Despite challenging circumstances as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Catesby business has remained agile in an uncertain working and economic environment.
Our business model continued to operate with minimal disruption, and despite lockdown coming into force during our half year period, overall, this year was a strong financial performance with gross cash generated of £12.38m and pre-tax profits of £3.3m.
Catesby disposed of 4 sites to volume housebuilders, totalling 93 gross acres with planning consent obtained for 815 new homes with a total gross land value of £63.6m. Our continued focus on the South Midlands, South, South East and East of England, means the average price per square foot of dwellings for private sales by our housebuilder customers is £352 reflecting the high demand in these areas.
Both offices at Warwick and Basingstoke are open, and we have implemented a number of protocols across the business to safeguard our employees and landowners, including flexible working practices, and use of video conferencing facilities for meetings. We have embraced the new working normal, new technology, and our public consultation and community engagement practices for sites has been adapted to deal with social distancing requirements.
To help support the health and wellbeing of employees during lockdown, we held regular online catch-up meetings with staff to discuss both personal and business issues, along with hosting regular social events bringing employees together. Virtual events included; bingo, lunches, quiz nights and cocktail evenings.
The year also saw other changes, with Paul Brocklehurst stepping down as Chief Executive after 15 years with the business.
The experience and strength within the existing senior management team, saw Myron Osborne move into the Chief Executive role, and David Morris was promoted to Planning and Operations Director.
Between them they have over 30 years’ experience within the sector, and are well placed to lead the team as the business evolves.
During the year planning consent was granted or resolved to grant on 1,344 homes across 7 sites, including 110 homes in East Horsley, where the average house price is in excess of £1,000,000.
During lockdown, virtual committee hearings, proved fruitful with Catesby achieving one of its most successful planning periods to date. With resolution to grant planning permission being achieved across 4 sites totalling 150 acres and 1,054 homes.
The opening of the Basingstoke office in April 2019, has enabled us to increase our support and accessibility for landowners located in the South of England. The office has brought forward Alfold Phase 2 and Hellingly Phase 1 which are currently for sale, and planning applications have been submitted or are being prepared for a further 4 sites.
At Myton Green, Warwick, all four housebuilders are onsite, with over 100 residents due to be in occupation by January 2021. The 25 acres of public open space including 6 equipped play areas is due to be adopted by Warwickshire District Council, and the wider A452 Europa Way corridor infrastructure works are due to complete in March 2021, ending our involvement in this site.
The housing and land market despite unprecedented wider economic issues due to the ongoing pandemic, is buoyant. As a business we remain optimistic regarding the year ahead, with 6 consented sites ready for the market. But much remains to be seen if demand for homes remains at the inflated levels currently being experienced.
We will continue to work with multi-disciplinary partners to ensure we bring forward sites which are sensitively designed, sustainable, positively address climate change issues and help provide much needed new homes, in line with the Governments’ desire to support economic recovery through development.
Recent planning successes and sales, places emphasis on the replenishing of our land sites to ensure we continue to have a strong pipeline of unconsented sites to promote. We continue to work closely with agents and landowners, and are always looking for more sites, please don’t hesitate to contact the land team.