is particularly noticeable following
the influx of demand from overseas –
which has been helped by the fall in
the value of the pound.
The return of a market for new-build
apartments in non-city areas causes
concern over government policy with
regards to the leasehold and freehold
relationship. The policy requires a lot
of careful consideration and there is
agreement throughout the industry
that regulations over leasehold
properties should be looked at and
amended. Prior notification has proved
useful for building cash reserves due to
the quick turnaround of these projects.
To obtain planning permission on a
scheme like this typically takes less
than three months, which allows us to
plan and forecast growth effectively.
Conversely, planning permission for a
housing development can take years,
meaning it’s difficult and sometimes
impossible to plan and assign working
capital to a housingproject.
Long-term prior notification schemes
are due to stop in 2021. For us to
efficiently fill the gap, establishing
a streamlined planning system is
crucial. Often, we are held up by local
committees and politicians who want to
avoid contentious decisions resulting in
excessive delays, even on developments
recommended for approval by
local planning officers. In the near
future, the construction industry will
experience a raft of changes, including
modern construction methods, new
renewable energy regulations and eco
considerations. How housebuilders
respond and how quickly they embrace
new technology will depend on a
variety of factors, including the level
of investment that is required to enter
this market and the risks associated
with embracing newideas.
We intend to grow the Mandale Group
at a sustainable rate using our own
cash reserves. Over the past 18 months
80 per cent of our houses, 100 per cent
of our apartments and 100 per cent
of our commercial developments have
been built on brownfield sites. As a
smaller developer, unafraid of tackling
new challenges, we will continue to
harness the potential that brownfield
sites offer us where possible. When
necessary we will continue to diversify
and embrace any challenges that we
face in the naturally cyclical industry
that is propertydevelopment.
As a smaller
unafraid of
tackling new
challenges, we
will continue to
harness the
potential that
brownfield sites
offer us where
Left: Chad House,
Right: The Leas, Medburn,

This article was sponsored by Mandale Group. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister