Housebuilder Prioritising Sustainability And Social Value

Posted 11 June 2021 by Lizzie Leigh

CALA Homes has created a team and set out a brand new strategy on developments and building homes...

We talk to Alison Deakin, sales and marketing director for CALA Homes Thames about how the housebuilder is on a mission to create sustainability and social value.

Alison, tell us about your main responsibilities in your role?

As regional sales and marketing director for CALA’s Thames region, I’m responsible for delivering the sales and marketing strategy for CALA developments across Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey.

As part of their eco-credentials, CALA has just established ten Green Teams, what do these aim to achieve?

Across the UK, CALA's teams are implementing the rollout of our Sustainability Strategy, which will see each of the business divisions play a more significant role in creating an environmentally responsible future.

Sustainability has been a focus area at CALA for some time and we have already taken steps to begin lowering our environmental impact. We are now working towards our targets of building homes that are operationally net carbon zero from 2030 and reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of the UK government's 2050 target.

To achieve this, internal working groups have been formed to look at the tangible ways that CALA can decarbonise its operations. Our roadmap includes exciting research and testing of various innovations and technologies. We’re also working with utility providers to inform discussions around the decarbonisation of the grid.

Most recently, we’ve appointed two new sustainability analysts who will be producing detailed reports and modelling various scenario home builds, with an initial focus on improving air quality and water consumption within CALA homes.

Another example of our strategy in action is the creation of our Green Teams in all ten of CALA's head offices. These teams are brainstorming, researching and implementing initiatives helping to bring about positive change at a local level. They’re looking at everything from energy saving and recycling measures within offices, to employee wellbeing and meaningful local community support initiatives.

Buckler’s ParkBuckler’s Park

Another area of the Group’s work is around social value, what do you mean by that?

Social value at CALA encompasses the environmental, social and economic impact of our business and operations. We’ve always been passionate about creating vibrant and sustainable communities, ensuring we build in a responsible way and that our developments become part of the communities in which they are built.

Our annual Community Bursary is an example of this and has seen us support over 400 local causes with funding over the past few years. This year, across the Thames region, our Bursary recipients include Hampshire Search & Rescue, Liss Infant School, SeeAbility Aldershot, Treloar Trust, Thomas Morley Trust, and the Wessex Children’s Hospice Trust. It's been a really impactful initiative and one which everyone at CALA is really proud of.

Another element of this was our corporate charity partnership with The Prince’s Trust, which saw us help local young people develop new skills on our sites, including through an apprenticeship initiative which ran at our Kings Barton development in Winchester. We’re now working with Samaritans to support improvements to local branches and, as well as making corporate donations to the charity, CALA employees across the business take part in individual and team fundraising activities. In turn, Samaritans help equip our staff and subcontractors with listening and emotional resilience training.

The CALA Group operates throughout Scotland, the Midlands, and the South East of England; where have the top performers been during the last 12 months?

2020 was a very challenging year for everyone. Our sites and sales offices shut for three months, which certainly impacted sales. However, our teams reacted and adapted quickly, and after our sites re-opened we benefitted from a surge in demand from buyers wanting to move out of the city and closer to town and country. With working from home being a key driver, the location of our developments across the Thames region were well placed to match this new trend.

St Peter’s QuarterSt Peter’s Quarter

Which schemes are you promoting at the moment?

We recently launched a selection of three-, four- and five-bedroom homes in St Peter’s Quarter in Chertsey, Surrey, with its picturesque village setting on the River Thames.

We’re also excited about another brand-new development, Southwood Mews at Farnborough, which offers a selection of two-, three- and four-bedroom homes. Suited to first-time buyers and families, it’s a vibrant location in the town, with close proximity to both transport links and woodland walks.

A collection of apartments and houses are due to launch at Buckler’s Park in Crowthorne – these homes are really quite unique, as they’re within walking distance from a new 100-acre country park, community garden and neighbourhood centre.

Are you offering buyers any particular incentives at these developments?

We offer a number of incentives across our developments at CALA in order to make the buying process as easy as possible.

A popular choice for existing homeowners is our Part Exchange service, which streamlines the buying process, gives certainty of a chain-free move, and doesn’t incur any estate agent fees.

CALA acts as a cash buyer in the process, so you don't have to worry about being let down at the last moment in a chain. It’s proved really helpful for buyers over the past year, often allowing them to progress faster in a busy market.

And for buyers who’ve served in the Armed Forces, we also offer an Armed Forces Discount.

Southwood MewsSouthwood Mews

And what else is in the pipeline for CALA over the coming months?

CALA Thames has an exciting year ahead with a number of new developments launching across our region.

Coming up in July, we’re delighted to be launching Haycroft in the quaint village of Crondall, Hampshire, made up of a selection of two, three and four-bedroom, semi-detached family homes.

Later in October we’ll be launching the next phase of family homes at our Kings Barton development, set just a short walk away from Winchester city centre.

What’s your prediction for the national property market as we look towards coming out of COVID restrictions this summer?

We’re certainly experiencing buoyancy in the property market at the moment, for a number of reasons linked to the pandemic.

The introduction of government-led incentives, such as the Stamp Duty holiday, has created a real saving on home-buying and opened up larger homes to people who may have been previously reluctant to move.

With high-quality developments being built in semi-rural locations across the country, which meet buyers’ needs, along with providing extra incentive schemes to facilitate purchasing, we’re doing all we can to help more buyers find their dream homes.

And finally, what would your number one piece of advice be to a first-time buyer in the current climate?

The second-hand market at the moment is incredibly pressurised. It can be very hard to find and secure the home you want without getting into stressful ‘bidding wars’ – as well as being faced with a lot of potential works when you move in, to really make it a home you’re proud of. And that’s especially the case for first-time buyers.

Those moving into their first homes often think that they’re being ‘priced out’ of certain locations, but they might not be fully aware of all of the help and incentives available to them from housebuilders or the government.

The incentives on offer with new homes, such as Help to Buy, are designed to get you on the property ladder in a well-designed home, offering you everything you need: high-quality fittings, brand new appliances and great locations.

I would recommend to any first-time buyers that they should do plenty of research on the incentives and support available to them; whether that be through Help to Buy, deposit-paid schemes, assistance with legal fees, or free independent advice on what they might be able to afford.

If anyone has any questions, they can call our sales team at any CALA development. Our teams are highly experienced and have helped hundreds of first-time buyers move into their dream homes. They can talk to you about the help on offer from CALA or put you in touch with an independent financial advisor for free further advice and assistance.


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