Despite the predicted widespread national economic pressures as a result of the Covid pandemic, the land promotion sector has been boosted by the housing market, which was bolstered by the stamp duty holiday and the unprecedented demand for new homes following the ending of the lockdowns.
This resulted in a record 12 months for Catesby Estates under the leadership of Chief Executive, Myron Osborne in his first full year in the role. The business delivered a record pre-tax profit of £13.4m.
The Catesby business was in a strong position entering the financial year as a result of a number of outline consents granted at virtual planning committees. This resulted in the business being well placed to take advantage of housebuilder land requirements with a number of sites ready for immediate sale.
Catesby disposed of 8 sites to both SME and volume housebuilders, totalling 213 gross acres, with outline planning consent obtained for 1,527 new homes, with a total gross land value of £127m.
The acquisition of Catesby’s parent company, Urban&Civic by the Wellcome Trust in January 2021, consolidated the position of Urban&Civic as the leading Master Developer in the UK, and further strengthened the already substantial financial backing of Catesby.
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 housebuilder customers is £350 reflecting the continued high demand in these areas. This is highlighted in the sale of a 110 homes site to Taylor Wimpey in East Horsley, Surrey, where the average house price is in excess of £1.2m.
Recent sale successes, places increased emphasis on the land teams to replenish Catesby’s land promotion portfolio, to ensure a strong pipeline of unconsented sites to promote moving forward. Catesby continues to work closely with agents and landowners, and has secured a further 9 new land sites, totalling 695 gross acres and 3,073 homes.
The wealth of experience within the senior management team has allowed Catesby to keep a strong focus on the core business strategy, with the development of a future sales pipeline for 2021/2022 totalling 7 sites, 220 gross acres and 1,267 homes, with agreements to sell some sites already in place.
Future business risk will be minimised by continually evolving the planning and community engagement strategies to promote sites through the Local Plan process, seeking allocations and gaining consents at a local level where possible.
The Planning environment remains challenging, with new hurdles coming down the track via the emerging Environmental Bill and expected reforms to the National Planning Policy Framework. As we enter the halfway stage in this Parliament, there will be an inevitable acceleration in political influence as we move towards the next General Election. However, the Catesby business model remains resilient and through our careful approach to site selection, these issues have been accounted for moving forward, ensuring we can respond to any changes and quickly adapt our approach to overcome these challenges.
Virtual public consultations have taken place during the last year, and elements of this look set to remain for the foreseeable future, supplemented with smaller in person meetings and the more traditional consultation techniques.
Catesby undertook 5 virtual consultations totalling 712 homes and 1,145 gross acres which either have outline planning applications submitted or are about to undergo submission.
At Catesby’s infrastructure delivery and land promotion site Myton Green, Warwick, all four housebuilders are onsite with over 140 residents in occupation. The 25 acres of public open space, including 6 equipped play areas has been adopted by Warwickshire District Council, and the wider A452 Europa Way corridor infrastructure works are due to complete imminently ending involvement in this 735 home site.
A planned relocation of the head office from Warwick to Rugby is set to take place spring 2022. The new office will provide increased space and facilities to support the next phase of growth for the Catesby business.
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