Managing Director Peter Blades

Celebrating Five Years of Deanfield Homes

March 2, 2022In News8 Minutes

This month sees Deanfield Homes celebrate its fifth anniversary since the acquisition of it’s first development site. We caught up with founder and Managing Director Peter Blades on the company’s journey to date, the future plans for the business and what sets Deanfield apart from the competition.

What led you to set up Deanfield Homes in 2017?

Creating and leading a new housebuilding business was something I had aspired to do for many years. By 2017, I had worked in the housebuilding industry for over 25 years and held senior roles within larger, multi-region housebuilders.

However, the reality was that the more senior I became, the further I moved away from the day-to-day aspects of the job that I really love. The time therefore felt right to break out of the corporate mould and do something different. Once I had made that decision, I was fortunate enough to secure an experienced investor, the Prowting Group, who have helped at every step of the way to ensure the concept of Deanfield Homes became a reality.

What was your original vision for the business?

At the time that Deanfield Homes was founded, I felt there was a gap in the market for a housebuilder which focused on developments of between 20 and 50 homes – sites that were too large for small builders but too small for volume housebuilders. I always had a very clear idea of what a ‘Deanfield location’ would look like – sustainable, desirable, well-established villages across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire.

The reality is that many new SME housebuilders were being created at a similar time with similar concepts, however, we held our own and manged to secure some amazing development sites. Some smaller and some larger than the original vision, but all in desirable and sustainable villages in keeping with the definition of a Deanfield location.

Customer satisfaction was also always going to be a major focus – delivering a great customer experience from start to finish makes good business sense for Deanfield and creates obvious benefits to all our customers.  A real win-win!

I also wanted Deanfield to be a trusted business that delivers on its promises, whether that be to a customer, a subcontractor a landowner or a land agent. One of the reasons that we secured our very first site in a competitive market was because the landowner and the agents knew of our team from a transaction over a decade earlier.  We delivered on our promises then and they trusted we would deliver on our promises again, which of course we did and continue to do.

What have been the key achievements over the last five years?

Securing our very first site in such a prime location was obviously a significant milestone and launched the business in the right way. From there, we have built a brand that is now gaining recognition for quality design and customer satisfaction.

We have achieved significant growth over the last five years, despite the challenges of Brexit and a global pandemic. We have launched eight developments, built a great team of nearly 30 people and are now investing in a move to larger premises for the next stage of our journey.

Above all, I think it’s our culture that I’m most proud of and what I believe really sets us apart. We take genuine pride in the homes we build and take care in the locations in which we operate. Ultimately, the whole team get a real buzz from our customer engagement and the legacy of the developments we are creating.

What are your future aspirations and goals for Deanfield?

We aim to be consistently delivering at least 150 homes per year within the next three years whilst still focusing on aspirational locations and delivering a quality product and service. We have continued strong financial backing from the Prowting Group and our banking partners and will be an active player in the regional land market as we build a strong pipeline of sites to fuel that growth.

What do you see as the critical factors for success?

Maintaining our culture and continuing to build a great team who are committed, energetic and want to help shape the business as we grow.

Continued strong relationships with our investors and banking partners will be key, as will maintaining strong housing association and subcontractor partnerships, treating our supply chain well and providing them with the security of long-term repeat business.

From a land perspective it will be about staying true to our strategy of building the right product in the right location. If we continue to achieve this, the quality of our homes and the desirable location of our sites will ensure there is always a market for our developments.

The planning environment does remain a real concern. A lack of resource within local government is leading to significant delays in planning decisions. This, combined with often onerous pre-commencement conditions, can have a huge impact on all housebuilders but particularly the SME sector, where acquiring and holding sites for a considerable period of time while planning issues are being resolved can create a funding constraint.

How do you see the way we live in our homes influencing future design?

A more flexible approach to working is undoubtedly giving people more freedom to choose where they live. In the South-East, we have seen a huge increase in demand for semi-rural locations with good transport links to Oxford and London.

Our homes have always been designed with distinct living spaces, which we have found more popular than open plan living, and this is likely to continue as more people work from home.

Sustainability is high on everyone’s agenda and, at Deanfield, we strive to be ahead of building regulations when it comes reducing carbon emissions in our homes. We are focused on improving energy efficiency, providing EV charging points and exploring opportunities for renewable energy solutions wherever possible.

Sustainable development is about leaving a lasting legacy and building homes for many generations to come – and that’s what we’re all about at Deanfield.