Erith Park is a mixed-tenure community, providing homes for people that meet a range of need and aspiration. Shared ownership homes are sold and managed by Orbit, and private sales homes are sold by Wates Living Space.
An important decision was made early on in the project to create a combined marketing operation for both shared ownership and outright sale homes. We have one sales and marketing suite, one sales team, and one show house and apartment. It’s only once a potential buyer has viewed our homes and all their questions about the scheme have been answered, that we then discuss which tenure would best suit their circumstances.
There are obvious efficiencies in combining Orbit and Wates Living Space’s budgets, enabling us to create greater impact to the benefit of both sales streams. This approach also helps us to underpin our positive message about ‘one community’ and a mixed-tenure development.
This joint approach was helped by some very early decision making. During the design process both Orbit and Wates Living Space agreed on a standard specification for both sales and shared ownership homes. Sales homes differ from homes for rent only in a small number of internal fittings, such as tiles and taps. Liaison to agree common specifications for sales units not only simplified procurement and construction, but also made shared show units possible.
For long-term social value, we were keen for as many residents as possible to have a vested interest in the neighbourhood. We therefore decided to minimise the number of properties rented privately, and not to sell more than one property to one person. Although we realise that some buyers’ circumstances will change and some properties will be let from time to time, we want to keep this to a reasonable level. We ask all buyers to complete a financial assessment, which is also useful to determine eligibility for the Help to Buy scheme, and to validate whether advance reservations are ‘serious’. This also helps us to identify any potential buyer who intends to let the property so that we can decline the sale.