Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Midlands property boom

OK – we’re talking property prices again. But when you see a headline like “House prices: Northants leads Midlands 'mini-boom', says Rightmove” you have to take a look, don’t you?

Acccording to a report in The Guardian newspaper, property website Rightmove says that buyers priced out of London are snapping up cheaper homes across the middle of England in locations with good commuting links.

Larkfleet is building in Corby, Northamptonshire, as well as
other Midlands 'property hotspots' identified by Rightmove.

The paper quotes Rightmove as saying that asking prices in Northamptonshire have jumped by 9.1 per cent in the past year.

Apparently locations across the middle of England, not just Northamptonshire, are experiencing a ‘mini-boom’. Counties singled out for comment include Norfolk (where prices are up 7.4 per cent on last year) and Nottinghamshire (7.0 per cent).

Despite these rises, prices in these counties remain much lower than in London where, although the rise over the past year was only 1.6 per cent, the average asking price for a home is more than £629,000.

So, what does it all mean for Larkfleet home buyers? Well, rising prices is good news, we guess, if you already have a house on our latest developments in places such as Corby in Northamptonshire. And maybe they are a bit of a ‘wake-up call’ if you haven’t yet bought.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Larkfleet Homes parent in line for major skills award

Bourne-based housing and development organisation The Larkfleet Group of Companies (www.larkfleetgroup.co.uk), parent company of Larkfleet Homes, has been shortlisted for one of the construction industry’s most prestigious awards.

The group is one of just eight firms nationwide to win through to the final of the ‘Skills Initiative’ category in the Building Awards (http://www.building-awards.com/building-awards-2017-shortlist/).

The judges have been impressed by Larkfleet’s support for a number of training initiatives. These include not just its own apprenticeship and graduate recruitment programmes but also its backing for local colleges and schools and its sponsorship of the Greater Peterborough University Technical College (GPUTC).

Photo caption: Students at GPUTC working with the model house
donated by the Larkfleet Group of Companies.

GPUTC is based in a £12 million state-of-the-art building that opened in September 2016 in the centre of Peterborough. It focuses on engineering and the built environment, providing courses for 14 – 19 year olds, and aims to educate the city’s future engineers, designers, architects and construction specialists.

Larkfleet has been involved with GPUTC since before the first plans were drawn up and group CEO Karl Hick sits on the school’s board of governors.

Steve Warburton, principal and CEO of GPUTC, says: “Larkfleet’s support is invaluable to our students. The company is assisting us to provide real hands-on experience of industry that helps to prepare students for the world of work.”

Combining academic study, vocational training and practical work experience, GPUTC delivers education based on ‘learning by doing’. It guarantees all its graduates a job interview with one or more of its industry sponsors at the end of their time at the school.

High standards reflecting workplace practices are the norm. Expectations of attendance, punctuality and conduct reflect those in the best of workplaces.

To assist with students’ learning, Larkfleet has given GPUTC a scale model of a typical timber-framed house built by Larkfleet Homes which can be taken apart and re-assembled using a set of drawings which Larkfleet has also supplied.

The model helps the school’s students studying the built environment to understand how a modern house is put together as well as getting to grips with topics such as architectural design and planning.

The model house has proved to be such a success at GPUTC that a similar one has now been produced for New College Stamford – one of several other colleges with which Larkfleet has developed relationships.

Larkfleet is working with younger age groups in schools as well. It recently hosted a visit by year five and six pupils from Cottesmore Millfield Academy at its building site in Oakham during which the youngsters interviewed staff about careers in the construction industry.

Karl Hick says: “Investing in the future of the construction industry by supporting local young people in their training and development has always been part of Larkfleet’s ethos.

“Continuous investment in training is essential for the future of this industry. Construction and home building are becoming high-tech operations. The industry will increasingly require more of the brightest and best young people in all trades and professions.

“The type of people we will need to support successful housebuilding in the future will range from ‘hands-on’ craft and trades people for our construction sites to engineers, scientists and technicians who will shape the industry’s future in research and development laboratories.

“We believe housebuilders must invest in training and provide young people with the skills that will shape the future for the UK construction industry. Otherwise the industry has no future.”

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Thanks for a record year

Thanks to our fantastic customers, Larkfleet Homes has just completed a record year.

In the twelve months to the end of June 2017 the company built 399 homes, an 83 per cent increase on the previous year. Financial turnover was almost £80 million for the year, up from £49 million in 2016.

Larkfleet building new homes

The figures include results from both our brands – Larkfleet Homes which builds timber-framed homes and Allison Homes which builds traditional ‘brick and block’ constructed homes.

The core of our activity is still in Peterborough, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland. However, we have recently launched subsidiaries in Scotland, the South West of England and in Norfolk & Suffolk – extending our reach across most of mainland Britain.

We are hoping for even better results this year. The new South West England operation which sold 20 homes last year plans to sell more than twice that number this year. Other parts of the company are also expected to substantially increase sales.

Larkfleet recently secured a £35 million loan from Cheyne Capital Management to finance our expansion plans. The loan will enable us to expand the company’s operations and invest in existing and new sites.

Larkfleet is already one of the UK’s top 50 housebuilders and this funding will allow us to grow even more.

Karl Hick, CEO of Larkfleet Homes, said: “The house building industry has been through some difficult years recently. However, I am pleased to say that Larkfleet weathered the storms of the recession and we are rapidly expanding our activities.

“We are now building more houses on more sites than ever before.

“In all the places where we are active we are delivering high quality and energy-efficient new homes that will enable people to ‘get a foot on the property ladder’ and help to tackle the nation’s housing crisis.”

And we couldn’t do any of this without the people who have bought our new homes. We are very grateful for your support.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Spurs top of Premier league – for house prices

New research from Halifax shows that Tottenham Hotspur is top of the league when it comes to house price growth. "Watch us rise" seems particularly good as a slogan!

Halifax looked at house prices of properties near the grounds of all 49 football clubs that have played in the Premier League since 1992 over the past 20 years to see which areas had done best and worst in terms of price growth.

The research found that, since 1997, the average home value in the postal district surrounding Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium has risen over seven and a half times (655 per cent), from around £60,000 in 1997 to more than £450,00 now.

Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said: “As we welcome the 26th Premier League season, it appears that success on the field has rubbed off on property prices in the areas surrounding the grounds of many of the nation’s top flight clubs.

“In the last 20 years, average house prices immediately outside some of the country’s top clubs have seen rises that far outstrip the country as a whole, with some areas also benefiting from the associated infrastructure improvements that come with clubs moving to new stadiums.”

The average house price near all 49 past and present Premier League football clubs has risen by an average of almost £244,000 (equivalent to 326 per cent). Current Premier League sides have performed better than those relegated with a rise of £234,000 (336 per cent) compared to £250,000 (320 per cent), although both outpace the average growth of £207,000 (283 per cent) for England and Wales as a whole.

West Ham United are runners up with house price growth of 611 per cent  whilst Charlton Athletic, with growth of 583 per cent, is the highest for a club no longer in the top flight (relegated 2007).

The top 20 clubs in terms of house price growth are split evenly between previous and current Premier League sides.

Last year’s Premier League champions Chelsea take the title for the most expensive area to live, with an average house price of more than £1,108,000 for homes around Stamford Bridge. North London rivals Arsenal (£763,000) and Tottenham Hotspur (£450,000) are in second and third place respectively.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

House building slowing? Not at Larkfleet!

Latest figures from the National House Building Council (NHBC) show that the number of new homes built in both the East of England and the East Midlands in the second quarter of this year – the three months from April to June – were lower than in the same three months last year.

Across the UK as a whole, 40,343 new homes were registered during this period in 2017, a marginal 1 per cent decrease on the 40,810 registered 12 months ago.

29,123 homes were registered in the private sector, representing a 7 per cent decrease on the same period a year ago (31,381), with 11,220 new homes registered in the affordable sector, a 19 per cent increase on 2016 numbers (9,429).

The continued rise in the affordable sector can be attributed to a number of larger housing associations developing homes for market rent, private sale and shared ownership along with a rise in joint ventures with the private sector.

Six out of the 12 UK regions experienced growth in registrations, when compared to the same period last year. West Midlands, Scotland and Wales were among the regions with most notable growth.

Commenting on the latest new home statistics, NHBC Business Development Director Neil Jefferson said: "New home registrations have remained stable in the second quarter of this year, with some areas of the UK seeing significant increases in registration volumes.

"With demand for housing as strong as ever, the growth seen in the affordable sector is particularly encouraging."

At Larkfleet – active mostly in the East of England and East Midlands – we’re pleased to say we are building more homes on more sites than ever before.

You can check out what we are currently doing on the development page of our website here. And you can see the full NHBC statement here.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Where to buy to avoid the bombs?

In what probably takes the prize for the worst taste publicity stunt in the housing market this year, estate agency Emoov has published a map showing the impact of nuclear weapons on the UK if the nation’s top 20 cities were targeted by missile strikes.

The move followed escalating tensions between North Korea and the USA with some ‘nuclear sabre rattling’ by both sides last week. Fortunately, the rhetoric seems to have calmed down a little this week, so we are maybe not facing nuclear apocalypse in the immediate future. And, looking on the bright side (if there is one), the UK is out of range of current North Korean missiles and is presumably not likely to be a target for American bombs.

But, going along with Emoov’s analysis, where would you buy a house to stay out of range of the missiles?

The only current Larkfleet development clear of the blasts on the Emoov map is Pinchbeck Fields near Spalding. Even our development at Bonnybank near Leven in Scotland would be affected by the anticipated missile strike on nearby Edinburgh and our developments near Taunton in the rural South West of England would be overwhelmed by the impact of a missile hitting Bristol.

So far, Emoov’s analysis has had no impact on house prices and we’ve not had a flood of enquiries in Pinchbeck from nervous citizens. But we could not resist bringing you this piece of poor-taste nonsense news. Does this make us as bad as Emoov (we rather fear that it might ….)?

If you do want to know more, Emoov appears to have removed the map from its own website in the face of a storm of criticism but you can still find the original on several news websites such as the Daily Mirror here.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Lifetime Homes

It's good to plan ahead. You're fit and healthy now but life can throw up some unwelcome surprises.

Lifetime Homes are ordinary homes designed to incorporate 16 design criteria. Each feature adds to the comfort and convenience of the home and supports the changing needs of individuals and families at different stages of life.

Lifetime housing is designed to the Lifetime Homes Standard making them suitable for most occupants, including some (but not all) wheelchair users and disabled visitors, without the need for substantial alterations.

From raising small children to coping with illness or dealing with reduced mobility in later life, Lifetime Homes make the ups and downs of daily living easier to manage.

A selection of Larkfleet Homes are built to the Lifetime Homes standard.

For more information visit www.lifetimehomes.org.uk.