The benefits of working with SME housebuilders


Homes England, Savills and master developer Urban&Civic brought a group of SME housebuilders from across the Midlands and South together on 17 May, to promote their role in addressing housing need and increase the diversity of delivery on large-scale developments.

Hosted by Urban&Civic at its 1200 acre Rugby site, Houlton, the event saw small and medium housebuilders gather to hear how both the public and private sectors recognise the vital role of SMEs in delivering the government’s target of 300,000 new homes.

National property agents Savills opened the event, setting the scene with the broad housing market and delivery context focusing particularly on the challenges and the opportunities faced by the sector.

Homes England set out its clear support, via the Home Building Fund, which is responding to the constraints within the SME sector by providing targeted development finance. The agency also outlined how it has increased its flexibility on land disposal of sites delivering less than 50 units to increase delivery by SMEs. 

Urban&Civic presented its national portfolio of large-scale sites, its delivery model and how its approach to providing service land parcels is reducing barriers to entry for SMEs on its large-scale sites, which was then followed by an open top bus tour of Houlton.

Robin Butler, Managing Director for Urban&Civic speaking at the event said; “The successful creation of settlements of strategic scale demands the skills and resources from across the spectrum of housebuilders. Increasing participation from SME builders is an absolute priority for U&C, allowing us to drive both housing delivery rates and quality. Homes England’s combination of accelerated infrastructure funding and direct assistance to the SME builders is providing demonstrable impetus to this imperative.”

Family owned company, Francis Jackson Homes, are already on site at U&C-owned Priors Hall in Corby. Managing Director Nick Jackson attended the event and said; “Access to land and finance continue to be the main constraints faced in the market for many SME builders and it is encouraging to see U&C and Homes England addressing that. The U&C model de-risks land and provides a really strong development platform for us to deliver our high quality product alongside national house builders. Combined with the injection of cash through Homes England to accelerate infrastructure on these sites, we are collectively creating really attractive and popular places to live.”

Patrick Eve, Director at Savills said; “Delivery of housing is a key challenge for the Government, and with the current model it is difficult to see how their target will be met. However, support from Homes England and the ability for SMEs to develop on large-scale developments such as Houlton will certainly increase the supply. The event on Friday was a great opportunity to introduce SMEs to the opportunities provided by developers such as Urban&Civic, as well as the support available from Homes England.”

Stuart Dawkins, Head of Small Businesses at Homes England said: “We are committed to investigating ways of accelerating housing delivery, and create a more resilient market by supporting SME businesses and new entrants. With the availability of land identified as a major constraint to housing delivery, we strongly support Urban&Civic’s Master Developer model, allowing smaller businesses access to developable land in a more affordable structure. The event held at Houlton gave U&C the ability to showcase what is possible for SMEs on larger sites, giving local developers the chance to deliver better quality housing”.