DUNDAS Estates has pushed turnover up one fifth, to a record level, off the back of initial completions on a housing development which aims to introduce a new concept of community.

Livingston-based Dundas Estates, the property development arm of the James Walker (Leith) group of companies, had revenue of £38.1 million in the year to March 31, up 19 per cent.

Pre-tax profit was up 20 per cent to £3m, with the average selling price of a home sitting at £195,000.

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Managing Director, Bruce Dunlop, is celebrating his 30th anniversary with the company this year, having been installed as the first employee of the business.

Mr Dunlop, highlighting the 196 completions made by the business last year, said it was “the strongest year we’ve ever had”.

But he said reservations had slowed since year-end, as house buyers face a market beset with uncertainty, from inflation, to possible interest rates rises, and the ongoing political environment.

“There is no doubt the market has got weaker since then, footfall is back a bit and reservations are back a bit. It’s just down to uncertainty,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an investor or purchaser, if there’s uncertainly you’re going to hold back.”

He said the lag between inflation and wage growth played a part because it means there is simply “less money in people’s pockets”.

“If you look across the range, whether it’s cars, products from John Lewis or Dobbie’s or a house, numbers are just generally back a bit.”

Mr Dunlop said the company would “look into its armoury of marketing tools” to offset any slowdown, and would resist the option of offering part-exchange or assisted moving.

“We’d rather keep life fairly simply and work with market conditions,” he said. “There has been talk of interest rates going up for a while, when it inevitably does we just have to react to market conditions at that time and maintain our slot in the market place.”

The group has a lower profile than the larger listed housebuilder, but it is currently working on five sites with more than 100 units on and one site with more than 300

“There is no magic to the formula – we just try to provide a better quality of product and better value for money than the PLCs (public limited company),” said Mr Dunlop. “Floorplate sizes are the same and spec is strong, that is the way we’ve operated over 20 years, so we compete with the PLCs.”

Calderwood Village is a ‘Yours’ Sustainable Community and Mr Dunlop said it was designed around the idea of community, with particular importance placed on the planning of streets and inclusion of attractive outdoor space.

The streets, houses and community spaces all contribute to providing a sense of place and a clean, green neighbourhood.

“We’ve handed over about 90 home, so we’re a third of the way through and we’ve had a lot of warm letters of support from planners, which quite honestly are like gold dust,” said Mr Dunlop.

A community hub at the development is currently being maintained by Dundas Estates, before the owners themselves take it on. The centre is part of the company’s effort to create inclusiveness.

“The hub is used for all sorts of things: mother and toddler groups, a running club, a yoga club and there are various parties,” said Mr Dundas. “It’s one thing getting to know neighbours and another to create a community, so it’s been a valuable tool.”

The business is currently looking into a new venture, having just concluded missives on the Corstorphine Hospital site.

This will see Dundas Estates operate a joint venture for the first time. It has teamed up with Sundial on a project which will have 77 or 78 unit, with 32 being refurbishments and the remainder new builds. Mr Dunlop described the project as “unusual for us” given the average selling price of £450,000 to £500,000.

The planning application for the development has been lodged.