BY Peter Deeley
In a world which is increasingly digital, and where reality can be virtual – we are currently working on a £15 million project which has underlined the slightly older values of trust, knowledge and relationships.
We finished a very nice project for Warwickshire College Group at Pershore last year, and off the back of that picked up an enquiry from the College in Leamington as it had a contract to provide training to more students and therefore provide additional student accommodation.
The college was looking to a development team in the private sector to fund such a scale of operation. So we put forward a structured package of funding, designing and building of the units.
After talks with the college, the fund we introduced purchased 100 existing student units, we are building 100 now and there is an option on a final phase of 64 units.
So the funder will end with an investment of 264 student units in a very good location in the centre of Leamington.
The significance is that it really shows what local companies can provide when it comes to need. In short, if you have the requirement for housing there are always ways of providing funding and the ability to deliver.
It is a specialised area but we understand the way the funds need to be structured. We believe we have an overall view of development that allows us to structure packages so all requirements are met:
The college has its student accommodation
Deeley Group are completing a sizeable building contract
…..and the funder has a good investment!
Literally win, win, win!
Our size and our experience are key. We are local enough to really know the market yet large enough to be attractive to these types of property fund investors. Part of our ability is to comprehend how much the funds have to invest in property.
Knowing that and knowing the client’s needs, we agreed a formula which would be attractive to all sides.
This was not a banking property proposition in this post-recession climate. The figures would not have worked with a conventional banking arrangement.
Over the last decade, we have consciously developed an expertise in how funds work and how investors operate.
Construction, like all other industries, has moved with the times but it is interesting that in arrangements such as this, relationships and trust in those relationships, is fundamental. Without that element, nothing would work.
There are matters of confidentiality from all sides, and all parties have to have faith that the others have the ability to deliver what they are promising.
The funds are out there – not necessarily with banks – but you have to find the right ways to invest it and the right people to work with. If you can do that, the results can be mutually beneficial.
‘Working in partnership’ is one of those buzz phrases that so many businesses try to claim but so few can genuinely prove to be true. But when it comes to the Coventry based Deeley Group – a leading property development and construction firm – it’s a commitment to partnership that sees the company celebrate its 80th anniversary in 2016 in a very strong position.
It is working with a range of clients and partners from across the Coventry, Warwickshire and West Midlands region as well as a host of national organisations.
If you take this area alone and travel from north Warwickshire down through Coventry and into the south of the county, the evidence of the firm’s work is clear to see.
At the moment, Deeley Construction is working on a major extension to the Holland & Barrett headquarters at Bermuda Park in Nuneaton – a site developed by the Deeley Group over four decades.
And, in Stratford, the company has recently started work on new keyworker, private-rented accommodation on behalf of Orbit in the Town Centre – a site developed in conjunction with two other companies as part of the ABD partnership.
Add to that an unwavering commitment to a host of community and charitable causes including the Belgrade Theatre Trust, the Heart of England Community Foundation and the Grace Research Fund (among many others) and the positive impact that one firm – started by bricklayer George Deeley in 1936 – can clearly be seen.
Peter Deeley, George’s son, is still heavily involved with the firm as managing director of the group.
He said: “Developing partnerships is something that has always been important to us as a company and I believe it’s critical in today’s market.
“Some of the work we are undertaking at HORIBA MIRA, with both Warwick and Coventry universities, with the likes of Orbit Homes and LondonMetric, is all about relationships and partnership.
“It’s not simply about being a contractor or developer – it’s about being a part of the team that is going deliver a project. The construction team is winning repeat work with a number of clients and, again, I believe that comes down to the fact that we are seen as a partner not a contractor.
“When working in this area, our local knowledge really is of benefit to the client – it cannot be underestimated how valuable that can be. We have 80 years’ experience in this region and in this sector – few can say that.
“Another important point to stress is communication. In any business, you meet challenges but we always find it’s best to be open and transparent and talk to the client and others involved – again, that’s what partnership is all about.”
The company has been held in high regard, almost from day one in 1936.
GW Deeley, as it was then, won acclaim for providing the ‘best air-raid shelters’ in Coventry soon after the firm was established – a key market at the time! Then, in the 1940s, the company won a great deal of work building council houses in the Coventry and Rugby areas.
The 1950s and 60s saw further expansion of the business as the company branched out into building schools and other public buildings.
It developed its own HQ in Torrington Avenue, Coventry, and Peter joined the firm.
“I ran my first housing development site in Balsall Common,” he said, “it came in on time and on budget!”
The 1970s and 80s saw further expansion for the company, both through natural growth and through acquisition, with the purchase of Garlicks, the oldest Coventry building company which began trading in 1862.
The firm even dipped its toes into international waters by creating a Saudi Arabian division to help with major construction projects in the wake of the oil boom in the country.
It was in 1981 when the group first became involved with Bermuda Park in Nuneaton which is one of the most striking examples of regeneration across the region.
Over the course of 35 years, the company has turned a former rubbish dump and open cast coal mine on the outskirts of the town into a thriving location where people, quite literally, work, rest and play.
More than 1,000 new homes have been created on the site as well as jobs for more than 2,000 people and, once again, Deeley has worked with a range of partners to bring it forward – from local MPs through to the local community, for whom new sporting and social facilities have been created.
In 2008, the company made a move of its own to a new, purpose-built headquarters, named George House, at the Coventry Business Park.
From there, its reputation as one of the most respected, independent construction and development companies in the West Midlands has continued to flourish.
Its Queensway scheme in Leamington has, again, been an exemplar in regeneration. It saw a manufacturing company rehomed onto another Deeley site in Southam and the brownfield site was then developed into retail, employment space and new homes.
Peter Deeley said: “As a company, we have always tried to be more than just a business, but a member of the community both where we are based and where we are working.
“We support several charities and community initiatives across Coventry and Warwickshire because we believe that is the right thing to do.
“Again, it all comes down to partnerships and that word might explain why we’ve made it to our 80th anniversary and are still going strong!”
(Image: Deeley Group’s, Mixed-Use, Queensway Development)
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We are an industry that, since the war, has suffered due to having to live through the cycles of boom and bust – we are currently entering a period of new positive activity due to the returning confidence to the market.
I think we saw the green shoots start last year and this recovery has continued with the Construction Products Association (CPA) forecasting growth in output in the sector by 5.3 per cent in 2015.
Our spread of activities continue into housing, commercial, educational facilities, student accommodation, retail and leisure where we are finding the ongoing expansion of all of these sectors.
To achieve these results of this increased workload we need to ensure that we continue to meet our clients’ aspirations in terms of time, cost and quality.
We continue to train where we can, but our industry does need to understand that we have an increased requirement of more training to be completed throughout the industry so to meet this growing demand.
Our clients still require us to cover all of their activities and as part of our service to our clients we have been building in Cambridge, Bedford, Hertford, Bristol, Evesham and Dudley as well as our immediate local area of Coventry and Warwickshire.
The issue that affects all of our developments is that of obtaining a planning approval for a project, a process that is certainly taking longer than anyone can envisage.
I sit on the Planning Group of CW LEP where we have been able to sign the authorities in our region up to a new planning protocol so providing a clear commitment to improving the current position – let us hope improvements can be made.
We continue to engage with all of our clients (an early start is sometimes required) as we develop our working relationships with them so to provide a completed project that is required to work for them.
Our continued success is testament to all at Deeley and I thank them for their commitment and effort.