‘I don’t rate it at all,’ says Redrow chief

John Tutte

Building Beautiful report ‘patronises customers’, said Redrow chief John Tutte

The boss of volume housebuilder Redrow has laid into the Building Better, Building Beautiful report, accusing it of patronising customers.

Executive chairman John Tutte said the view of firms like his had been ignored by the commissioners who had taken a very narrow view of beauty.

He said Redow submitted more than 100 pages to the commission but, “I don’t think there’s a picture of a [volume] housing scheme in there”.

The commission, chaired by Create Streets’ Nicholas Boys Smith and the later Roger Scruton, made more than 100 recommendations including changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to prioritise placemaking and beauty. These would make it easier to turn down planning applications on design grounds.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick vowed to implement as many of recommendations contained in the report, Living with Beauty, as he can.

But Tutte told Building Design: “It’s very narrow in what it covers. The [housing] examples they give are one-off, bespoke schemes which are very difficult to build and very expensive. It patronises customers. I don’t rate the report at all.”

Redrow, a top-10 housebuilder, reported a 15% drop in pre-tax profit to £157m in the six months to December 2019. Completions were down 14% to 2,554. But there was an 18% rise in private net reservations, up to £936m, and Tutte said that the firm was in line to grow turnover and profit in its full year.

Tutte, who is stepping down this July to take up the non-executive chariman’s post, said the firm would not follow Persimmon’s example and commission a report into its build quality.

Persimmon is inspecting around 500 homes a week after an independent review said that it had routinely failed to install correct cavity barriers and firestopping on its timber-frame properties.

Tutte said that Redrow has launched a quality management system so it can keep tabs via iPads on any problems which affect its sites.

“The industry is quite archaic in the way it manages quality,” he added. ”The new iPad system allows us to be more efficient in managing the workmanship of our tradesmen.

“We know we can get better at quality. There is a commercial imperative because going back and putting defects right after someone has moved in is very expensive.”