David Bullock is regional director for Kier Living Wales and West. Here, David reflects on the first 12 months and looks forward to what’s in store in the next year.
“Often when we begin something new, we start with a focus and desire to do more, to make a difference. This is exactly what we have tried to achieve in Wales and West as we try to build on the strategic objective to deliver more housing to parts of the UK that need it most.
My focus since joining the region as Regional Director has been to get the foundations right. To do this we started by bringing together a dedicated and experienced team, and spent time instilling the core Kier ethos of quality and safety. We’ve also developed and nurtured relationships, with a focus on joint venture agreements with local authorities, housing associations and private landowners that can help deliver what each location needs.
It is easy to view this industry as one of mere ‘bricks and mortar’, but the reality, of course, is quite different. Behind the headlines of housing supply and affordability issues are real people looking for a place to call home. We have an opportunity to impact lives, to shape places that enhance the day to day and create communities that are a pleasure to come back to at night. Not many people have the chance to make a difference on quite that scale.
Areas such as Cardiff, Newport, Hengrove and South West Bristol are key. Bristol, for example, is estimated to need an extra 16,228 affordable homes by 2036 – that’s 811 every year. Meanwhile the local council has suggested that Cardiff is building just half the number of homes it needs to cope with its growth. We’re working with our partners, not just to provide that housing but also to secure job and apprenticeship opportunities for local people.
Developments we are currently constructing include a 267-home project in Lisvane, Cardiff, a 70-home ‘traditional village’ development in Dinas Powys and a 261-home urban development in Hengrove, Bristol, which we hope will start to help address the need for quality housing in the region. We also have developments in the pipeline including a site in Cwmbran and Cardiff.
However, as much as this is an area of need, it is also one of opportunity.
This is particularly true of the South East corner of Wales – namely Torfaen, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire and Newport. The recent abolition of the Severn Bridge tolls has opened up the area and made it prime Bristol commuter belt territory. Areas such as these are well connected both by car and rail and offer a more affordable option to Bristol itself, despite Welsh market price rises of up to 14%.
It was all of this that I reflected on as I contemplated the last year.
We are not just housebuilders, we are homemakers - a key part of making the dream of ownership, a shorter commute, a better community, closer and more realistic. The foundations for this in our Wales & West region are now in place and as I look forward to helping individuals, couples and families achieve their aims of owning a house they are proud to call ‘home’.”