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FAQs

What is Brick by Brick?

We are an independent development company based in Croydon, focused on residential development.

When was Brick by Brick established?

We started trading in January 2016.

Who owns Brick by Brick?

Brick by Brick is owned by Croydon Council, the sole shareholder.

Why has the council set up Brick by Brick?

The council has set up Brick by Brick in order to ensure people in Croydon have access to high quality housing. By establishing an independent development company, the council was aiming to ensure that the full value of development growth is kept in the borough – whether it be in the form of additional affordable housing, physical improvements in the local centres or a dividend return the council to fund council services. Brick by Brick is an innovative way of ensuring that housing supply meets housing need. Any development profits are returned to the council as shareholder and recycled to fund council activities.

To find out more you can read our Business Plan

What is the aim of Brick by Brick?

Our aims are:

  1. To address housing need by delivering a good proportion of affordable homes
  2. To maximise the return from development activity to Croydon residents

Our affordable homes target is 50% across the development portfolio. Affordable homes include those for social/affordable rent and shared ownership sale.

Homes for affordable rent are handed over to Croydon Council, who allocate them to those in housing need in the usual way.

All of our homes for sale are marketed excusively to Croydon residents for 8 weeks before they are released for sale, and Croydon residents always get priority.

Who runs Brick by Brick?

Brick by Brick (and our architecture practice Common Ground Architecture) has a team of about 40 staff, led by CEO Colm Lacey.  Corporate decisions are made by a Board comprised of two independent Directors and two members nominated by Croydon Council.

How does Brick by Brick ensure its business is transparent and monitored by its main shareholder, Croydon Council?

We publish a detailed annual Business Plan. This is scrutinised in detail (in public) by the LB Croydon Scrutiny and Cabinet committees.

We go through the same stringent planning procedures as any independent developer.

Our accounts are independently audited on annual basis as with any independent business.

Where we have borrowed funds or purchased land from the council, there are detailed conditions placed on these contracts relating to how that funding/land can be used.

Our Board meets regularly to challenge and guide the progress of the business.

How does Brick by Brick work - financially?

We build and sell new homes, and this activity creates a profit. Any profit realised by the development process creates a dividend which is returned to the council (as sole shareholder). This means 100% of the profit made by the company is returned to the Council and is available to fund the delivery of frontline services.

Often, the council also lends the finance needed for us to deliver our developments. This is done in the form of loans (which incur market rates of interest) and equity investment in the company. The council lends against individual schemes and will only do so where we can demonstrate a financially viable business case for the scheme. All lending is secured against the land.

The interest we pay on borrowing provides an additional revenue source to the council which can also be used to fund frontline services. Loans are repaid to the Council (along with all accrued interest) once individual developments are completed and the homes are sold.

We often purchase land from the council, again at market value. This creates a capital receipt for the council. Even though the Council already gets 100% of the profit generated by the company, the land purchases also include an overage arrangement which means that any increase in the value of the land is added to the land value and paid to the Council upon the completion of the scheme.

How does Brick by Brick work – from a development perspective

We purchase land from the council and others for development, develop designs with an architect and submit the proposal for planning consent.

 

We undertake viability assessments to ensure each scheme delivers the appropriate financial return, and the right balance of homes.

On planning consent, we award building contracts to the winning bidder from our approved contractor list. The construction process begins, overseen by the our Development and Construction teams, including an independent Clerk of Works who checks work on site.

Homes are released for sale, with a two month priority period for Croydon residents, and throughout the process buyers can visit the Brick by Brick shop in Central Croydon to learn more about the homes including buying options, specification and location.

What sites are you developing?

Most of our development sites are what is called ‘infill’. This includes garage sites and leftover pieces of land which the council has identified for redevelopment in line with its housing and transport policies. Some of these garage sites have also encountered fly-tipping in the past, so redevelopment will provide further benefit to the local area.

Other infill sites include underused open spaces, surface level car parks or community facilities. In these cases, we provide new replacement community facilities either on-site as part of the development, or very nearby.

How does the process of the council selling land to Brick by Brick work?

We identify land that is available for development and assess each site for development capacity (the number of homes of each tenure possible) and viability (the likely return on investment). Based on these initial investigations, we identify the sites that allow for the delivery of the right proportion of private and affordable housing, and a target level of profitability.

We then agree with the landowner (often, the council) a minimum price for the land and we takes an option on the land. For council land, this option agreement includes an overage arrangement that means any increase in the value of the land (calculated once the scheme has been sold) is fully returned to the Council.

When we exercise our option to purchase the land, the land transfers to the company with a set of rights and reservations that protect the Council’s interest in the land and ensure the right kind of development is delivered.

How is the price for land agreed?

The Council is required to get “best consideration” in terms of the price it agrees for any land being sold.

All land that is sold to us undergoes a formal valuation process (by an independent surveyor) to ensure that an appropriate base value is attached to the land. As with all land transactions, this is dependent on the type of development that is going to be delivered on the site (ie private, affordable, mixed etc). Often, where a significant amount of affordable housing is being delivered on a site, the land valuation will be lower. Similarly, where multiple sites are linked in planning terms (i.e. the affordable housing provision is spread across multiple sites) the land valuation will be considered across a group of sites. This often means some sites can appear discounted where the affordable provision is being delivered elsewhere.

Do you really buy land for £1?

No. We agreed a combined land value for all of the initial sites that transferred to us as part of the original planning consents. This is because the affordable housing provision was required by the planners across the whole group of sites (as described above). While individual values were assigned to certain sites meaning that some of the sites appear to have a minimum value assigned to them of £1, the valuation should actually be taken in totality because the sites work together.

Furthermore, all Brick by Brick land purchases include an ‘overage’ provision which accrues 100% to the council. In practice, this means that at the end of the development there is a recalculation of land value based on actual revenues received and Brick by Brick then tops up the land payment to the council. This ensures that the land value that is paid is wholly commensurate with the actual revenue generated by the development – i.e. that the land value is fair and justified.

How does Brick by Brick build its homes?

We tender all our projects to potential contractors who are selected based on capability, geography, reputation, scale, competency and price.

Once a contractor is appointed, a Brick by Brick Construction Manager continues to have oversight on the delivery of the scheme, obtaining approvals from our design team at agreed points throughout the project.

We also appoint an experienced independent Clerk of Works who oversees the site day to day.

Who are the architects?

We are extremely design focussed and commission the most talented architecture practices available to help us design our developments. These are listed on our website.

We also have our own an in-house architecture practice, Common Ground Architecture, who have oversight over the design of all schemes. Common Ground design the interior specification of all homes and are the lead architect for certain schemes. They also undertake a variety of work for external clients.

How does Brick by Brick ensure that local employment is created where possible?

We are committed to working with local contractors and sub-contractors where possible and appropriate. We promote the employment of local people through Croydon Council’s job brokerage service ‘Croydon Works’. For further details please contact info@croydonworks.co.uk or 020 8604 7471.

We also have a proactive relationship with Croydon College Apprenticeship Department who support Croydon Works.

How are local residents given priority on buying Brick by Brick homes?

We market our homes exclusively to local Croydon residents for the first two months prior to their release on the market, and Croydon residents are given priority throughout the sales process.

What happens to the affordable housing delivered by Brick by Brick?

We deliver two types of housing that is defined as ‘affordable’: shared ownership (where buyers purchase an equity share in the property and pay rent on the remainder) and affordable rent (which are transferred to a registered provider, or the council, for them to nominate tenancies at reduced market rents).

We sell and manage the shared ownership units we deliver.

The affordable rent units are transferred back to the Council (via Croydon Affordable Homes) for an agreed rate and therefore transfer back into Council ownership. The Council then nominates tenancies according to those with priority on its housing need register. Brick by Brick is not involved in the lettings process for affordable rent units.

Does Brick by Brick get special treatment from the planning department at Croydon Council?

We do not receive any special treatment from Croydon Council as Local Planning Authority (LPA) and we engage with the LPA in the same way as any other developer would via their Development Management service. This ensures that all of our developments are properly considered by the planning department and that the new homes we deliver have the necessary planning approvals in place to proceed

Like all good developers, we have a proactive relationship with the planning authority and we seek to put in place ‘Planning Performance Agreements’ on our larger projects outlining how the planning process will operate. We also employ an external Planning Consult to help co-ordinate our planning activities.

We would never submit a poor quality planning application, or one that we knew was not capable of gaining planning consent. For this reason, all of the schemes we have submitted to date have been approved.

How does Brick by Brick engage and consult with local communities about its proposed developments?

We are committed to consultation with the local community. Our Resident Engagement Team (sometimes working with external consultants) undertake a lot of consultation during the design and pre-planning stage, and also during planning and construction. This takes a variety of forms, from one-to-one meetings to public events to online correspondence etc. This enables us to have a very open conversation about development locally, and amend the designs where necessary to address local issues.

How do I comment on a proposed Brick by Brick scheme in my area?

Pre-planning stage

As a matter of course, residents and businesses within a catchment area of a minimum of 50 metres of a proposed development site will be invited to attend a public consultation event before a planning application is submitted. The event will give people the opportunity to view and comment on various aspects of a proposed development.

Comments can also be made via an online feedback form and details of how to access this and deadlines for submitting comments will be provided in writing to residents within the identified catchment area prior to the event. The comments will be used to inform the development proposals prior to a planning application being submitted. We review comments received, and where appropriate and feasible, we make amendments to proposals.

Planning application stage

The public can view and comment on planning applications via the council’s website https://publicaccess3.croydon.gov.uk/online-applications until the stated deadline. These comments are submitted directly to Croydon Council as the Local Planning Authority. We are not involved in this process.

The following link contains useful information on how to comment on planning applications https://www.croydon.gov.uk/sites/default/files/articles/downloads/Note%204%20-%20How%20to%20comment%20on%20a%20planning%20application.pdf

How can I find out if a site near to me is affected?

As well as our sites at construction stage, we currently have many projects across the Croydon in planning and at development stages. You can visit our website, bxbdevelopment.com for more information on our current and future developments.

In most cases, if you live within 50 to 100 metres of a site, you will be notified initially by a letter from us. However, for the estates where a wider study is taking place, we will write to all properties within the estate.

How will residents be kept up to date on the progress of a development, potential disruption from construction near their homes, and completion dates?

During construction, local residents receive regular newsletters giving details of progress on site and upcoming works, along with details of who to contact in the event of any concerns. Notices will also be clearly displayed on site noticeboards.

In addition, for larger developments, residents and key stakeholders within the catchment area will be invited to attend regular meetings or drop-in sessions with us and the building contractor appointed to carry out the construction works on our behalf.

How do I make a comment or complaint about a Brick by Brick development site?

For general comments and enquiries, please contact us via:

info@bxbdevelopment.com

Where are Brick by Brick schemes located?

We are currently building homes across the whole borough of Croydon including Upper Norwood, South Norwood, Thornton Heath, Selhurst, Central Croydon, Addiscombe, New Addington, South Croydon, Purley and Coulsdon.

What are the first schemes to be launched for sale?

  • Auckland Rise & Sylvan Hill, Upper Norwood
  • Ravensdale & Rushden, Upper Norwood
  • Flora Court, Thornton Heath
  • Windmill Place, Coulsdon

What are our biggest schemes?

  • College Green, CR0
  • Lion Green Road, Coulsdon
  • Kindred House (formerly Wandle Road car park), CR0
  • William Stanley House (South Norwood)

How can I buy a Brick by Brick home?

Register your details on our website.  When homes that are in your preferred area and price range are released for sale, you will be notified by email.

You can also keep an eye on our social media feeds:

@bxbdevelopment (Twitter / Instagram)

What is the purchasing process?

Once you have identified a Brick by Brick home that you’re interested in buying, you will need to follow this process:

  • Contact our independent financial advisors, Censeo, for an affordability assessment and to check your proof of ID
  • Provide proof of Croydon residency (if applicable)
  • Complete a Brick by Brick application form
  • Complete your mortgage application, and appoint a conveyancing solicitor
  • Complete a property preference form
  • Sign floor/block or site plan for the plot you would like to reserve

All of the above is co-ordinated by our friendly and skilled sales consultants, who are available to answer any questions throughout the process.

 

How long do Croydon residents get priority, and how is this ensured?

We always offer Croydon residents priority.  For the first two months before releasing a scheme for sale we invite Croydon residents to register interest so that they can be contacted first when the homes are available to buy (and can also get access to exclusive information about the developments coming forward for sale).  Thereafter we will open up our marketing but if there is a home that two people are interested in, we always offer Croydon residents priority.  This is ensured by asking all applicants to confirm their home address.

What affordable options are available?

We offer shared ownership homes for buyers that meet the affordability criteria to qualify to purchase a shared ownership property.  For open market homes that meet the criteria, Help to Buy support is also available.  Check the listings to see what’s available at the moment.

Will there be new council homes?

Yes, in line with Croydon Affordable Homes rent levels.  However, these are managed by Croydon Affordable Homes, and can be accessed through the council.  We build these homes on behalf of the council, but we don’t allocate or manage them.

Who will manage the new Brick by Brick homes?

Depending on tenure, the organisations responsible for managing the homes may be different. The private and shared ownership homes will be managed by Brick by Brick; the new affordable rent homes will be managed by the Council via Croydon Affordable Homes.

How do I live in an affordable rent Brick by Brick home?

Please apply through the council.

What is shared ownership?

Shared ownership, also known as part-buy/part-rent, is designed to help first time buyers get a foot on the property ladder.

You can buy from as little as a 25% share in a property then increase your share at any time, until you own 100% of the property. You will be charged a subsided rent on the share in the property that you do not buy.

Why buy through shared ownership?

In the current market, it is an affordable way to buy your first home. By initially buying a share, owning your first home can be easy and affordable.

Also the total monthly mortgage and rental can often be less than renting a similar property privately.

Who is eligible for shared ownership?

The main eligibility criteria for purchasing shared ownership is:

  • You are a first-time buyer. Or second time buyers can purchase through shared ownership if their current property does not meet their housing needs e.g. another bedroom required for son or daughter.
  • You have a gross household income of no more than £90,000 per annum.
  • You are unable to purchase a suitable home to meet your housing needs on the open market.

You do not already own a home or you will have sold your current home before you purchase.

What size share in a shared ownership home can I purchase initially?

Typically you will have the option to buy between 25% and 75% of your new home.  You are required to buy the maximum share you can afford and sustain. Your sales manager together with a Financial Advisor will assess your income and expenditure to work this out at the start of the process.

What is Help to Buy?

Help to Buy is an equity loan offered by the government, where they will lend you up to 40% of the cost of your new build home.  You put in a minimum 5% deposit.  This means that you will have an overall 45% deposit against the purchase price of your new home.  You won’t pay interest fees on the 40% loan from the government for the first five years.  From year six, a fee (linked to inflation) starts to be charged, which will increase every year after this in line with inflation.  The annual increase in the fee is calculated using the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 1%.

Why buy with Help to Buy?

Help to Buy is good if you are struggling to raise a deposit for your first home, as it gives you an interest fee loan to help towards this.

Who is eligible for Help to Buy?

Equity loans are available to first time buyers as well as homeowners looking to move. The home you want to buy must be newly built with a price tag of up to £600,000.

You won’t be able to sublet this home or enter a part exchange deal on your old home. You must not own any other property at the time you buy your new home with a Help to Buy: Equity Loan.

What is Common Ground Architecture’s role?

Common Ground Architecture is Brick by Brick’s in-house architecture practice. It is a new type of design practice, bridging the worlds of private and public sector bringing the best from each. Common Ground Architecture designs some schemes for Brick by Brick but also offers its services to other clients, including other London boroughs, with all profits returned to Croydon Council.

What is the range of services that Common Ground Architecture offers?

Common Ground offers a full range of architecture and design services. See www.commongroundarchitecture.com for more details.

What sort of homes does Common Ground Architecture design?

Common Ground Architecture’s approach is down to earth and practical, with designers who believe characterful and joyful architecture should be an everyday staple for everyone.  Common Ground Architecture is expert in realising the potential in the forgotten places and strives to create places that people are proud of and will enjoy for generations to come.