One-on-one interview: Mark Knight of Keepmoat Homes Yorkshire

Posted 28 August 2014 by Keith Osborne

Marc Da Silva continues his series of interviews with leading figures in the housebuilding industry by speaking to Mark Knight, regional managing director of Keepmoat Homes Yorkshire.

Where is your firm developing new homes?
Traditionally a specialist in high-quality entry-level housing, Keepmoat has a strong presence throughout Yorkshire with developments in Sheffield, Bradford, Doncaster, Barnsley, Scarborough and Hull. Keepmoat is currently extending its presence in West Yorkshire and our strategy to target the Leeds and Wakefield areas has been successful with exciting new developments set to start before the end of the year.

What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas?
The conditions regionally are still challenging, especially in terms of affordability, credit and mortgages. This has been heightened by the recent Mortgage Market Review, but our team of highly trained Homes Sales Executives are able support customers throughout the process with a strong success rate in acquiring mortgages.

What types of properties is your firm developing?
We strive to continually improve on design and space standards for all our properties, which are predominantly two-,three- and four-bedroom homes. Traditional mews, semi and detached homes are now being complimented by coach house style flats over garages, bungalows and one- and two-bedroom apartments. In Yorkshire, we are happy to rise to the challenge of offering bespoke house types specific to individual requirements, market demand and Local Authority regulations.

What projects is Keepmoat working on and what's in the development pipeline?
We are working with a variety of local authorities, Registered Providers and the HCA, as well as private land owners to bring forward a variety of sites regionally. Our partnership with Kebbels and Scarborough Borough Council at Middle Deepdale is a particularly exciting scheme of more than 1,300 new homes. Also in the pipeline are projects at Allerton Bywater, part of the Millennium Village, and fantastic regeneration developments on former colliery sites at Frickley and Askern in collaboration with Wakefield and Doncaster Councils.

Keepmoat continues to work successfully with Sheffield Housing Company and this year look forward to starting work in the Manor area of the city. We are also bidding to become citywide Lead Developer for Hull City Council, which could lead to the creation of 2,000 homes across Hull and the East Riding.

How much does a new home by Keepmoat typically cost to buy?
Keepmoat has been known as a provider of high-quality entry level housing with prices starting from £80,000. While this remains a core part of our business, we are actively extending the range of house types available. For instance, at our flagship site at Dominion, Doncaster The Wayne, a three storey, four-bedroom home starts at £204,995 and at Brimstone, Frickley the Peridot starts at £179,995.

Why should more buyers consider buying a new build home as opposed to older property?
Warranty cover is an obvious benefit of buying a new build home, as are low maintenance costs. Energy saving features on many Keepmoat properties resulting in lower running costs. As a result, the energy bill of a household living in a three bed Victorian-era end terrace is 73% higher than someone living in an equivalent Keepmoat home. At Keepmoat we are constantly evaluating the shifting needs, changes in social behaviour and lifestyle of our customers and incorporating this into the design of new homes. As such most of our homes now feature open plan kitchens, dining and lounge areas for entertaining and easy access to gardens for outdoor living.

Is it worth buying property during the off-plan stage of construction?
We encourage our customers to buy off-plan so they can benefit from having the ‘pick of the plots' and the opportunity to customise their homes with additions to the standard specification. Strategies in place to support this are the Early Bird Scheme, which allows customers to secure plots prior to build and release, and the Easy Key Scheme, which supports those customers who have a property to sell.

What is Keepmoat's USP?
Keepmoat specialises in creating great places for people to live, work and play. We work closely with our partners to create communities. As a leading residential regeneration and new-build group, we pride ourselves on delivering innovative schemes, developing long-term client partnerships, and adding value to those we work with. Whether we're providing quality new build homes, community regeneration, responsive maintenance and repairs, retirement solutions or sustainability projects, we are committed to offering the best service possible for all our customers across the country.

Which of the developments Keepmoat is currently developing do you think stands the best chance of winning a WhatHouse? Award?
The project that we will be submitting is the Sheffield Housing Company joint venture with Sheffield City Council to deliver 2,300 new build homes for sale and rent across the city. The homes are built to the highest standards of energy efficiency with a number of homes reaching carbon neutral Code 6 now complete and available for sale. In addition, all the homes will reach the Lifetime Homes standard, making adaptations easier to allow people to remain living independently for as long as possible. This has also been a particularly successful example of how we work closely with local training and employment agencies to create apprenticeships and up-skill people in the communities where we operate.

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