Prue - Land Manager

CALA Homes (Thames) Ltd

Land manager Prue Hodges joined CALA Homes in 2016 after studying land management at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester.

The role has given her the opportunity to progress in her career and CALA is now supporting her in undertaking the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence, in order to become a qualified Chartered Surveyor (MRICS). 

What does your department do?

The Land department is responsible for identifying land opportunities which fit with the current regional land strategy and will deliver future profit into the business. It is our task to acquire land on the best possible commercial terms through effective negotiation. Land opportunities come from a range of sources including land agents, professional networks, land owners, local authorities and pro-active site identification.

We work closely with our planning department to deliver sites into the business with no barriers to getting on site and building homes. Between land and planning, the department has involvement with a site from identification and acquisition right through to the completion of the last home and on-going management.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

A typical day can involve meeting with a land agent to discuss upcoming opportunities, preparing information packs to be sent to registered affordable housing providers or
meeting with our sales team to discuss a new site and the opportunities of that local market. 

The role also allows me plenty of time to get out on site and meet with landowners and agents to view a new opportunity and determine whether it meets the requirements of the CALA Thames business.

What do you like about what you do?

One day I can be sat in a legal meeting negotiating with one of the country’s largest landowners and the next day I can be walking around a construction site. 

No two sites are ever the same, and that is what keeps you engaged with the role. With each site comes a new landowner, a new location, a different planning authority, a new local community, and different physical opportunities and constraints of the land. 

Having the confidence and skills to positively engage with a local residents is key to success in this field. One of the most satisfying elements of the role is witnessing members of the public change their opinion on new development and actively support a planning application due to the public consultation activity we carry out.

Why did you choose this career?

I was exposed to development from an early age, with both my father and grandfather working in the industry. It wasn’t that I simply wanted to “follow in their footsteps” but more that I witnessed the variation in the day-to-day role of a development professional and liked what I saw. 

What qualifications did you need to get this job?

I undertook a Property Agency and Management BScHons degree at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. This was an RICS accredited degree, which means (in theory) it only takes you two years post qualification to become a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Being a member of the RICS isn’t a requirement for development professionals but it is something that I am pursuing and which CALA are supporting me in. 

It is most important to be a proactive, confident and social individual. A solid understanding of negotiation and communication with a diligent approach to deal-making will also get you a long way.

Is there any particular advice you would give to someone looking for a career in your area of work?

Having undertaken a property-related undergraduate degree it would have been easy to fall into a consultancy/agency role along with many of my peers.  I would urge those looking at a career in my field of work to seriously consider the opportunities and versatility which housebuilding and developer-based roles offer. 

The current housing shortage is one of the most politically sensitive and debated issues, with each of the major political parties agreeing on one thing; the supply of new homes needs to increase. The first step in enabling an increase in the supply of new homes is identifying where they are going to go…and that’s where we come in.