Our clients are regularly asking for insight on the current business climate. What could be better than to hear from the business leaders of practises themselves?
We have asked some of our favourite clients to share this understanding of the obstacles practices face, their achievements and what makes their practices attractive to future hires. This is the type of information we are using daily to match the right talent with the right practice.
Grab a cup of coffee and hear from Craig Jones, Director of Architecture at Boon Brown.
Boon Brown is a practice that provides architectural services as well as offering town planning advice and landscape design. They boast offices in Somerset and London, 50 staff and a history spanning from 1986. You can explore the work of Boon Brown here in their portfolio section.
Over the next 18 months, which sectors do you predict being most busy and why?
Ignoring the Brexit unknown for the present, I suspect housing will continue to dominate development growth for us and the industry for the next 18 months and beyond.
The Government outlined their overhaul of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on the 24th July, just ahead of the summer recess with a plan to introduce new policy in November. This is a clear move to potentially side-line local planning policies if Local Authorities are not delivering their housing quota set by Government. We don’t know if this particular move will succeed to counter local planning resistance to development but medium value housing remains strong for us in the London market and the demand seems to continue on a steady growth.
Beyond London and particularly in the south-west, we have seen a significant decline in new social housing over the past three years and there is an expectation that this will have to pick up with the appropriate funding.
Over the next 18 months, what obstacles do you predict to your market?
Brexit could impact significantly or have little effect; ask me in 18 months!
Without doubt the town planning process is the most challenging hurdle and I am not suggesting that diligent planning design review should be watered down. The problem is at multiple layers; local planning authority resources are often under-provided or of poor quality meaning the service delivery is poor and timescales not met.
Well-designed developments can be prevented or seriously delayed over relatively minor matters; such delays can easily swing development opportunities from profit to loss. Planning authorities have little regard for accountability and despite having a local plan to guide development; the attitude often remains as anti-development.
Finally, the planning committee decision process has to be questioned; all too often we see well-designed projects evolve with professional consultation and planning officer support only to be turned down by a local politics where Ward Members are canvassed heavily by a small band of local residents. We require a system over-haul where planning frameworks are locally canvassed and then set out clearly. The decision process is then placed with the Council’s experts to review suitability of design, scale and environmental considerations. That will give developers a clearer picture of what is required, it will help them manage their risks and ease the path to delivery.
What is Boon Brown’s flagship project?
I wouldn’t say that one stands out at the present time. In the London Studio, we have a constant stream of exciting projects. We are designing several bespoke high-value houses for clients on challenging sites and working with large house-builder clients on high density developments in and around London.
The South-West office has an interesting project to develop the cattle market brownfield site in Yeovil as a regenerated urban hub.
What is your main USP for attracting new talent?
This is key for us, as we are only as good as our staff. We can only secure new projects based on the successful delivery of past projects.
I am constantly aiming to establish a high calibre team in the office and reward staff. We have an exciting portfolio of projects where most schemes are built out and I like team members to take ownership of their projects.
We don’t operate a top – down approach to seniority, everyone has an important contribution to play in our success. Our salaries are competitive, and we have invested in improved office environment which has a perfect balance of being professional yet sociable also. We spend a lot of our time at work and comfort is important.