Stewart Milne Homes’ North West managing director on building success in the city region
With a clutch of sought after developments and more on the way, housebuilder Stewart Milne Homes is fast becoming a familiar name across the Liverpool City Region.
YM Liverpool caught up with North West managing director Paul Challinor to discuss this growing presence, the firm’s proud history and supporting October’s NWPAs.
Words by Lawrence Saunders
Scotland’s Stewart Milne Group began life as Aberdeen-based Stewart Milne Construction in 1975.
The brainchild of Stewart Milne CBE, the firm had employed 135 members of staff by 1973 and was turning over more than £2 million annually.
As the 1970s drew to a close, the company’s housebuilding, construction and timber frame manufacturing remit had grown exponentially.
Fast forward to 2018 and building homes is still a central piece of the family-run business, with the North West of England chosen for its only residential projects outside of Scotland.
“We’ve had a presence in the North West since 2006,” explains Paul.
“The original strategy for establishing a presence in the area was to focus on sites in the Cheshire villages. We had sites in Middlewich, Nantwich, Sandbach.
“But over the last five years we’ve moved to include sites in North Wales, Lancashire, North Staffordshire and, of course, the Liverpool City Region.”
“We’ve had some really good success with Liverpool City Region sites – demand has probably been higher than anywhere else in the North West”.
With schemes in the likes of Widnes and Upton, and further developments in the pipeline for Prescot, Hooton and a large site at Halsnead Park near Whiston, what is it about the area that is so attractive to Stewart Milne?
“We’ve had some really good success with Liverpool City Region sites – demand has probably been higher than anywhere else in the North West,” adds Paul.
“From our point of view, we know what the people of the Liverpool City Region are – very proud people who love to live in the areas that they’re in.”
After its first city region development of 22 homes in Widnes was snapped up off-plan within just four months, Stewart Milne was given the confidence to go after bigger sites including that of its Upton Pines development in Wirral.
The 180-home scheme, which is now entering its final phase, has experienced huge interest from prospective homeowners.
“The demand has been fantastic on every site that we’ve done,” says Paul. “People want to live in the Liverpool City Region.
“As a result of that, sales rates have been significantly ahead of sites we have done in other areas of the North West.
“The highest number of local people, in terms of the percentage of people buying our homes, has been on these sites.”
Aside from contributing quality residential developments, Stewart Milne has been keen to give back to local communities surrounding the houses.
In Prescot, where work has begun on its 68-home Callenders Green scheme, the builder offered its support to the town’s historic Prescot Cables Football Club.
The team, also known as the Pesky Bulls, kicked off the new Evo-Stik League Division One West season with Stewart Milne emblazoned across its traditional amber coloured kit.
Although the new strip wasn’t enough to inspire victory – the team went down 2-1 away at Trafford – Prescot has made a pleasing start to the season with 10 points from its opening five matches.
“We have real family values. Helping communities is something we are passionately committed to… It attracts the right people, the type of people who want to be here for the right reasons.”
Meanwhile across the River Mersey, staff from the housebuilder gave their time to create a garden for workers and patients at Arrowe Park Hospital.
Equipment, plants and flowers were donated as part of a two-week project to transform an unused area of the hospital estate into a peaceful outdoor space.
“We have real family values,” says Paul.
“[Helping communities] is something we are passionately committed to and it has been key to our growth as it attracts the right people, the type of people who want to be here for the right reasons.”
Alongside its altruistic endeavours, Stewart Milne has also given its backing to a number of property events and initiatives across the Liverpool City Region including the NWPAs – the North West’s premier residential and commercial property awards.
A prize-winner in 2017 and headline sponsor this year, the company’s association with the awards has helped boost its profile in a location where it had been somewhat unfamiliar to the public.
“Stewart Milne is a household name in Scotland – it wasn’t in the North West of England,” says Paul.
“What we are trying to do is grow brand awareness through things like the NWPAs – which we entered for the first time in 2017 and were fortunate enough to win an award.
“I think it’s vital for any business to nail its colours to the mast and say ‘we’re proud to be scrutinised, come and see what we’re all about’.”
As 11 October and the big night at Liverpool’s Lutyen’s Crypt approaches, Stewart Milne is delighted to be associated with a celebration which Paul believes helps drive standards in the industry ever higher.
“I’ve worked with housebuilders all over the country and for me, the North West has a real pride and a passion for housebuilding which I genuinely think is unmatched anywhere else,” he adds.
“There are a lot of really skilled people in the region who are trying to drive the quality of housebuilding forward, and the celebration of that at the NWPAs is key.
“People should be striving to get better. To win, or to be considered for an award helps everybody’s quality improve on an ongoing basis.”