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 Skipton Properties is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
34 | SKIPTON PROPERTIES
Beautiful homes, carefully
Caroline Verity, Brian Verity and
Sarah Barraclough (left to right)
Based in Cross Hills, West Yorkshire, Skipton Properties
are a housing developer with a number of distinctive
qualities. Skipton Properties treat each individual context
as unique. They, like other housebuilders, have a house type
portfolio, but it is constantly evolving to suit their customer’s
needs. The houses that they build are carefully designed to
match their surroundings and be agreeable to the community
at large. This requires careful planning and close consultation
with relevant stakeholders. Moreover, the company have an
ethos that centres heavily on the concept of family, literally
and figuratively: the goal, in short, is to make everyone feel at
home. This, among other things, is discussed at greater length
in the following
article by Brian Verity, the founder and
managing director of Skipton Properties.
What makes us unique
At Skipton Properties, we start every project with a fresh perspective. This means
we don’t build run-of-the-mill houses or cut corners; rather, we build beautiful
homes, carefully and thoughtfully crafted, with a view to making them fit
seamlessly with the local architecture. Our ‘New Homes. Re-imagined’ concept was
born out of this desire.
The homes we build are in the Yorkshire and Lancashire area, within a 20-mile radius
of our head office in Cross Hills, West Yorkshire. Another trait of ours is that, rather
than largely subcontracting, we employ a large number of permanent staff who have
»Founded in 1986
»Based in Cross Hills, West
»Services: Housing development
»No. of staff: 100
»LABC North-West Housing
Award for best small new
35SKIPTON PROPERTIES |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
a full sense of what our company’s
culture and ethos is. Although this
might cost more when our build
programme slows, we nonetheless
prefer things this way: it lends itself
better to the family- oriented nature
of our company and enables us to
maintain our high-quality standards.
One of the core values of ours is an
unfaltering commitment to excellence at
every stage. In essence, we do what we
do well, with a view to always improving
and taking things a step further – and
this is something that our employees
are equally aware of. It’s a value
that’s “in the air”, so to speak. Our
team is therefore always willing to be
trained and have their skills improved.
Ultimately, we want to create a legacy
and be proud of the architectural
landscapes we arecreating.
Our building approach
Before building, we bid for land, and
we do so realistically, such that land
prices are not unduly raised. After the
land is acquired, we consult with a
group of skilled advisers to help us plan
out the project and design the homes
in a way that is agreeable to their
surroundings. To get our properties
to assimilate into the landscape and
local community, a lot of research and
careful planning is required.
As a company, we treat this latter
aspect of building houses very
seriously. A home is not just a place
to rest your head; it is an integral
part of our own identities and that
of the community at large. Getting
it aesthetically right is of great
consequence. Again, this is something
greatly assisted by the fact that we
have a permanent team of staff, deeply
imbued with the company culture and
our aesthetic expectations.
Land banking has been a hot topic in
the news, however it isn’t a practice
we employ. Delays are often planning
related. Planning departments are
experiencing a real shortage of staff and
a lack of decision-making at the local
level, resulting in many applications
taking many months (longer and in
A home is not
just a place to
rest your head;
it is an integral
part of our own
that of the
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
36 | SKIPTON PROPERTIES
most cases). This, in turn, means many
need to go to appeal. Timescales
really ought to be between eight
and 13 months, the former for minor
projects and the latter for major ones.
Presently, it averages 18 months.
A couple of our concerns and
suggestions for improvement include:
»Validation of applications: many
councils take two weeks to validate
an application regardless of its size.
To this day, we do not understand
why a validation would take
thislong. It should instead be a
matter of days.
»Pre-app services: many councils offer
this service but in many cases it isn’t
useful as there is no continuation of
support. The feedback we receive
on engineering, highways and
affordable housing in the pre-app
process should help us to overcome
the developments issues and allow us
to gain support for theapplication.
We have confidence in the future of
the Yorkshire and Lancashire region,
as both regions have shown strong
sales growth, even as some regions in
the south of England have suffered.
As such, we have increased our
build over the next financial year by
roughly 30 per cent. Indeed, we are
diversifying our offering in order to do
this, focusing on consistent quality and
unique designs to suit the needs of
In terms of the future, we’re not
particularly perturbed by political or
economic events. Having recently hired
a new Financial Director we have an
even keener eye on cost and viability
of the land we acquire. Our belief in
what we are doing drives us forward;
as long as we keep listening to the
needs of the community and continue
to build quality homes, at the right
price, we are confident there will be a
market for them.
It’s worth mentioning that the future
will eventually see the company led
by two women, my two daughters,
Sarah Barraclough (current operations
director) and Caroline Verity (Sales,
Marketing and Design Director). I look
forward to what the future brings and
hope my granddaughters may want a
place in the company in years to come;
it truly will be a family business then.
the future of
Excellence at every stage
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.