Over 30 years ago, our Senior Quantity Surveyor Alison DuBock began a career in construction as a trainee, fresh out of uni. At first, Alison thought an industry ‘dominated by men’ would be a challenge, but it is a career path pursued nonetheless, even with her brother telling her that it is no career for a female. This was the eighties, after all, and construction has always changed with the times.
When thinking of a man’s industry, construction might be your first guess. The industry reputation has preceded it in various media tropes on our screens for decades, including in the Tom Hardy film Locke, and as Tim ‘The Tool Man’ Taylor in sitcom Home Improvement, which both present construction sites as male spaces heavily featuring common male stereotypes, with no girls to be seen.
If we are to mention stereotypes though, front-line work on building sites may not be seen as the most glamourous place for the more feminine lady, and besides the discussion of possibly introducing a hot pink high-vis jacket, stereotypes will be left out of this blog.
In 2021, women are as much a part of construction as men. At Deeley Group, we have female designers (architectural and structural), quantity surveyors, buyers, site managers, site engineers, and trainees, to name but a few. Although the gender gap regarding on-site trades has shortened in recent years, it is closing nonetheless; there is no reason a woman can’t be a bricklayer! is what Alison should’ve told her brother back in the day.
To combat pre-conceptions of women in construction, we have been holding talks in schools and FE colleges about the topic, exploring how enjoying making things in GCSE Technology classes is enough experience to start taking steps towards one day being a part of the construction of a skyscraper, and that girls should not be scared or intimidated by what’s believed to be the ‘male culture’ on sites, as there are now vast amounts of rules and regulations to enforce respect for everyone.
Construction is grassroot, by explaining that we are not a ‘dirty industry’ as blockbuster films would like to refer to us as, and showing that it can be attractive, we at Deeley are trying to improve notions in future generations. Alison has been inspiring young girls to pursue a career in our industry for some time now, giving lectures to school-aged kids, promoting traineeships to soon-to-be school leavers and telling them facts such as how construction changes everyday, that no matter which role you acquire no two days are the same and that pride is a large factor in our line of work; when you see a development you had a hand in coming together is what makes her feel immensely proud, and then being able to drive by a development years later and saying ‘that there is my building’ is the cherry on top.
Of course, I had to ask if she had a specific building in mind when referring to this, and she mentions the first building she worked on, the old AXA Assurance tower in Coventry city centre, a centrepiece for the town in which she put together the golden carpet walling wrapped around it (a first for the city), which is still in use today, over 3 decades later, as student accommodation.
Alison’s advice for girls considering possibly getting into the industry: confidence is key, give as good as you get, but on a respectful level. It is an endearing industry, as all you’ll mainly need to join is maths and English skills, but the most important skill you can have is common sense. Hollywood should make a film about that.
The Starley Sportive, which will be held on Sunday, September 19, has been backed by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street – the man behind the Starley Network, a 500-mile cycling network for the region.
Andy Street joined representatives from organisers the Deeley Group and Coventry Road Club ahead of this year’s event.
Both the sportive and the cycling network are named in honour of the Starley family.
James Starley is known as the father of the bicycle industry, while John Kemp Starley widely considered the inventor of the modern bicycle. Both worked and lived in Coventry.
Organisers of the Starley Sportive are committed to encouraging more people to get on their bikes and take advantage of the Starley Network, which has seen cycle routes and cycle lanes pop up across the West Midlands.
They are also hoping to have a rider take on the route on a West Midlands Cycle Hire bicycle on September 19.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “We launched the Starley Network in August 2020 and cycling has a vital role in the future of our transport plans not only in Coventry but across the West Midlands.
“Alongside the creation of nearly 500 miles worth of routes, our ambitious cycling plans rest on encouraging more people to get out on two wheels and experience our region.
“Charity cycling events, such as the Starley Sportive here in Coventry, are essential to drive more people to embrace the cycling revolution.”
The Starley Sportive will set off from Deeley Group head office on Herald Avenue and riders will be raising money for The Myton Hospices, Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice and University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire Charity.
John Eburne, president of Coventry Road Club, said: “Cycling is fantastic for physical and mental wellbeing and we applaud Andy Street’s impact in making it easier for people across our city to take up cycling.
“While our event is focused on raising funds for our chosen charities, we do also place great importance on encouraging more people into the sport as part of our Coventry Road Club activities.”
Eleanor Deeley, deputy managing director of the Deeley Group, added: “As a company we are committed to promoting healthier lifestyles for our staff and within the communities in which we work.
“We would like to thank Andy Street for coming down to learn more about the event and we look forward to continuing to work with him and Coventry Road Club to shout about the benefits of cycling across the region.”
To find out more about the Starley Sportive visit www.starleysportive.co.uk/
PICTURE CAPTION: John Eburne, Eleanor Deeley and Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street.
The Starley Sportive raised more than £10,000 last year, despite the event taking place virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. Organisers are hoping for a huge turnout this year and are expecting to raise even more money with more than 300 participants already signed up.
The Myton Hospices will be one of three main beneficiaries for this year’s event, which takes place on Sunday, September 19, alongside Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice and University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire Charity. Participants are also encouraged to raise funds for important personal causes.
Ruth Tandy, Challenge and Events Fundraising Coordinator for The Myton Hospices, said: “We are delighted to be part of the Starley Sportive. It is a family-friendly local event which brings together cyclists, local artists and charities all in aid of good causes in the community.
“Our community is at the heart of everything that we do and we want to reach out to as many people as possible to let them know about our services, should they need them now or in the future.
“We have a team of 21 riders taking part and we are hoping to raise in excess of £2000. This could fund a patient specific recliner chair to enable patients to spend time out of bed with their loved ones.
“We will be there on the day to cheer our riders on and will have a stand where people can find out more about our vital work. We are really looking forward to it!”
Bethany Richardson, Community and Events Fundraiser for Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice, added: “Last year Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice were incredibly grateful to receive over £5,800 from the Starley Sportive.
“The fantastic amount raised last year and in previous years has allowed us to continue to stay open during our most testing 12 months yet, providing care and support to babies and infants with life threatening and life limiting illnesses and their families.
“The Starley Sportive is a brilliant event and we are extremely thankful for their ongoing support. Year after year they have gone above and beyond and it is so very much appreciated.
“If you would like to take part for Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice this year, please do contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org – we would be delighted to hear from you!”
Riders will set off from the Deeley Group head office on Herald Avenue, Coventry, and have the choice of challenging three distances – a 28.6 mile route, a 63.2 mile long-distance ride, or the mammoth 86.5 mile challenge.
Ian Court, Racing Secretary at Coventry Road Club, said: “The Starley Sportive has proved over the last few years that there is plenty of excitement around cycling in Coventry and Warwickshire, and a massive part of that is the incredible fundraising that we have been able to achieve.
“There are three routes once again this year to suit a range of abilities, and we would love to see as many riders as possible saddling up for one of our fantastic main charities or for a cause close to their heart.
“The virtual ride that we hosted last year was a huge success, and we are grateful to all who participated, but there is nothing like being out on the road with likeminded people. I’m sure it will be a memorable day, and would be even better if we can break our fundraising record.”
Edward Hudson, Business Development Manager at the Deeley Group, said: “With last year’s event being cancelled, it would be great to see people making the most this opportunity to do some real good for the amazing charities in our local area.
“More than an act of kindness, we expect the day to be enjoyable for all. After a difficult 12 months it’s a great opportunity to socialise and get active and we’re hoping for another huge turnout.”
PICTURE CAPTION: From left to right – Natalie Humphrey (The Myton Hospices), Ian Court (Starley Sportive), Jo O’Sullivan (Charity director, University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire Charity), Edward Hudson (Deeley Group) and Bethany Richardson (Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice).
The Deeley Group recently outlined its plans for growth and that will see a greater focus on providing affordable homes.
This emphasis is based on market need, our track record in successfully delivering projects, – either on our own or for sector clients – and our in-house capability.
Homes England has increased its funding and there is greater Government emphasis on delivering more homes and ensuring there is sufficient affordable housing – which is what is driving the market.
Therefore, there is a need for more stock and this has meant there is more demand from registered providers. We are in a very good position to help deliver against that demand across all forms of affordable housing – social rent, affordable rent, shared ownership and the recently announced First Homes.
We can – and do – work on projects of all sizes and scales but at present, the ‘sweet-spot’ for the majority of registered providers is in the 30 to 60-unit range.
This is generally due to the numbers being too small for volume builders to get involved.
Some of the more established registered providers are now venturing into larger schemes if they are in particular areas of growth and are willing to push as far as 150-200 units in some cases.
However, once unit numbers exceed 50-60 plots there is often a need to incorporate a percentage of private housing into the scheme as local authorities are hesitant to allow such large affordable-only schemes.
One strategy which is particularly effective related to affordable housing is the Rural Exceptions Policy. This is a national and, in most cases, local policy which allows affordable housing to be delivered outside of settlement boundaries and outside of the development plan.
This policy is relatively restrictive in some places and is often limited in size depending on the size of the settlement. There has been a recent appeal decision where the inspector overturned the local authority’s refusal of a rural exceptions development of 128 homes in Burton-upon-Trent.
This has set a precedent for affordable housing undersupply being given ‘significant weight’ within a planning balance argument and will lead to the delivery of some large sites over the coming years. These sites have even been known to secure planning within the green belt.
The introduction of the new First Homes scheme at the end of June, which is now included within the definition of Affordable Housing, will constitute the first 25 per cent of all on-site provisions going forward. We are very keen to explore this new model which should present opportunities across the market to offer a more diverse range of affordable homes for the people that need them.
One common theme that we have noticed is that Affordable Housing Providers are now becoming much more commercial given the scale of the grant funding that is available and they are being aggressive in pursuing opportunities which suit their own personal growth ambitions.
We have worked in the affordable and commercial housing sectors and that, along with our experience in construction and development, makes us very well placed to help deliver schemes which will make a telling difference to the housing shortage.
It is also why we see the sector a key to our growth in the medium and longer term.
Deeley Construction completed the improvement works at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in April, while it was still closed to the public due to Covid-19 restrictions.
It is now back open to the public and visitors can enjoy several newly refurbished galleries, four redeveloped larger galleries and improved welcome area, café, retail area and toilet facilities.
It is set to host its first major events when UnNatural History and 2 Tone: Lives and Legacies open to the public on May 29, the first in a year-long programme of events as part of Coventry’s UK City of Culture 2021 schedule.
Work completed to the gallery will significantly reduce its carbon footprint, while providing the perfect environmental conditions for showcasing world-leading art collections.
The several refurbished galleries can be found on the first floor with new wall linings, flooring and lighting.
While the four redeveloped galleries have been modernised and enable the hosting of large, world-class exhibitions.
Deeley Construction completed the redevelopment work with many of the gallery’s art pieces still in place and acted under strict procedures set by on-site art specialists.
Martin Gallagher, Managing Director of Deeley Construction, said: “We’re proud to have played our part in improving one of the city’s leading art and cultural institutions ahead of a huge year for Coventry.
“Our team liaised closely with the gallery’s art curators to ensure works progressed smoothly and that the collections already housed at the Herbert were protected.
“We completed the works largely when the gallery was closed to the public, so it’s fantastic to see people finally being able to enjoy the results of the finished renovation and the new spaces that have been created.”
Paul Breed, Chief Executive of Culture Coventry, added: “We are delighted to finally be back open and able to share our new-look spaces with visitors.
“It has been great to work with a trusted, local, family firm such as Deeley Construction as the main contractor on this project. The work completed will not only prove essential to up-scaling events for our City of Culture year, but also help us to achieve our ambitious legacy plans.”
Cllr David Welsh, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, added: “It’s such a boost to everyone to see visitors at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, especially after the revamp and the extra spaces that have been created.
“I can’t wait to visit myself. Lots of people and organisations have been supporting and working on the improvements and everyone deserves a lot of credit after the challenges of the pandemic.
“This is a venue that people of all ages can enjoy for many years to come.”
To find out more about the calendar of upcoming events at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum visit https://www.theherbert.org/
The Deeley Group has a long history of delivering high-quality developments across a range of sectors – and we have continued that pattern with a strong start to 2021.
The foundation for these developments can be found in partnerships, something we pride ourselves on at Deeley Group and that continue to be fruitful in providing a stream of varied projects.
We have a trio of projects underway in the retail sector, including two developments in Birmingham.
The new store in Hamstead, Birmingham, is the latest contract we have been awarded under the Lidl contractor framework
We have also built trusted partnerships with organisations such as Ziran Land to deliver a new Costa Coffee drive-thru in Wolverhampton and with LondonMetric to build a new Sofology store in Birmingham.
The benefits of partnerships and building relationships are clear and we have recently embarked on our third development for major supermarket chain Lidl.
It’s important to us that projects we carry out have a enhancing impact on the communities we are working within, and our work in healthcare and education is the perfect platform for this.
Earlier this month we saw work start on a £11.3 million Extra Care Living development in Didcot for Housing 21 – another prime example of partnership working to full effect, as we are now onto our second project with Housing21.
We understand the specific requirements of the operators and their residents, delivering schemes that create lasting value for all stakeholders. As a family business, people and the community are at the heart of everything we do.
Education and Public Sector
Then, in our home city of Coventry, we have started work on transforming a school in the east of the city. We have worked closely with Coventry City Council to deliver this project in time for the new school term.
As well as the development providing clear benefits to the community through new education provision, we have also ensured that local subcontractors are used on the development and all of the on-site subcontractors are based within 30 miles of the site.
We have also worked with Coventry University to enhance research and development capabilities at five of its facilities at the Coventry University Technology Park – which will of course have a positive knock-on effect on the economy in the city and wider region.
Our history as a contractor and a developer shows our ability to assist clients early on with brief and planning. This allows us to build strong relationships from the start of projects and can result in repeat business for the future. Currently 85% of our work has been secured through negotiation or with existing clients.
Collaboration is key and we’re proud that our staff reflect that ethos in their day-to-day work. The work of our design and build team in engaging with clients on a project from the planning stage and communicating information effectively is a great example of that.
Our ability to work across a broad range of sectors has served us well during the pandemic.
In a tough market, we haven’t been a firm that has chased turnover or cut any corners. We have ensured a high standard of development that meets our client’s needs, whatever the sector.
Again, that is an ethos which has served us well for 85 years and will continue to do so long into the future
‘The Willows’ development, which is three miles from Melton Mowbray, is a partnership between Midlands-based developer Deeley Homes (part of the Deeley Group) and social housing and care organisation emh group.
It is the first time the two organisations have worked together on a development, which will provide a mix of social rented, shared ownership and market sale homes.
The scheme will see more than two thirds of the houses delivered as affordable homes, contributing to targets in the East Midlands, while supporting the demand for homes of this type in Asfordby and surrounding communities.
Deeley Homes partnered with emh group to purchase the site and detailed planning permission was granted for the development in June 2020.
Fifteen of the homes will be sold privately under the Deeley Homes banner, emh group is also developing its first market sale units here as well as shared ownership and rented accommodation to meet demand on the housing register.
The developers have committed to making a range of improvements in the area near the development to make the area safer and enhance infrastructure for the community.
This includes improving highway safety outside the nearby primary school, upgrading local bus stops, providing bus passes and travel packs to new residents and also contributing to libraries and secondary education provision in the area.
Eleanor Deeley, Deputy Managing Director of the Deeley Group, said: “This development is crucial in providing vital affordable housing to people in and around Asfordby, and we’re pleased to announce work is now underway on site.
“This is a development that is designed to respond to the requirements of people who live in the area and we are pleased to have partnered with emh group to ensure that this is the case.
“It is the first time we have worked alongside emh group on a project and we hope this will be the start of a fruitful partnership.
“In addition to the affordable homes delivery we will be bringing a collection of new Deeley Homes properties to the market and there is expected to be high-demand for these properties in the region.
“The development is perfectly positioned with excellent school options for residents and good transport links to major nearby towns.
“As part of the scheme we are making a range of local infrastructure improvements too and we believe the development will be of great benefit to the community of Asfordby.”
Chris Jones, Executive Director of Development at emh group, said: “As a strategic partner of Homes England, the government homebuilding agency, we aim to deliver 600 new affordable homes across the East Midlands every year.
“We are delighted that our first project with Deeley Homes, and first market sale homes, has started on site, and through this strong partnership we are contributing to meeting the housing needs and aspirations of people in the Melton Borough Council area with new homes for shared ownership and affordable rent.”