One-to-one interview: John Harriss, managing director of Harriss Property

Posted 16 July 2015 by Marc Da Silva

Marc Da Silva continues his ongoing series of interviews with senior figures in the UK property industry by turning to Kent and the South East to pose the questions to John Harriss, the man in charge of Harriss Property.

What types of homes is your firm developing? 

We develop private residential homes for sale and are currently working on two particular developments at the moment – both are located in Kent.

The Beach Houses are made up of 11 contemporary beachfront homes in Margate with uninterrupted views over the English Channel. Designed by award-winning Architect Guy Hollaway of Guy Hollaway Architects, the homes are a modern reinterpretation of the iconic English ‘beach-hut’ typology.  The houses have launched to market and we are currently on site and on target for completion in early autumn of this year.

The Bread Factory is the conversion of the Grade II listed former Hovis flour mill, in the centre of Ramsgate, into a mix of 89 contemporary one-, two-, three- and four-bedroomed apartments and houses. 

The development is spread over four phases; accommodation is provided in both the remodelled original listed building and the new build elements, which have been carefully designed to complement the existing architecture and character of the mill. 

The homes are set within a secure development and are perfect for modern, flexible, open-plan living that is both commutable to London and at a walking distance from the sea.

How much does a new home by Harriss Property typically cost to buy?

We purposefully have a very mixed offering so we can meet the needs of different family structures; their requirements in terms of number of rooms and space as well as budgets.

The Beach Houses start at £395,000 while The Bread Factory homes start at £130,000.

What’s your property market prediction for the rest of 2015?

There are so many different factors beyond our control that could alter any prediction. We as developers monitor our own performance and that of our client base. With producing a varied range of properties we are covering most demands; from the first-time buyer to the seasoned professional and the retirees looking to downsize. We are confident that with a positive supply of mortgages both for individuals and buy-to-let, the property market will continue to steadily grow for both developers and those looking at starting and progressing with home ownership.  

In light of the existing housing shortage in this country, what needs to be done to boost the supply of new homes? 

The planning system is too slow and requires a more simplified process. Our relationship with planners has always been one which appreciates that there are guidelines to follow and must be adhered to, but unfortunately it is the legal agreements that cause the delays, even once the permission’s have been agreed between developer and planners the legal completion can stretch on for months afterwards.  

Why should more buyers consider purchasing a new build home as opposed to a resale property?

Purchasing a new home in our view is down to preference. Our experience with clients is that the feeling of walking into your new home is like buying a new car, it is fresh, shiny and there has often been an opportunity to add their own little touch to the specification.

The property market relies just as much on resale as it does on new build so from our prospective all types of homeownership is encouraged.

Which of the developments Harriss Property is currently developing do you think stands the best chance of winning a WhatHouse? Award? 

The Beach Houses, designed by Guy Hollaway Architects, are design-led contemporary homes located along an incredible beachfront. The exterior of the homes boast a simple and contemporary material and extensive floor-to-ceiling glazing the balconies on both ground and first floor levels allow the owner to enjoy unrivalled views – which is what we wanted the focus to be on!

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