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, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP
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

The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from the prime minister.

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

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

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