As Wates Residential North hands over the keys to the 150th home built in Flintshire through its strategic partnership with Flintshire County Council, Framework Manager Mick Cunningham discusses the benefits of partnership working and rolling out the successes of Wates’ work across the county.
“This year saw us pass the halfway point in our five-year collaboration with Flintshire County Council through the Strategic Housing and Regeneration Partnership (SHARP). In this time we’ve handed over 150 new homes with a further 187 currently under construction – all contributing to the council’s target to deliver 500 new homes for the county by 2020.
“Since 2015, the ambition of SHARP has drawn a lot of attention from the industry. The scale of investment is impressive and it’s very important for Wales to help address the demand for affordable housing. While this can’t be underestimated, I consider one of the biggest successes of SHARP to be how effective Wates Residential North and Flintshire County Council have been as partners.
“Working as partners has meant we understand one another and that makes the day job a lot easier, a lot more productive and a lot more rewarding – for both parties. I have led the delivery of the new homes under SHARP since day one and I can say with confidence that our secret weapon has been communication. We have asked Flintshire County Council what is important to them and we’ve listened to the answer. It’s a very simple way of working but it is the foundation of our partnership.
“I do have to admit that we have a bit of an advantage in that we actually share a lot of the council’s priorities. They want to address housing demand and do it in a way that boosts the local job market and both of these things are very important to Wates. Local labour has been a big part of our work in Flintshire. With the council, we have held seven supply chain events to encourage local businesses to become part of SHARP. The result has been that 52% of labour on site has come from a 30-mile radius of our developments and we also have a very high proportion of SMEs within our supply chain.
“Having a local supply chain is always a big focus for us but working in partnership with Flintshire Council has taken this to a new level. The council has helped to connect us to local businesses and this has meant that we have achieved an even greater positive local economic impact. In the past three years, we’ve had 30 apprentices join us on our sites in Flintshire, either directly employed by Wates or with our supply chain.
“The homes that we’re building are our main focus for SHARP and they are in themselves a lasting legacy of our work in the county. But I really believe that our achievements in terms of the boost to the local economy and job market are the most impressive things about SHARP. Helping to create jobs for people and finding opportunities to support communities are the real bricks and mortar of our partnership with Flintshire County Council and I look forward to continuing this success in the coming years.”
Mick Cunningham is Framework Manager for Wates Residential North and has headed up the business’ delivery of Flintshire County Council’s SHARP programme since 2015.