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Israeli software gurus fly in especially for Open Doors

“I couldn’t imagine working anywhere other than a project like this,” Eamon Melia tells us.

Mr Melia is the project manager at Berkeley Homes’ £1bn Kidbrooke Village regeneration, and our Open Doors guide for the day.

The enthusiastic Mr Melia leads our group in sunny Greenwich around the vast housing development, which stands on the site of the notorious Ferrier state.

Among our group is Billy, a guy in his 20s looking to find a trade, as well as two software developers specialising in developing programmes for site logistics.

The party also includes a journalist from neighbouring Lewisham who has watched from afar as the Ferrier went down and Kidbrooke Village went up.

Ferrier’s brutalist estate was built in the late 60s but has now been transformed into a modern green space, which already houses thousands but will be home to thousands more in the coming years.

The £1bn regeneration, which began in 2007 is undoubtedly impressive – for its sheer scale above all.

A total of 5,000 homes will have been built when it completes in 2030, along with 60 ha of new green space between the homes.

Mr Melia and production director Lee Shorter explain how they took different paths into the industry. Mr Shorter began his construction training at Bromley College, before joining Mowlem and completing a part-time BSCE alongside his site work.

In contrast, Mr Melia began as an apprentice carpenter two decades ago and has worked across London before landing at Berkeley five years ago.

We are shown every facet of the site, from one of the residential blocks being readied for 600 piles through to the complicated district heating system that will supply the homes.

Our tour also takes in the onsite skills centre, which has already produced dozens of apprentices for Berkeley.

As we walk around, I get talking to the two software developers and find out they are from Israel. They must have bolted an Open Doors tour onto a business trip to London, I think.

But no, Open Doors is the sole reason they have come over, and the Kidbrooke project is the third site they have seen this week.

“We saw it on the internet and thought it was a good opportunity – it was only a short flight,” one of the men tells me. “We wanted to see how UK construction sites work.”

Who would have thought it: Open Doors has gone global.

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