Stonewood Partnerships secures £3.7m Paragon funding for Calne development

Stonewood Developments Calne

Gloucestershire-based property developer Stonewood Partnerships has secured a £3.7 million funding package from Paragon Development Finance for a new 18 home scheme in Calne, Wiltshire.

The ‘Courtyard’ development is on the site of a historic mansion that belonged to the Harris meat family and includes 11 new build and seven Grade II listed conversions of the remaining buildings on the estate.

Four two-bedroom apartments and a one-bedroom apartment will be developed in a former stable block, while a former coachman’s cottage will be extended to become two two-bedroom cottages. The cottage was part of a former malthouse dating back to 1758 and had, in 1826, housed the town’s fire engine.

The cottage and stable block had most recently been used as a social club until it closed after going into receivership in 2015.

The 11 new homes will be grouped around a central courtyard and public space on the site of the mansion once known as Woodlands. They will include seven three-bedroomed terraced homes, three three-bedroomed cottages and a one-bedroom bungalow. Woodlands was built by Charles Harris after purchasing the land in 1869.

His family company, C&T Harris pork processing, employed 2,000 people in the town at its peak, when it processed 5,000 pigs and produced 100 tons of meat pies, 150 tons of sausages, 50 tons of cooked meats and 70 tons of canned and miscellaneous products.

Award-winning Stonewood Builders, which specialises in restoring listed buildings, will convert the older buildings into apartments, while Stonewood Partnerships, which itself has won awards for its developments at Great Somerford and Holt, will build the new homes.

Stonewood Partnerships Commercial Director Adam Marks said the key task for the developer is protecting the heritage of the original buildings.

He said: “We’re excited to return these buildings to their former glory. We want to strip the building of the add-ons that have been built over the years to return it to its original state, including revealing three stone pillars that have been hidden. We are also creating beautiful new homes that reflect the history while embracing all the modern comforts, as well as being light, airy and welcoming.”

He added: “Paragon’s team has been supportive throughout this complex project and has shown great willingness to support us, enabling us to get started on the scheme.”

Paragon Development Finance Relationship Director Toby Burgess and Portfolio Manager Joshua Mann led the deal on behalf of the bank.

Toby said: “Stonewood has a fantastic track record of high-quality developments that are sensitive to the area in which they are based and we are confident that The Courtyard will be no different. We are looking forward to seeing the scheme progress.”

Family builder working hard to minimise delays after supply issues hit construction industry

Stonewood Group is working with suppliers and customers to tackle supply issues and material shortages that are affecting the whole construction industry.

Delays in deliveries of building materials including timber and bricks of up to 16 weeks mean staff at its contracting arm Stonewood Builders of Castle Combe and housing developer Stonewood Partnerships of Tormarton are working flat out to minimise the effect on its projects.

Stonewood Partnerships commercial director Adam Marks said the issue is affecting the whole of the industry but the group is reorganising the way it works to plan further ahead.

“Communication with the supply chain is the most important thing and we have strengthened our commercial team to allow us to do that,” he said. “We are working with suppliers to get notice of when there are going to be longer lead times than normal, as well as early notification of when stocks are available.”

He said Stonewood Partnerships, which has developments at Somerbrook in Great Somerford, The Tannery in Holt, The Courtyard in Calne in Wiltshire and  Orchard View at Siddington in Gloucestershire, is ordering some materials months in advance.

“Usually, we would place the order for all the internal doors on a development right at the start with one supplier and the site would just ring the supplier a few weeks before they need them,” he said. “But now we are doing that  12 to 16 weeks in advance so there is a lot more back office support needed.”

He said by working with suppliers to order ahead Stonewood is reducing the effect of shortages in timber, bricks, blocks and stone. “The reality is there are going to be delays to our building programme for the time being, it is just a case of doing everything we can to minimise them,” he said.

Industry experts say the delays are due to a combination of factors – a shortage of HGV drivers post-Brexit and because of the ‘pingdemic’, manufacturers still returning to full production after the pandemic and a worldwide shortage of shipping containers after China recalled millions of them because of Covid.

Mr Marks said: “We are hearing from the market that the problems should ease by the end of the year, or early next, but we have got a challenging three to four months ahead of us. I’ve never known anything like it from a materials and labour perspective.”

The shortages and rising shipping costs have also led to price rises, with suppliers unable to guarantee prices for more than a few months. Mr Marks said: “Prices are secondary as although we will obviously always strive for the best commercial value in our build, prices are fluctuating and we have to pay what we have to pay and there’s a not a huge amount we can do about that.”

The Office for National Statistics has projected a rise of 7 to 8 per cent in material prices, with increases for certain materials, such as timber, expected to more than double during the course of the year.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders said: “A recent FMB survey found that 93 per cent of builders reported material price increases in quarter one of 2021, which is an untenable situation.”

Stonewood said it is in regular contact with customers who have reserved homes to let them know of any completion delays so they can plan their moving day with confidence.

Managing director Sam Smart said: “We realise that moving home can be very stressful at the best of times and although these shortages are completely out of our control, we are doing absolutely everything in our power to find alternatives supplies, even if we have to use higher spec materials so that we minimise the impact as much as possible for our customers.

“We want to make sure they are kept up to date as far as we possibly can so they are clear what is happening.”