Master Builder Magazine February-March 2020


A fter meeting at an FMB event at the Houses of Parliament in 2015, FMB members Mark Hennessey and Rob Bailey collaborated and formed a development company, ASD Build, to purchase and develop a vacant Victorian school site in Aberdare, South Wales. “I had just completed a two-year course with Cardiff Business School on how small businesses can collaborate, and collaboration was firmly in my mindset at that point,” said Mark. “Me and Rob got talking at the event and decided to keep in touch. When the old school building in Aberdare became available to buy from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council we went in on a joint venture to deliver the scheme.” The school, which dates back to 1908, was closed down in 2014 and after buying the site from the Council

and dragging subcontractors from everywhere, we have employed local people and used local suppliers, so the money goes back into the local area,” said Mark. “And that is one of our values and we want to stick to that.” ASD Build could have demolished the school building, which wasn’t listed, enabling them to create double the amount of apartments on the site, but Mark and Rob were keen to preserve it. “We could have knocked the building down and started from scratch, which would have saved us both time and money,” explained Mark. “However, we wanted to regenerate a building that is not only important to the local community but holds a thousand memories for past generations. The building has got massive historical significance to the local surrounding area and we have given it another 100 years of life.” While ASD Build was initially set up as a one-off special purpose vehicle company for the Aberdare development, it has carved a niche for itself in the affordable housing sector. It now employs 25 people and has a 10-year business plan in place with a steady pipeline of future affordable housing projects including a scheme of 34 apartments for Cardiff Community Housing. “This project has been a real stepping stone to put ASD up there and we have shown that small businesses can deliver 44 affordable homes and do a conservation project at the same time without having to go to the big boys,” said Mark.

Mark and Rob are pictured with Elke Winton, Director of Housing at Hafod Housing, at the development’s official launch which had a “back to school” theme

Mark and Rob decided to develop it for affordable housing. They began the search for a housing association partner and entered into a deal with Hafod Housing to sell the scheme, which comprises 26 apartments for the over 55s, 16 bungalows and two family homes, for £6.64 million. During the course of the build they invested in the surrounding community, employing local people, working with the local supply chain and local contractors and providing apprenticeships and work

experience placements, as well as supporting charities. “Rather than a big public limited company coming in


ASD Build was created by two Master Builders who met at an FMB event. The company has now completed its first

social housing development


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