“Site visits are the ideal way to learn about housebuilding” by Georgina Russell
Like lots of the other graduate trainees, one of the reasons I chose the Countryside Graduate Programme was the variety it offers. The programme allows us to spend time in a number of different departments, so we can get a feel for all different parts of the business. We also spend days out of the office on site which has been very interesting.
Currently I am working in the Countryside Strategic Land team; before that, I was working with the Housebuilding East Development team, and the Partnerships South (East London) team – so, I have experienced three Countryside divisions.
Going on site visits has definitely been one of the highlights of the graduate programme for me.
So far, I have visited several sites including Fresh Wharf in Barking, which is a Partnerships South (East) development, and, when I started my rotation with Housebuilding East, I visited Beaulieu and St Luke’s Park in Essex.
It is interesting to see how the sites are so different from one another - though they all have Countryside’s distinctive stamp. What really struck me was that the team always put the needs of the community first and so the sites I have seen all incorporate fantastic landscaping and green areas, and placemaking. But the types of homes differ quite a lot, depending on the demand from people living in the area, as well as the needs of, for example, local councils.
Visiting the sites has allowed me to get a feel for the schemes I am working on. Importantly, the visits have really brought the developments to life. I am a very visual learner anyway, but there is still a significant difference between looking at a development plan and seeing the site with your own eyes.
Seeing the developments in person has also allowed me to understand the process behind each site’s master plan and the importance of placemaking. For instance, at St Luke’s Park, there is clear continuation between the phases, aided by careful landscaping, which smooths the transitions between the old and new parts of the development. Looking at the plan, this wouldn’t necessarily jump out at you.
Another reason I have enjoyed the site visits so much is being able to see developments at various stages from pre-construction to completion. Though you might understand the role of the different departments at Countryside, going to site is a chance to see how the different teams interact. It’s a visual reminder of how the business functions - different disciplines working together towards a completed development, beautiful new homes and communities.
The site visits and department rotations have allowed me to develop a clear understanding of how Countryside operates as a business. More than that, the Countryside Graduate Programme is structured in a way that allows you gain a lot of knowledge through first-hand practical experience. In my opinion, this is the ideal way to learn about the housebuilding industry.