Our customers expect an outstanding product and service. We monitor emerging market trends to develop our portfolio in response to demand, and also carry out research with occupiers to continually improve what we offer.
With house price inflation staying ahead of wage growth, affordability remains a challenge for prospective buyers, the UK economy and the industry as a whole. The government-backed Help to Buy shared equity scheme has played an important role in helping, primarily, first-time buyers onto the property ladder, providing access to more affordable mortgages and in turn supporting much-needed housing delivery.
In addition to helping first-time buyers onto the property ladder, we have developed our offering in the private rental sector (PRS), partnering with M&G and other investors.
We know that achieving the highest possible satisfaction rating depends on delivering well–built, well-designed homes and a great customer experience overall. We are disappointed that we received a 4-star rating this year in the Home Builders Federation customer satisfaction survey – a result influenced by recent supply chain pressures, which led to some delays in delivering timely handovers to customers. While we recognise that the 2-3% decline in our overall customer satisfaction score is slight, we are determined to regain our 5-star status.
We are working hard to maintain and raise customer satisfaction levels. For example, customer service performance is a metric within the bonus schemes across our business, including for Executive Directors. We have also strengthened our quality assurance processes, including specifying a standard above the industry norm for paintwork, and have improved our Quality Manual so it clearly sets out the standards we expect of our subcontractors.
We understand what buying a new home means for our customers and aim to really help them through the process with excellent service, support and aftercare.
Our customers can raise any issues with us at any stage of the process through a dedicated phone service manned 24 hours a day.
Good masterplanning reflects local needs and priorities, and we go to great lengths to communicate a vision and take on board feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, consulting with local people and interest groups at key stages during the pre-planning process.
Over the past few years the concept of ‘localism’ has grown in importance. This was thrust into public policy with the introduction of the Localism Act in 2011, which set out a series of measures to shift more decision-making away from central government to local councils and people.
Part of the Act was the introduction of Neighbourhood Plans, which allow communities to come together through a local parish council or neighbourhood form to say where they think new houses, businesses and shops should go and what they should look like.
If taken onboard in the right way, Neighbourhood Plans are an exciting and useful tool to developers. It gives us clear guidance from the local community as to the types of homes and developments they want to see. Crest Nicholson has already embraced this opportunity by participating in the Henley-on-Thames & Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan at a site in Henley-on-Thames where there is an opportunity to bring forward 190 homes.
We are transforming land at Melior Street in south-east London into a mixed-used community of 37 new homes – nine of which will be affordable - together with shops and restaurants.
The freehold has belonged to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Southwark since the 19th century and the plan for the development includes a church, a community hall, and new set of premises for the Church’s existing Manna Centre for homeless people.
This complex project had many vocal stakeholders, all passionate about their local area. But, by adopting a transparent and co-operative approach with local authorities and the community throughout the planning process, we were able to incorporate numerous features that met local needs and reflected the tight-knit community feel of the area, including new medical facilities.
Construction of this new development began in 2015.