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Mark White

Mark White on future developments

By Mark White

Managing Director - Bargate Homes Ltd.

Bargate Homes’ first ever employee became the Managing Director of the reputable house builder last year, a move that is resounding of the company’s ethos of longevity, and their new MD’s commitment and passion for what they do.

With a natural aptitude for maths, Mark White began his career as a Quantity Surveyor and later joined Bargate Homes at its inception. From initially building 20 houses a year, Bargate Homes has generated 75 developments totalling 1200 houses over the last 16 years, and Mark has been involved since the first brick was laid.

Here, the father of four discusses how the credible alternative to national house builders is leaving a future housing legacy for the next generations.

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How would you describe yourself as a leader?

I lead by creating the space for my team to move into and I lead side by side with them.

We've set where we want to go as a business, and I lead alongside them, it’s very much a coaching style of leadership rather than being autocratic.

Our owners (VIVID) are a not-for-profit charity and a leading provider of affordable homes, so we’re driven by our common goal, which is to build more beautiful homes in Hampshire and to give more people access to homes.

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Bargate has a resonating ethos of purpose beyond profit. How important is it for the business to have a positive impact?

We very much have an environmental and social governance theory behind what we do. New Build housing can be sustainable, it can be beautiful, and it can be family living.

We believe that decision-making should be done with the customer at the forefront rather than the profit level. Every business needs to make money to be able to survive and grow, but in our decision-making, the first thing we will look at is how things will affect the customer and their journey.

Housing has so many human elements that there will be imperfections along the way. It’s how we deal with them and how we then resolve them. If it’s the right thing to do, then we need to do it whilst being as economical as we can be.

You take pride in the locality within which you build, can you describe Bargate’s approach to the local community?

Our ethos is to build new communities in rural villages, whilst being very sympathetic to existing communities. We’ve all been set a task by the government to make new houses, our goal is to create the best version of those new houses that we can.

Our developments are what we call tenure-blind. If you drive down the road, you can’t see the difference between the social house and the private house – it’s the same bricks, the same roof tiles, the same windows. It’s very much about blending into and complementing the surroundings.

Curb appeal is a phrase that is probably overused in our industry, but it’s certainly something we genuinely believe in – integrating the developments into the surrounding area.

"Environmental impact and the cost of living are both big influences on the future of building. We want to make our homes more energy efficient, and more self-sufficient."

What makes a Bargate home a Bargate Home?

Bargate homes are individual designs. When you buy a Bargate house you become part of our Bargate family, and you come on our customer journey. On a dedicated one-to-one basis our Customer Experience Manager will help customers to choose tailor-made colours and interiors.

We predesign what we feel is a very family living style. We try to be as agile as we can and constantly evolve our designs in response to the current requirements and trends for family housing.

What do you envisage to be the future of building?

Environmental impact and the cost of living are both big influences on the future of building. We want to make our homes more energy efficient, and more self-sufficient.

I don’t think you’ll ever get to being entirely off-grid on a residential site, but we want to create a lot more self-sufficient homes in communities. If we can create something that is environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and low maintenance for the customer, then that’s our ultimate goal.

What’s your assessment of affordable housing in the UK housing market?

We’re owned by Hampshire’s largest provider of affordable homes and as a group we have a target to develop 2000 additional new houses a year.

House prices will always rise, there will be dips and highs but anything you invest in a house now will be worth more in 10 years’ time. If purchasers can’t afford to buy outright, they should be able to share some of that investment and profit with a shared-ownership house.

Over the next 12 months with interest rates rising, we’re likely to see some levelling out on house prices, but housing will always be one of the most solid investments you can make over a long period of time.

"New Build housing can be sustainable, it can be beautiful, and it can be family living."

Mark White - Managing Director, Bargate Homes Ltd.

What’s the biggest challenge faced by your business and the industry?

The biggest challenge we’ve got is getting school leavers to want to come and join the construction industry. The building industry isn’t just about plumbers and electricians; there are architects, ecologists, archaeologists, designers, sales, customer care; there are so many pathways for people to join the sector. Within Bargate, I want to be able to create a good experience for others to see that it’s worthwhile coming into our industry.

You’re a big music fan; what’s your music taste?

I really love my music. The first single I ever bought was by Motörhead; when I was younger, I was very much into heavy metal. Now I enjoy an eclectic mix of 60s, 70’s Glam rock, 90’s indie music, rap and jazz; I have quite a diverse taste. I listen to Radio X which fits in with my very rock-based love of music. I’ve enjoyed the great progression in British music over the last twenty years.