At home out­side

JAMES HOPKINS, of fam­ily build­ing com­pany Hopkins Homes, tells us about the busi­ness and how he likes to re­lax

EDP Norfolk - - Out Of Office - hop­kin­

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.Š

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