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David Howell recently joined Countryside as an Independent non-Executive Director after 10 years in a similar role for Berkeley Homes. Here, he gives us an insight to why he joined Countryside, his views on the housing market and the effect the election could have on it and how his role can assist Countryside’s growth plan.

Why I joined Countryside and my views on the housing market and the election effect - by David Howell

Countryside initially appealed to me as the company strives to create places rather than just new homes, very similar to Berkeley.  Talking with Graham and Richard Cherry, I discovered more about the history of the company and the legacy Alan Cherry has created.  For me if you are enthusiastic about the product then you’re also enthusiastic about the company and that is something that initially struck me about the Cherry’s.  The Company is an incredible success story, it is very well balanced and is in a good position to move forward and grow substantially.

My role as a non-executive director is to represent shareholders on the board, and I’m also Chair of the Audit Committee, so my remit is to maximise returns. I’m experienced in doing that across a number of industries with listed and unlisted companies.

I have been on the board of Berkeley for ten years so I’ve seen one of the very best companies in the sector grow and prosper.  I can therefore help Countryside to move forward.

During my first few weeks I have seen some of the sites that are a great testament to Countryside. Developments such as Kings Park in Harold Wood and Great Kneighton in Cambridge have created a community where people what to live. The sites are very well maintained with excellent attention to detail on the build and landscaping.

At the same time, Millgate’s developments really do have an incredible impact.  What struck me is how green they are, automatically creating a relaxing and attractive place to call home.  Secondly, the developments are incredibly well located, Ascot being one that of course stands out.

Moving forward, both Countryside and Millgate have a lot more to offer.  Obviously there’s been a lot of talk about a housing boom or bubble.  There is undoubtedly a shortage of homes and people are demanding more for their money.

One of the biggest challenges however is the costs of materials which have been increasing due to a shortage of supply.  While the increase in material costs has so far been reflected in the increased margin of new home sales, any slowdown of the latter needs to be mirrored by the former.

Help to Buy has been a superb scheme for the whole country as it has increased supply, but has not contributed to any so called boom.  I therefore don’t see a slow down as such in the market unless something unforeseen happens after the next general election.

It’s likely the housing market will slow down prior to the election as it creates uncertainty.  For example will a mansion tax be imposed?  Planning consents will slow down as they normally do and indeed we are seeing that happen in some places already.

Countryside has a fantastic land bank – it’s strong enough to cover us for a good period of time.  That’s a very good place to be as the land market is toppy and we do not want to be overpaying for land.

Countryside has a great management team led by Ian Sutcliffe with Graham and Richard Cherry and Wendy Colgrave.  They know a lot about this industry.

I’m really looking forward to meeting more people at Countryside as I go around.  I’m sure I will learn from them and their experiences, and be inspired by them!

David Howell
Non-Executive Director

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About this blog

Here you’ll find property related blog articles from the team at Countryside as well as independent experts. Expect regular tips and advice on topics such as buying a new home, interior and landscape design, setting up home, mortgages and finance, plus articles on architecture, the property market, regeneration and more.

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