At home outside
JAMES HOPKINS, of family building company Hopkins Homes, tells us about the business and how he likes to relax
There has been a lot going on at Hopkins Homes in the last 12 months or so, hasn’t there?
Absolutely! Last year we completed over 1,000 new homes in a year for the first time. In Norfolk we launched several new developments including in Holt, Hunstanton, Overstrand and Wymondham and saw strong sales at our existing sites. We also launched the £500,000 Hopkins Charitable Fund and completed the year by being named Best Medium Housebuilder at the national What House? awards.
What are new home buyers looking for in 2018?
They are demanding more character from new homes. Although buyers are looking for the benefits of a new build, such as ensuite bathrooms, open plan living or better energy efficiency, they also want their home to have character and to suit the surrounding area. We constantly strive to design our communities and homes to reflect nuances in the East Anglian vernacular.
Transforming ‘brownfield’ sites is one of your strengths, isn’t it? Why is that important to you?
We’re committed to ensuring that our homes enhance the local area. Brownfield sites present us a few challenges but they are also a fantastic opportunity, improving derelict areas as well as creating much-needed new homes.
At our Scholars Quarter development in Norwich, site of The Canaries’ former ground, we had to employ some specialist techniques to prepare the land. The resulting development was definitely worth the effort having revitalised an area that played an important role in Norwich’s history.
Tell us about the Hopkins Charitable Fund
Hopkins Homes has always supported local causes and events but last year we expanded this by launching the £500,000 Hopkins Charitable Fund. This fund will see us distribute £500,000 to charities and causes across East Anglia over the next five years via grants, charity votes and a special fund for East Anglia’s war memorials.
Our first grants panel met recently and the recipients will be announced shortly. At the end of last year we asked the public to vote for their favourite charity; Centre81 in Great Yarmouth won and received £7,000, another £3,750 was shared between other local causes.
What do you like to do to relax?
Being outside is my escape; sailing with my sons, taking family walks along East Anglia’s beaches or taking my dogs around my farm. The farm is another passion; I am currently reintroducing hedgerows and planting a large number of trees. I have previously bred Red Poll cattle and Lleyn sheep and really do appreciate the tremendous hard work that producing quality produce entails.
Do you have a favourite place to eat?
Norfolk offers so much from both the land and sea; I am always keen to find somewhere that lets the ingredients take centre stage. The Gunton Arms near Cromer is great at this; they always strive to make the best of what they have on their doorstep – quite literally, given the surrounding deer park.
What’s your best bit of Norfolk?
Norfolk has so much to offer but I think the city of Norwich is my favourite bit. The mix of ancient and modern blends perfectly and the city has wonderful shops for browsing, great restaurants and a fantastic art scene, all of which generates a vibrant, creative atmosphere and gives the city its unique identity.