One-on-one: Claire Davidson, Charles Church Midlands
This week’s continuation of our ongoing series of interviews with senior figures from the UK’s new homes industry heads to the Midlands and puts some questions to Claire Davidson, head of sales for Charles Church Midlands.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your division of Charles Church Developments
As head of sales, I am responsible for Charles Church developments across Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Oxfordshire. I’ve worked for the Persimmon Group more than 17 years and seen huge growth in the business over that time.
How has the Midlands property market been performing?
Last year was our most successful to date, with 614 completions, and 2016 looks to be even stronger. Economic stability in the region and the availability of mortgages is enabling Charles Church to continue to attract buyers.
What kind of developments are you currently working on and what are your "star" sites right now?
We have recently opened two new sites – The Hamlet at Roade and Roman Court in Old Stratford – and both have been very well received by purchasers. The Hamlet is the redevelopment of a former Pianoforte factory site, so is breathing new life into the location. Jubilee Gardens continues to appeal to buyers keen to enjoy village life in Wootton, and The Glebe at Brackley has been a runaway success since it launched last summer. We expect to sell out here in the next few months.
Are schemes such as Help to Buy and Part Exchange important to your buyers?
Help to Buy has certainly made a huge difference to buyers who couldn’t raise bigger deposits, and Part Exchange is a lifeline to those who need to sell their existing property. We also have our Home Change package, where we help to market the buyer’s old house. This is particularly effective when used in conjunction with Help to Buy.
What sort of specification can buyers expect from a Charles Church property?
Although best known for its traditional house styles, today’s Charles Church homes include contemporary design features and a range of ‘Select’ options to enable buyers to tailor their home to suit their taste. These include upgraded kitchens and bathrooms, additional fitted wardrobes or wooden flooring.
Customer service is important, especially to those buying for the first time - is yours well received?
We work especially hard to help first-time buyers, taking time to explain every step of the buying process. Customer feedback shows us that this is appreciated.
Have you found customer expectations for homes and service have changed much in recent years?
I think customer expectation has risen across all sectors. These days, people demand high quality and good service and will hold companies to account if this is not delivered. The housebuilding industry is no different.
Is there any type of development or property type you wish you could build more of?
We are really lucky within the Persimmon Group that we build such a wide range of developments and house types. With the Persimmon brand we have a number of large sites such as the very successful redevelopment of the Princess Marina Hospital in Northampton, and with Charles Church we can develop smaller, more exclusive schemes.
Our Home Farm location in Cranfield is a great example of the variety of property types we build – the street scene here offers a mix of brick, render, different roof lines and heights. The combination makes a lovely established community atmosphere.
What developments are in the pipeline for this year that buyers could register their interest in?
Hartwell Manor is a highly-anticipated Charles Church development of just 47 four-bedroom homes coming to Cranfield in Bedfordshire. This is a superb location, convenient for Milton Keynes and Bedford as well as the renowned Cranfield University, so we expect the properties to be snapped up as soon as they are released for sale.