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This month, we caught up with our Business Development Manager…

Sophia Fleming!




Tell us about your role.

I’m a Business Development Manager within the Land and New Business Team and have been at Countryside for four years. My team is responsible for the identification and acquisitions of residential development sites within the North West.

What do you love about your job?

No two days are the same! I get to travel all over the North West and meet such diverse and wonderful characters – from scrap yard traders to national corporate landowners. The areas and the land that we work on are all completely unique and can bring with them some challenging, yet interesting, projects.

What’s been your favourite Countryside project to work on, and why?

Quite a few actually, but the most exciting was our recent deal with Peel Holdings for Egerton Grange in Boothstown – a competitive area for developers! The site has had its challenges and I’ve recently been working on the launch of a bus shuttle service for residents in, and around, the development.

Interestingly, the Boothstown acquisition was led entirely by women – even the lawyers on each side were female, which is a first for me!

Egerton Grange is the first in a number of open market, upper quartile developments following such an extreme recession. Plus the whole buying process – from offer to completion – took just over eight weeks, which is amazing.

I am also working on a number of large scale schemes within the region, which will be a huge achievement for myself personally and the Company.

What do you look for when identifying new land to build on?

Cliché but… location, location, location! The proximity to major cities, such as Liverpool and Manchester, is key. Other considerations include a strong housing market demand, ideally no competitor presence close by, a good range of amenities, schools, public transport and distance from the motorway network.

How do you know if an area is going to be popular?

When there’s demand but lack of supply. The most popular sites receive enquiries from prospective purchasers as soon as planning permission is within the planning domain.

Finish this sentence; ‘My dream place to live would be…

…in a new build house on a plot of land that I own. It would have vast open space, a professional chef kitchen, a kid-free room for me (panic room) and a view of the Atlantic Ocean… plus a gin and tonic dispenser built into the fridge!

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