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Meeting People:
Alison Crofton - Chief Property Officer at Homes England

Meeting People

Knowing me, knowing you

Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us about your current role?

First a confession, I’m not the biggest ABBA fan… I am sure some will stop reading already!

My name is Alison Crofton, Chief Property Officer at Homes England, the housing and regeneration Agency. My team and I accelerate the pace of house building and regeneration as we seek to deliver more homes in the right places and create communities which people are proud to live in.

It’s an exciting and important sector to work in, with our projects being deeply transformative, I get a real sense of our value add when we see a ‘Levelling Up‘ effect on places.  

How did your career path lead you to the industry?

Being a collaborative, you could say, even a creative person at heart, I really didn’t want a career within the traditional office environment, with lots of paperwork, Monday to Friday. My real sense of purpose and joy, comes when I can make an impact on people’s lives.

Our sector offers the ability to be impactful, whether creating someone’s first home, creating a new community, like we are doing in Northstowe, or regenerating a place such as our York Central project.

A job advertisement for a graduate scheme with Berkeley Homes was my first calling and I never looked back.

The ups and downs

What has been the most impactful project you’ve worked on or the project you’re most proud of?

Looking back and forward, I would say I am most proud of the people and teams I have worked with, the customers that have new homes and communities to live in.

As I said on the other question, I do what I do because it’s impactful, every project I have worked on, regardless of scale or tenure, is impactful in its own way.

Development is a complex web of challenges and solutions can only come via collaboration, partnership, and innovative solutions.

What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

There hasn’t been one challenge which sticks out, there are challenges in every career, but it is important to be focused, set clear objectives and timeframes, so actions are concluded. Understanding what good looks like will motivate people and realise solutions.

One recent change in my career has been a shift from the private to the public sector. I would urge people to be open to change in this space, we are one sector, and we are all working together to create a better built environment. My initial views on the public sector have certainly been changed for the better.

Trend setter

What do you see as the current trends shaping the built environment?

Sustainability (net zero) and affordability are key areas which need to be addressed more fully and with greater collaboration, these are not areas which can be tackled individually.

What are the biggest challenges you feel the sector is facing?

Affordability, market resilience, pace, and sustainability.

Crystal ball gazing

What are your predictions for the sector over the next decade?

The industry will need to embrace and understand improving technology, such as AI, at all levels more quickly. AI, I hope, can provide opportunities in design, energy use, modelling, and sustainability. In a time of need, any tool which can be utilised for good, should be.

In terms of new talent, we must inspire future generations to join the industry, supporting their innovation and creativity to bring in a more diverse perspective and help solve the complex areas of development.

At Homes England, as do many others, we support early career development through apprenticeships, internships, graduate programmes, mentoring and coaching. As the senior sponsor of our early careers network and a coach myself, I would encourage anyone to get involved in initiatives or start their own. We have a significant ageing population within our sector, and to continue doing what we are doing, we will need to fill our skills gaps.

Cultural highlights

One celebrity (dead or alive) that you’d like to have dinner with and why.

Amol Rajan, the broadcaster – his insight, knowledge and question-asking would make a very interesting dinner conversation!

Your number one travel destination and why.

The mountains – anywhere, in any season, mountain ranges are always good fun (if you are a skier like me) with amazing scenery, making you feel energised and ready to take on anything.

Passing the baton

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to move into a role like yours?

Ask questions, never stop learning from others (good and bad so you know what to avoid!) and do not be afraid to change direction.

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