William George Homes

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by William George Homes'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 William George Homes 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

www.williamgeorgehomes.com

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
28 | WILLIAM GEORGE HOMES
George Nixon, Founder and
Managing Director
Latest development,
Esher, Surrey
Founded in 1998 and based in Battersea, William George
Homes is a property developer with a focus in London
and the southeast. Given the flux of the property market,
the company has had to show exceptional resilience in order
to survive – not least during the 2008 recession. This has
provided them with the bold approach it undertakes today
in facing big national issues, including the housing crisis. The
negative publicity faced by the property sector has presented an
opportunity for the company to redefine what it means to be
a property developer within the context of this current climate.
Managing Director George Nixon believes that this biased
examination of the sector will only prolong the issues around
housing and development – one among many topics he tells
The Parliamentary Review
about.
Our modus operandi
It’s not always clear what exactly a property developer does and what utility it has
for broader society. In essence, we facilitate the building of houses in the private
sector, often renovating otherwise uninhabitable land in the process. For the most
part at William George Homes, our scope covers the southeast of England, mostly
for logistical reasons, although we do have projects elsewhere. In order to develop
land and properties, it’s necessary to be exceptionally proactive and be able to
identify sites – which is a skill that is crucial to our process and our success.
FACTS ABOUT
WILLIAM GEORGE HOMES
»Founder and Managing
Director: George Nixon
»Established in 1998
»Based in Battersea, London
»Services: Property
development
»Planning submissions for more
than 1,000 homes over the
next 18months
»Converting a Manchester mill
into more than 200 flats
»A project in Zagreb, Croatia,
underway for 42 flats
William George Homes
29WILLIAM GEORGE HOMES |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
For example, in Purley, we found a
detached 1930s-era property that
posed an exciting opportunity for
a project. What made this such an
enticing venture was the fact that
this house was stood as a misfit
among flats and other developed sites
indicating that the property was ripe
for development. Whenever there is an
opportunity to do away with business
formality, we take it – we simply
knocked on the door and asked the
couple who owned it if we could buy
it. A cup of tea and three months of
discussion later, we established a sale.
We don’t always knock on doors, but
when a property is particularly enticing,
we will. Often, though, people call us
to discuss opportunities.
Vision and creativity
One of our more notable projects,
surprisingly enough, is in Manchester:
a mill from the 1870s, immense in
both stature and beauty, covering an
area of roughly 200,000 square feet.
This was a fascinating project to come
by, and without knowing the full
heritage involved, I resolved to make
the purchase. Bold approaches to
opportunities such as this have made
our company the visionary developer
that it is today. The planning phase
on the mill took approximately
18 months and required close co-
operation with the local council – for
whom it was important that we
didn’t leave an economic dent in the
area. In the course of converting a
commercial area into a residential
one, we had to prove we would
not cause any significant job loss in
the process. The council was indeed
justified in identifying this risk, and we
worked together to allow sufficient
time for the previous commercial
tenants to find somewhere suitable
to relocate to. The end result of this
project will be over 200 new flats in
the area and 26,000 square feet of
commercialspace.
Where we plan to grow is in yet more
conversions of this type: industrial
sites into residential ones. Due to
restrictions to development, such as the
greenbelt, getting creative with respect
to the land we develop is crucial.
For instance, we discovered a site of
unkempt garages in South Norwood
that were inviting antisocial behaviour
and crime due to the nature of the
area. Being in an area where antisocial
behaviour makes up over 20 per cent
of all crime, this was an opportunity for
us to demonstrate both the benefits
of responsible development and our
reputation of ingenuity to further
enhance ourportfolio.
This is yet another example of the way
in which working together with the
local authorities ensures benefit for all
stakeholders. Consulting with relevant
stakeholders is indeed a value we take
seriously, which is why we proactively
engage with the local community,
even on social media. We want to
demonstrate the value of relationships
within property development, where
the interactions between developer
and prospective homeowners needn’t
be zero-sum and antagonistic. It is not
within our interests to build homes
without the approval of these presiding
bodies; we want new homeowners to
feel part of the community.
Trinity Mews, Guildford
In order to
develop land
and properties,
it’s necessary to
be exceptionally
proactive and be
able to identify
sites
Also Google’s 20th
birthday
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
30 | WILLIAM GEORGE HOMES
Challenges
The housing crisis has been challenging
for both prospective homeowners and
developers. The latter, it seems, have
not been as thoroughly reported on,
which has had a real effect on the
perception of developers. There is very
limited awareness of the trials faced by
developers, where biased examination
of the industry has contributed to
sustaining the issues around housing
and development. The Affordable
Housing Scheme, for instance, must
be questioned when developers have
no choice but to turn down projects
based on the dictation of permissible
profit margins by councils; the
ultimate consequence: fewer houses
beingbuilt.
Delays caused by case officers reflect
poor development management
practice, which also affects rate of
regeneration for areas in direst need
– and, in turn, the rate of economic
growth in these areas. There’s a
clear need for bilateral relationships
between both developer and
government authorities. This should
come with extended co-operation
towards the developer, in order to
stimulate residential development
in England with a view to solving
the housing crisis. The construction
industry is already hard-pressed to
contribute toward the solutions to this
challenge. Without the infrastructural
support of effective policy, decreased
timescales and efficient costs, it
seems that developers like ourselves
are abandoned to our own limited
resources. To this end, we’d like
companies such as ours to receive
greater representation in government.
Despite such hurdles, we feel
confident. We survived the calamitous
2008 recession and are now
celebrating our 20th anniversary. Our
contacts are improving and our phone
is constantly ringing. In addition to
this, as part of a charitable effort for
the community in Esher, Surrey, we’re
working on moving a war memorial
to somewhere it’s better suited. By
engaging with communities in this way
and constantly being proactive, the
future has good things in store – for
us, the communities and the country
at large.
We want to
demonstrate
the value of
relationships
within
property
development
Creation of 213
new homes, Greater
Manchester

www.williamgeorgehomes.com

This article was sponsored by William George Homes. 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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

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.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy