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Sustainability Is Key For Housebuilder

Posted 19 May 2023 by Lizzie Leigh

Paul Drysdale, safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) director of Story Homes, tells us why sustainability is key…

We hear from Paul Drysdale of Story Homes, how climate changes will affect design, construction, location, cost and operation of all new homes in the coming years

Paul, have you always worked in the property industry?

I have worked in health and safety for over 20 years, across multiple industries operating in a number of countries. The key industries and risk areas include road risk, financial services, public sector outsourcing and army recruitment. I have worked in the construction and housebuilding industry for the last eight years.

Your role as  safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) director encompasses a lot! How do you tend to prioritise each area on a day-to-day basis?

As you can imagine the priorities of the team can vary depending on the operating region, site or even day of the week. The key to ensuring all areas of SHEQ are fairly represented and serviced is the development of a solid strategy, finding the balance between achieving our strategic aims and managing the operational challenges that come in on a day-to-day basis.

Can you tell us about the quality scores of the new homes you build at Story Homes?

We were delighted to recently be once again awarded a five-star customer satisfaction rating by the HBF, with more than 9 in 10 customers recommending us to a friend. In addition, we achieved a ‘Gold’ rating for customer service from ‘In-house’ after 94% of customers said they would recommend us. The quality score that we are perhaps most proud of is our Trustpilot rating which is currently 4.8 stars; this is an industry leading score and is the highest TrustScore in the ‘Home Builder’ category on Trustpilot.

These accolades reflect our ongoing commitment to providing the highest level of service and communication to our customers and are a result of the hard work and passion shown by everyone at Story Homes – in designing a great product, building homes that people aspire to live in and always trying to do the right thing for our customers.

Is there one aspect of the role that takes up most of your time or do all areas tend to complement each other?

Quality and safety go hand in hand. There are synergies between the four elements of SHEQ but environment and the sustainability agenda is high on the list of priorities at the moment, increasingly taking up more of my team’s time; this is of course across all industries rather not just housebuilding and is extremely important if we are to build communities that are sustainable for generations to come.

Do you think the current green/sustainable agenda in housebuilding goes far enough, or could more be done by developers?

Developers like us are striving to meet the various targets and legislative requirements. One of the main challenges facing the housebuilding sector is the immediate need to respond to climate change, both to cope with its ongoing effects and to reduce carbon emissions; this is not helped by an impractical policy framework for environmental sustainability coupled with a lack of co-ordination between government and the industry.

The government has a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. With the domestic sector accounting for around a quarter of the UK's carbon emissions, and the built environment overall responsible for nearly half, it’s clear that we will need to drastically adjust the way we design, build and expect customers to use their homes, as well as modify the way we live. Adapting to the changing climate will have an impact on the design, construction, location, cost and operation of all new homes over the coming years.

Oakleigh Fields (Story Homes)

What is the single most environmentally-friendly step that Story Homes has taken when building new properties in the last five years?

Rather than a single step, our business takes a holistic approach to sustainability. Responsible building techniques are used to minimise the impact on the environment and ensure we’re adding to the community rather than taking away from it. ‘Sustainable Story’ is our commitment to building greener communities, operating as a responsible business and placing people at the heart of everything we do.

We are committed to reducing energy, water and waste in our homes, on our sites and in our offices and 100% of waste from our sites is diverted from landfill. All lighting in our homes is energy efficient and sustainably sourced timber is used throughout the build.

We endeavour to maintain the favourable conservation status of protected species and enhance the biodiversity value of our developments; landscaping, tree planting, shrubs and sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) are incorporated into our developments to encourage local wildlife to thrive.

Can you tell us about the particular schemes you’re focusing on at the moment, and what new schemes are in the pipeline over the next 12 months or so?

We have a very strong land pipeline across the Story Homes Group which is thanks to our experienced team, solid processes and the design of our schemes and homes.

In Cumbria and Scotland, our St Andrew’s Gardens development in Thursby (Cumbria) will start in June and we have continuity phases planned for Brigsteer Rise (Kendal), Edgehill Park (Whitehaven, Cumbria) and Summerpark (Dumfries). In the North East we have recently completed the purchase of three new development sites in Durham, Eaglescliffe and Darlington, which will see the delivery of 635 homes. The three projects are valued in excess of £187m, representing investment in excess of £133m. In the North West our plan is to secure one site per quarter for the next three years, giving us a steady delivery of opportunities up until FY26, and this month we’ll begin on site at our first development in the Cheshire area, Fulshaw Manor (Wilmslow) which we’re very excited about.

Story Homes builds in Cumbria, the North West, North East and in Scotland, is any one of those regions outperforming the others?

Each of our regions are performing really well and as mentioned, we have a very healthy land pipeline of developments right across the north. Demand for our homes remains strong and our sales rate in the last quarter has been excellent.

What do you think will be the next big thing in environmentally sustainable house building that we’ll see in new homes over the next 10 years?

It’s difficult to predict the future as technology is changing at such a rapid pace these days, and materials are being introduced to market that assist with the drive for energy efficiency. Putting that aside I do believe if the government can work more collaboratively with the industry on policy along with practical, pragmatic solutions then this will be a huge step forward.


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