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New Research - Our Green Homes Report: What buyers want

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More than three quarters (77%) of homebuyers are likely to consider a green home as their next property.

Green homes will have a significant influence on the UK reaching its net zero 2050 targets, but unless homeowners are happy to live in them, there will be little commercial benefit for housebuilders to construct them.

We wanted to understand the opinions, knowledge and demands of those in the market to purchase a new home – having either recently purchased, or looking to purchase a property in the next 12 months.

We asked 500 first time buyers and ‘second steppers’ whether they were likely to purchase a green home, which green features they were willing to pay more for and their reasons for choosing – or not choosing – a green home.

Key findings

  • More than three quarters (77%) of homebuyers are likely to consider a green home as their next property

  • Top reasons for wanting a green home included it’s ‘better for the environment' (39%), it will ‘save me money in the long run’ (27%) and ‘I want to reduce my energy bills’ (35%)

  • Consumers confirm they are willing to pay more for better energy efficiency and renewable energy sources in their homes.

With bills high on the agenda of many homeowners, now is a good time to increase adoption of green home technology, ahead of 2025 building regulations for net zero coming into force.” said Neil Gosling, head of residential development at Shakespeare Martineau.

Our research also shows that buyers are willing to pay more for features like renewable energy sources and energy-saving measures such as triple glazing – indicating a commercial incentive for developers.

More than a third (34%) of homebuyers also wanted to reduce their carbon footprint and get ahead of the curve, stating: ‘I think eventually all homes will need to be green so I will pre-empt this.

Buyers want more information about green homes

Despite a significant uptake, more than 1 in 3 (35%) respondents who were likely to purchase a green home said they wanted to understand more about how it would benefit them in the future, indicating a gap in knowledge and understanding.

Neil added: “Housebuilders should be doing more to emphasise the health and economic benefits of green homes in their marketing.

Not enough green homes in the Midlands

When it comes to availability, however, of those considering a green home, just 14% of respondents in the Midlands1 said there were green homes available in their desired location, compared to 25% and 24% in the North2 and South3, respectively.

The results also show that age, social class and gender are influencing factors in demands and expectations of green homes.

The age group most likely to consider a green home is 35 to 44-year-olds at 84%, followed by 25 to 34-year-olds (78%).

More than three quarters (76%) of 18 to 24-year olds would opt for a green home, in contrast to just 64% of respondents aged 45 and over.

It’s probably no surprise that the millennial generation is most likely to opt for a green home. This leans into the stereotype that younger generations are more concerned about the environment and also reflects the ageing first time buyer population. - Neil Gosling

Why aren’t people opting for green homes?

Six per cent of respondents said they were unlikely to choose a green home and 18% said they were neither likely nor unlikely.

Almost three quarters (72%) of those who were undecided said it was because they didn’t know enough about it, while 29% said they felt ‘indifferently’ about green homes.

When given a detailed description of what a green home is, 76% of people said they would be more likely to consider purchasing one for their next property.

Neil said: “Our results show that not all is lost when it comes to getting more people on board with green homes. I believe those on the fence can be convinced with the right information and education.

“As a sector, we should be leading with messages that hit both hearts and minds to turn the undecided few. But it’s also important we’re building homes with the features people value and in the locations they want.

“Adoption of green homes at scale is a complex jigsaw that will require canvassing of Government, legislative changes and greater financial incentives for both consumers and those delivering the product. More must be done to encourage larger players in the industry to get behind the cause, so that maximum efficiencies are achieved in the future. There is also need for a significant educational and engagement piece with the public and wider supply chain.

“For the short term, the focus should be on fabrication of housing to secure green homes status, but the potential for positive change on a much larger scale is huge, should the pieces fall into place.

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Neil builds long standing working relationships with our clients by becoming an extension of their business. He is forward thinking and progressive in his approach.

1. ‘Midlands’ refers to those in the West Midlands and East Midlands regions
2. 'North’ refers to those in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber regions
3. 'South’ refers to those in the East of England, South East, South West and Greater London regions

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We wanted to understand the opinions, knowledge and demands of those in the market to purchase a new home – having either recently purchased, or looking to purchase a property in the next 12 months.

We answer the following questions

  • What do buyers want?

  • Are there enough green homes in the midlands?

  • Why aren’t people opting for green homes?

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Take a look at our new eco-friendly office transformation

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Our eco-friendly office transformation

 

Reclaimed pallet-clad walls and ceiling features, booth seating with sustainably sourced fabric, and tables made from recycled yoghurt pots are some of the eco-friendly features that can be found in our first revamped office hub in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon. 

Our space – located in Bridgeway House, just off the A3400 and near the River Avon – is the first in our property portfolio to undergo a major makeover to reflect modern, new ways of working and to fall in line with the goals of COP26.

Earlier this month, we announced our pending B Corporation status and 30 ambitious responsible business pledges, including achieving net-zero by 2025 and becoming carbon negative by 2030. 

To support this, more than 80% of the materials used as part of the refurbishment were sustainably sourced, recycled, or reused – including wall cladding made from reclaimed pallets; tables created using Forest Stewardship Council wood; stools made from recycled cosmetic bottles; upcycled chairs, which have been sprayed and re-covered in sustainably sourced fabric; carbon-neutral flooring solutions; neon lights made from recycled acrylic; energy-efficient LED lightbulbs; and finishing touches, such as Beach Clean coasters created using EVA plastic saved from our oceans. 

We also ensured there was minimal impact on landfill by donating all items of furniture that were unable to be reused or upcycled to local charities, religious groups, schools and community groups. 

Karen Walker, chief transformation officer said: “We’re delighted with the finished look of our Stratford hub – it reflects our personality and aspirations, while demonstrating our investment in and commitment to our people, the town and Warwickshire.  

A collaboration hub

“The office was designed as a collaboration hub, creating a place where our people can come together to undertake tasks and activities better carried out in a face-to-face environment, while also supporting agile working with facilities such as a dedicated Zoom room, large planning surfaces, height-adjustable desks, spaces for confidential conversations, and areas to work away from the desk or hold informal conversations, team meetings or to socialise. 

“Our aim is to have a positive impact in all that we do and contribute to a better and brighter future for our people, communities and environment. Our commitment to achieving our responsible business pledges is part of that target, starting with the Stratford hub. 

“Over the coming 24 months, our wider portfolio of hubs will undergo refurbishments to become modern, eco-friendly spaces that promote collaboration between teams.” 

The transformation also supports our pending B Corporation status. B Corporation organisations are legally required to consider the impact of business decisions on their people, customers, suppliers, communities and the environment; ensuring a balance between purpose, people and profit. 

 

Flexible working is the future

Ben Buckton, our chief marketing and people officer said: “For us, achieving B Corporation status will simply be a by-product of the work we’ve already been doing to become a better and more responsible business for our people, clients and the planet. 

“We want all our people to work where, how and when they need to, to use their time and balance their life effectively. 

“In our latest firm-wide survey, 88% of our people want to continue with flexible working post-pandemic, so we have taken this as an opportunity to redesign the purpose of our hubs to better support networking, training, client meetings and other activities better done face-to-face. 

“We see lots of firms offering flexible working arrangements, yet they still bind their people to fixed rules and commitments. This doesn’t go far enough for us as it doesn’t match the reality of life or the new business world; we want our people to have a true work-life balance. 

“We also know that empowering people is the best motivation, and our positive, high-performance work culture is already attracting top talent and expertise from across the UK, which, in turn, delivers the best quality service for our clients.” 

Other responsible business pledges made by the firm include increasing female representation within the membership by five per cent (currently 33%) and racial diversity by two per cent (currently 8%), as well as supporting teams by training 100% of managers in wellbeing. 

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Working closely with the CEO, CFO, CTO and the Managing Directors of each business unit; Ben is a key driver of our growth strategy – ensuring we make the right investments to develop our people, brands, clients, markets and innovations that unlock potential.

Why Shakespeare Martineau?

On paper we’re a full-service law firm, providing legal services to businesses, organisations, government departments, families and people throughout life and in business. But we offer so much more than that. Expertise, commerciality and relationships are at the very heart of what we do.

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Construction disputes – to adjudicate or not to adjudicate?

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Construction disputes

In most construction disputes there is a familiar proposition that when seeking to settle a dispute, adjudication tends to be a preferred route to dispute resolution as it is quicker and cheaper than court proceedings.

However, in a recent case of Toppan Holdings Ltd and Abbey Healthcare (Mill Hill) Ltd v Simply Construct (UK) LLP [2021] EWHC 2110 (TCC) the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) has clarified the entitlement to adjudicate according to a collateral warranty.

What is adjudication in construction?

Adjudication in construction is a faster and less formal route of dispute resolution than resorting to relatively slow and expensive court proceedings.

The case and parties involved were Toppan Holdings Ltd and Abbey Healthcare  (Mill Hill) Ltd v Simply Construct (UK) LLP

The collateral warranty in question was to Abbey Healthcare, a tenant who had taken a long lease on a property built by Simply Construct.

It was executed four years after practical completion and eight months after remedial works had been carried out by another contractor.

Following an adjudication, Simply Construct resisted enforcement on the grounds that Abbey’s warranty was not a “construction contract” and therefore the adjudicator had no jurisdiction.  The TCC agreed, although this is the first instance and may be subject to appeal and change.

Critically, the TCC held that whilst the warranty was drafted to state that Simply Construct “has performed and will continue to perform diligently its obligations under the Contract”, the reality was that the works had already been completed and, even latent defects had been remedied by other contractors.

Therefore this particular warranty could not be a construction contract for the purposes of statute; it was not contract for the “carrying out of construction operations”.

This decision by the TCC is perhaps a surprise to many in the sector.  The statutory right to adjudicate is often the preferred route to dispute resolution and without this procedure available, the matter is likely to involve lengthy and costly formal litigation proceedings.

Is there a way to ensure an adjudication is still an option?

The answer is yes, but careful drafting of collateral warranties when disputes arise is therefore important.  It is possible to include an express adjudication clause and so not rely on statute.  Had this been included in the collateral warranty to Abbey Healthcare, then Simply Construct’s jurisdictional challenge would have not had merit. Another point to consider, and whilst not always possible, is that it is prudent to execute collateral warranties as early as possible during a project and whilst the construction works are still being carried out.

This case has helped clarify a point of principle regarding the statutory right to adjudicate.  To avoid potential issues in the future a careful review of relevant construction contracts is recommended and where required, express clauses can be inserted into contracts.

For further information on these or any other issues surrounding contracts or disputes contact Jayne Meakin or another member of the construction team in your local office.

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Jayne is a Legal Director with a particular focus in acting for developer’s using JCT procurement. Jayne leads of a broad range of projects working closely with colleagues in our property and corporate teams.

Construction Law

Our construction lawyers know what it is to be in your boots – some literally, after previous careers in building surveying – so we don’t sit on the fence.

Our advice is direct, perceptive and commercial, adding efficiency to any stage of a construction project.

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Shakespeare Martineau advises on purchase on Britain's 'most expensive street'

Deal

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Luxury residential real estate purchase deal

London and Monaco real estate company REDD has purchased One Palace Green in Kensington Palace Gardens, London, to convert into a £100m luxury residential scheme, with the support of law firm Shakespeare Martineau.

The grade II*-listed 17,000 sq ft mansion, which backs onto Kensington Palace and dates back to 1870, will be sensitively restored and converted into a number of luxury homes following significant investment.

The deal saw REDD purchase the property via a complex multi-jurisdictional deal.

Simon Robinson, partner at Shakespeare Martineau advised REDD on the transaction, he said: “It is rare that high value investment and development real estate deals are simple, even when they look so initially. We always knew there would be complexities in this multi-jurisdictional matter but over the course of the year that we sat alongside REDD and the Marzocco family office we worked through a plethora of technical, legal and commercial challenges that were embedded this real estate purchase. 

Working under considerable pressure throughout the stages of the deal the importance of working as a connected team across our specialist departments - almost entirely virtual - was vital. From a personal perspective, the communication within the Shakespeare Martineau team enhanced our project management role and allowed me to interact regularly and as clearly as possible with the client and their wider team. This was highlighted as we worked with Counsel in across four separate offshore jurisdictions, dealing with a prestigious and sensitive listed property which is part of the Crown Estate.

Working closely with the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, The Crown Estate, local stakeholders and heritage groups to design the restoration, it’s anticipated REDD will submit a planning application later this year with construction planned for summer 2022. Completion is scheduled for 2024.

Russell Smithers, managing director of REDD, said: “One Palace Green is a landmark acquisition for REDD and will create one of the top-tier luxury residential developments in London. We will utilise our in-house development management expertise, with our team of extremely experienced individuals in the fields of heritage restoration and luxury design, to deliver the finest new residences on Kensington Palace Gardens. We are currently working on initial ideas and look forward to speaking to the local community shortly.

Shakespeare Martineau assisted with all legal aspects of the purchase including real estate, corporate, finance and tax. Working alongside Simon Robinson was Danielle Cooper, Lucy Saddington, Catherine Moss, Georgia Keogh, Christopher von Strandmann, Oliver Gutman, Joshua Hartle, Paul Wakefield and Jayne Meakin.

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Simon is a commercially focused and entrepreneurial real estate expert known for his calm, practical and commercial approach.

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News

Marrons Planning launches urban design with new associate director hire

Midlands planning consultancy Marrons Planning has extended its portfolio of services with the appointment of architect and urban design expert Alex Craggs.

Specialising in bespoke residential projects and master planning urban design schemes, RIBA chartered architect Alex will take the role of associate director and be heading up the new Marrons Urban Design service, which will complement the consultancy’s existing planning services: including planning applications and appeals as well as promoting developments and planning strategy.

With more than 10 years’ experience working with a range of clients from strategic land promoters and developers to private clients and home owners, Alex will be responsible for setting up the new service line and growing the team in the future.

Andy Gore, Partner at Marrons Planning, said: “This is a really exciting new venture for Marrons Planning and one that will allow us to provide illustrative layouts, design and access statements, promotion documents, concept plans and more.

“We’re well known for providing planning advice that helps inform our clients’ decision making process, driving projects forward and using our close working relationships with Local Planning Authorities to help unlock strategic sites; but now we will also be able to provide our clients with brilliant designs that are underpinned by a deep understanding of commercial complexities, local authority requirements and planning strategy.

“We’re thrilled to have Alex join our team.

Alex has experience working in a variety of sectors including residential, conservation, mixed-use, commercial and leisure, taking projects from inception through to completion.

Alex, who was previously associate director for BHB Architects said: “I was attracted to Marrons Planning because of their enthusiasm and track record in gaining successful outcomes for their clients. I’m excited to bring design expertise to Marrons Planning to allow them to offer their clients a high quality design offering in conjunction with their established planning services.

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Guides & Advice

Your summer guide to recovery and resilience in COVID-19

Your updated summer guide to recovery and resilience

As the UK takes its first steps to ease the current national restrictions and looks forward to an increase in economic activity and recovery it is vital that businesses are prepared in every aspect.

To support businesses and people navigate their way out of the last year and the current national restrictions, unlock their potential and drive for a brighter future, we have updated our guide to recovery and resilience.

From financial considerations, employees, leadership and premises, to supply chain implications, health and safety and protecting your private wealth, our guide highlights what organisations and individuals should consider when moving from survival to recovery to thrive.

Financial considerations

Whether a large corporate with a highly structured board, an SME or an owner-managed business, the financial viability of a business is key to its future success.   However, as the thoughts turn to the roadmap out of lockdown once again, and what the future may look like, businesses that have got through the last year should consider a range of measures to enable them to cope with what is likely be a recession for some industry sectors of the UK. Prudent business owners will be well aware of the predictions and while there will be a bounce back it may take some time for confidence and stability to return from customers and suppliers.

Your employees

Managing a workforce of any size can have its challenges, let alone one that is recovering from a global crisis. Many businesses will have furloughed employees or made the difficult decision to make a number of their workforce redundant. For those businesses that haven’t, it’s highly likely they will still face having to make difficult choices, albeit further down the line.

The knock-on effects of the COVID-19 outbreak have changed the way employers engage with and effectively manage, their employees. The processes, policies and guidelines that worked previously may no longer be fit for purpose for your business, or for your workforce, in the new working landscape. With the rollout of the COVID vaccine facilitating the gradual return of employees back into the physical workplace, this in itself will bring a host of new opportunities and challenges.

Buildings, workspaces and leases

As the world and economy move forward out of lockdown, owners and investors of real estate as well as occupying tenants will have to consider the adjustments they now need to make whilst the restrictions around social distancing continue.
They will need to find new ways of working and inevitably different ways to use their space over the coming months and, at the same time, consider how to manage the cost of premises in these changed circumstances.

Suppliers and supply chain

Many businesses have struggled to comply with their contractual obligations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and may have been forced to rethink their supply chains. A focus in recent years on minimising costs, reducing inventories and maximising asset utilisation has often resulted in a reduced ability to cope with disruption. Whilst the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in modern times, disruption to the global economy is an increasing risk, whether due to political events such as Brexit, US-China trade tensions, or climate change.

Private wealth, family businesses and family

The effects of COVID-19 will undoubtedly have a huge impact on our economy for years to come, with many businesses collapsing under the strain and the level of unemployment set to rise significantly. However, what is less widely reported on is the effect it is having and will continue to have, on families and personal wealth. We’ve already seen that the pandemic has led to an increase in people looking at how they may pass on their wealth to the next generation –and even more so for those that own family businesses.

Compliance – Health and safety

Employers have clear duties under existing health and safety legislation. Obligations to comply with health and safety at work, and to manage and control workplace risks, includes protecting workers and others from the risk of COVID-19 infection in the workplace. That duty is to do everything “reasonably practicable” to manage these risks. The onus of demonstrating that everything reasonably practicable has been done falls to the employer. The best way to demonstrate compliance with the law is usually to follow government and industry-led guidance wherever possible.

Leadership

Strong leadership is a cocktail of authenticity, collaboration, passion, compassion, and a great deal of bravery. We all know the best results occur when we are pushed out of our comfort zones and the ingredients are shaken up, and COVID-19 has done exactly that. With government guidance signalling the UK’s route out of current national restrictions, the time for positive leadership is now. It’s time to take control of what we can and create an environment with enough certainty where people can feel safe enough to flourish centre stage.

We are here to help

The team here at Shakespeare Martineau remain committed to supporting our clients and our communities throughout these challenging times, with

the depth of experience, collaborative ethos and the creative know-how to lead positively to the future.  We are able to offer advice and solutions on a range of subjects for life and business - from employment and general business matters, through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes to issues affecting family businesses, personal wealth planning and family law. Do contact us on 03300 240 333

 

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News

Shakespeare Martineau boosts legal planning team with double hire

We have welcomed two new property specialists to our Midlands teams; legal planning partner Anna Cartledge and legal planning legal director Julie Russell.

Operating from the Birmingham hub, Anna Cartledge has more than 15 years’ experience in legal planning, compulsory purchase and highways law, acting for a variety of public and private sector clients throughout her career including landowners, promoters, developers, local authorities, central government agencies, regional development agencies, and various NHS Trusts.

Anna has a particular interest in heritage issues and has advised a number of local authorities and private sector developers on various listed building consents. Anna is also highly experienced in negotiating planning obligations with complex cascade, review and clawback mechanisms, and she frequently advises on the best way to structure large scale sites so as to allow them to come forward on a phased basis.

Legal director Julie Russell join’s the firm’s Leicester hub with more than 14 years’ experience, working on all aspects of legal planning, development and infrastructure work. Julie has particular experience in dealing with Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects and negotiating complex S106 agreements and infrastructure and highways agreements as well as providing strategic planning advice to housebuilders, commercial developers, landowners and local planning authorities.

She also regularly deals with planning enforcement, public rights of ways issues, planning appeals, planning due diligence on site acquisitions and challenges to planning permissions.

Anna said: “I am very much looking forward to being part of such a highly regarded and market leading planning team, full of supportive people who want to work together to flourish and grow the business. There is a real energy and sense of dynamism across the firm as a whole.

Alex Smith, managing director of the infrastructure and specialist markets business unit said: “We have a great reputation in real estate and work closely with our planning consultancy Marrons Planning to provide a holistic service to clients. From small listed buildings to large development projects, planning is a complex area law and it requires specialist knowledge, both Anna and Julie have great expertise and are well-placed to advise clients across the Midlands and nationally.

Anna and Julie’s appointment follow a raft of announcements including 13 internal promotions, six appointments in Milton Keynes and a further two in the East Midlands.

 

Getting to know Anna Cartledge, Legal Planning Partner…

What attracted you to Shakespeare Martineau? 

I was drawn to the culture and values of the firm, and the value that it places on empowering and recognising the efforts of everyone. Shakespeare Martineau has a very clear direction and a real “can-do” attitude and, since joining, I have been hugely impressed and enthused by the energy at all levels.

The planning team has a market leading reputation and I was very much drawn to joining a business that has both legal and town planning capability under one roof, which is a real USP in the planning sphere.

Tell us more about what you find exciting about your area of expertise.

As an area of law, planning is ever-evolving, fast-paced and diverse - no two days are the same! When we are faced with 'knotty issues' there are often shades of grey, rather than a definitive “yes or no” answer. The queries we face are often like exam questions, dealing with everything from strategic land allocations and heritage issues, to footpaths and common land queries.

Our role in navigating the planning world for our clients often becomes more of tactical and strategic advisor, with planning advice dovetailing other considerations and agreements.

For example., there can be frustration around the length of time it takes for a scheme to navigate its way through the planning system. While increased efficiencies within the system should be welcomed, this should be balanced against recognition of the importance of the planning system in terms of delivering meaningful and sustainable development, and in developing functional and attractive places to live and work. We need to empower new communities to be able to thrive.

What do you hope to achieve while working with us?

Having been a mentor for a number of years now, I firmly believe in the benefits mentoring can bring - both for those being mentored and those with mentees. I am hugely passionate about developing and nurturing future talent and want to work with those starting their careers at the firm, whether that's in the legal profession or not!

I am also keen to capitalise on all of the exciting opportunities coming forward in and around the Midlands – from the start on site of HS2 at Curzon Street, to proposed strategic infrastructure improvements on key highways networks and the delivery of meaningful housing numbers, there's certainly a lot of exciting things in the pipeline for the region!

How can we help?

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Marrons Planning has been recognised at prestigious planning industry awards

Our planning consultancy team Marrons Planning, alongside Leicester City Council, has been highly commended in the category for Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy at the national Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2021.

They received the commendation at last night’s virtual awards for their involvement in the Great Central Square project in Leicester.

The RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence are the most established and respected awards in the UK planning industry. Running for over 40 years, they celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society.

Great Central Square is a £60m regeneration scheme connecting the Waterside area of Leicester to the heart of the city centre. The scheme comprises two hotels, 33,000 sq. ft. of Class A office space and the refurbishment of the former Great Central Railway Station to 20,000 sq. ft. of leisure space. The scheme includes a pedestrian super-crossing and public open realm and occupies one of the most prominent positions in Leicester city centre, directly opposite John Lewis and Highcross Shopping Centre. It has been a catalyst for a £200m regeneration renaissance in the city and its delivery is a great exemplar of public and private sector co-operation.

Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy

The award for ‘Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy’ recognises projects that support and promote a successful prosperous economy.

On awarding Marrons Planning and Leicester City Council with the commendation the judges said:

“They were impressed by the development of this long standing brownfield site in the Leicester city centre. The project kept multiplier value in the local area by keeping the majority of investment within a 30 mile radius of the site and provided apprenticeships, employment and training. The judges were impressed by the community benefit of the project.”

Commenting on the recognition, Brian Mullin, head of Marrons Planning, said:

“I’m absolutely thrilled that the team has been endorsed by our RTPI peers, especially at national level, and being up against some excellent projects. This achievement is a fantastic acknowledgement of the contribution that Marrons Planning and Leicester City Council has made to the city, as well as recognising the value of working partnerships with the public sector.

“The team are worthy winners and we are all very proud of the positive difference our work makes to help transform local communities, environments and economies.”

Planning Consultancy of the Year finalist

In addition for being commended for our work on Great Central Square, Marrons Planning was also recognised as a finalist in the prestigious national award for ‘Planning Consultancy of the Year’.  This follows being named as the winners of the coveted award at the regional East Midlands awards back in November 2020.

On being recognised as finalists at the national awards Brian Mullin said:

“I’m absolutely thrilled that the team has been endorsed by our national RTPI peers. As a firm we are proud and fortunate to have a team with great depth and superb technical knowledge who strive to consistently deliver excellent results by understanding our clients’ objectives and building lasting relationships.”

Read more about Marrons Planning and how we can help our clients plan for every eventuality.

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Women in Planning mentoring scheme launches for International Women’s Day 2021

Women in Planning is launching a mentoring scheme today (8 March) to coincide with International Women’s Day. The scheme aims to bring together individuals who are seeking support and guidance on their career development from more experienced professionals.

The aim is to ‘buddy up’ mentor and mentees with the best fit in the matching process.  Applications are open to all those working within the planning sector, from students through to those working in the boardroom.

Women in Planning leads change in the planning and built environment industry by making women visible, promoting diversity and inclusion, and supporting career development - and the mentoring scheme enables them to meet this objective.

Kylie Wesson, legal director in our planning team, sits on the East Midlands Women in Planning Committee. Commenting on the launch of the scheme Kylie said:

“The mentoring scheme working group, made up of the East and West Midlands committees, has been collaborating throughout the pandemic to launch this initiative. We wanted to focus on how best to support less experienced members and those looking to develop their careers, not only during this difficult time but even more so with the challenging times ahead.”

Jessica Herritty, Chair of the East Midlands Committee said:

“We are really excited to launch the Scheme on International Women’s Day and hope it will provide meaningful connections and support for people in our network over the course of the next year.”

Emma Cartledge-Taylor, Chair of the West Midlands Committee said:

“Women in Planning was set up to empower women and support them throughout their careers. We are passionate about the Scheme and it is fantastic extension of that promise and will contribute to this year’s theme of ‘Choose to Challenge’.”

Contact us  

To find out more about the scheme please contact Kylie Wesson.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

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Marrons Planning shortlisted as finalists for two awards at the national RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence 2021

Finalist

Following on from Marron Planning’s win at the RTPI East Midlands Awards for Planning Excellence in November 2020, the team has been shortlisted for Planning Consultancy of the Year at the national RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence, taking place later this year.

Marrons Planning have also successfully partnered with Leicester City Council to be shortlisted as finalists in the Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy category, being recognised for their work on the £60m regeneration scheme of Great Central Square at Vaughan Way in Leicester.

View the full list of all the shortlisted firms and projects.

The national RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence

The awards have been running for over 40 years and celebrate the exceptional work undertaken by town planners across the country. This year the awards will also showcase and recognise planners’ commitment to supporting the challenges faced by communities as a result of the pandemic

The ‘Planning Consultancy of the Year’ award recognises the achievements of planning consultancies that have demonstrated high levels of service, commitment to sustainable development and support for the planning profession.

The ‘Award for Excellence in Planning Practice’ recognises those projects that promote and support a successful prosperous economy.

Great Central Square is a high-quality £60m regeneration scheme, occupying one of the most prominent positions in Leicester city centre. The project has been a catalyst for a £200m regeneration renaissance in the city. The scheme comprises two hotels, 33,000 sq. ft. of Class A office space and the refurbishment of the locally listed former Great Central Railway Station to 20,000 sq. ft. of leisure space. A pedestrian super-crossing also connects the Waterside area of Leicester to the heart of the city centre.

Commenting on being shortlisted as a finalist in two categories, Brian Mullin, head of Marrons Planning, said:

“Marrons Planning are delighted to be shortlisted for ‘Planning Consultancy of the Year’, and together with Leicester City Council, to be shortlisted for ‘Excellence in Planning Practice’ too for our work to deliver Great Central Square in Leicester.

“The last year has been a tough time for everyone. We have taken much strength from supporting each other across the public and private sectors and the RTPI has provided a valuable platform to foster and celebrate that collaboration.”

The winners will be announced via a virtual ceremony on 29 April.

Read more about Marrons Planning and how we can help our clients plan for every eventuality.

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Marrons Planning win the double at the RTPI East Midlands Awards for Planning Excellence

We’re delighted that Marrons Planning has won not one, but two, awards at this year’s RTPI East Midlands Awards for Planning Excellence.

As well as being named Planning Consultancy of the Year 2020, the team were also presented the Award for Excellence in Planning Practice alongside Leicester City Council for our involvement in the Great Central Square project in Leicester. 

The RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence are the longest-running and most high-profile awards in the planning industry. For over 40 years they have recognised the achievements and celebrated projects, plans and people who have helped create exceptional and improved places to live and work. 

The coveted ‘Planning Consultancy of the Year’ award recognises the achievements of planning consultancies that have demonstrated high levels of service, commitment to sustainable development and support for the planning profession. 

On awarding Marrons Planning with the prestigious award, the judges acknowledged that the team “demonstrated exemplar commitment to supporting and developing their people. 

The ‘Award for Excellence in Planning Practice’ recognises those projects that promote and support a successful prosperous economy.  

Great Central Square is a £60m regeneration scheme connecting the Waterside area of Leicester to the heart of the City Centre. The scheme comprises two hotels, 33,000 sq. ft. of Class A office space and the refurbishment of the locally listed former Great Central Railway Station to 20,000 sq. ft. of leisure space. The scheme includes a pedestrian super-crossing and public open realm and occupies one of the most prominent positions in Leicester City centre, directly opposite John Lewis and Highcross Shopping Centre. The project has been a catalyst for a £200m regeneration renaissance in the city. 

On announcing Marrons Planning and Leicester City Council as the winners of the award, the judges noted the key winning aspects of the project were the huge benefit it will bring to the community and the use of trialling new build techniques such as modular construction. The judges also praised the approach taken to build for owner-occupiers and multi-decade leases as an excellent example ensuring good place making.” 

Sir Peter Soulsby, Mayor of Leicester...

This is well deserved recognition for an excellent scheme that is the result of close partnership working between the developer Charles Street Buildings, their consultants Marrons Planning and our own expert staff here at the council.

“It is another example of how the regeneration of Leicester’s Waterside is attracting developers and investors to help realise our ambitious vision for this important part of the city.

“The resulting scheme – and in particular the wonderful restoration of the former Great Central station – is something very special indeed.

Also commenting on the win, Brian Mullinhead of Marrons Planning, said: 

“I’m absolutely thrilled that the team has been endorsed by our RTPI peers with these awards. Any firm is only as good as its people and we are fortunate to have team with great depth and superb technical knowledge, who strive to understand their client objectives, build lasting relationships and consistently deliver excellent results.” 

 “The achievement of winning two awards is an acknowledgement of the contribution that the whole team has made and, in the case of Great Central Square, the value of our working partnership with the public sector. The team are worthy winners and we are very proud of the positive work we do helping to transform economies, environments and communities. 

Read more about Marrons Planning and how we can help our clients plan for every eventuality. 

 

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Guides & Advice

Shakespeare Martineau supports the sale of head office of Nottingham software firm

The Nottingham real estate team has supported Three Peaks Nottingham Limited with the sale of 1 Mere Way on Ruddington Field Business Park, to Corum XL for £6.3m.

Positioned at the entrance to Ruddington Fields Business Park, the 28,696 sq. ft. building is the head office of Nottingham software firm Ideagen. The office space is let to them on a 15-year lease.

The business park is just six miles to the south of Nottingham, with great access and connections to the city centre via the A60. Other occupiers of the premier development include Experian, Vision Express, Capita, Emtec College and Quotient Clinical.

Advising Three Peaks Nottingham Limited, Peter Dilks and Hannah Awcock advised on all legal aspects of the deal, helped to ensure that the timetable for completion was achieved.

Peter Dilks, partner in our real estate team, said: “The completion of this sale is positive news for Nottingham and indicates the real estate market is starting to bounce back. Although COVID-19 may have initially put a temporary halt on investment, the return of deals of this scale shows that there are still plenty of opportunities within the real estate market in the East Midlands.

“We’ve been working with Three Peaks Nottingham for many years and feel privileged to be able to continue to support them with their future plans.”

Michael Johal, director of Three Peaks Nottingham, added: “We are very pleased to have concluded this sale swiftly, even within a climate of uncertainty, as well as concluding the lease term during the COVID-19 disruption. This underscores the fact there is demand for property investment and a good outlook for well-located assets.”

Read more about some of the ways we’ve supported our clients over the past few months.

Contact us

For more information about how our real estate and planning team can support your growth plans, contact us or speak to a member of your local commercial development team.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

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Building for a Healthy Life: putting wellbeing at the forefront of housing

Building for a Healthy Life: putting wellbeing at the forefront of housing

Lockdown has highlighted that the UK housing crisis isn’t purely about quantity, it’s also about quality. A form of revolution is needed, with developers adding residents’ wellbeing to their priority lists, as well as speed.

Luckily, the recent launch of ‘Building for a Healthy Life’ (BHL) could be the answer.

Read the Building for a Healthier life toolkit publication here.

The impact of unsuitable housing

Well-lit private spaces and nearby green areas are no longer added extras, they are necessities. For the many people who live in urban areas with limited access to these, the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health, having stopped them from being able to escape their four walls.

Space saving is often the main focus for city developments, ensuring maximum capacity in a minimal area. However, this approach doesn’t consider wellbeing and instead relies on residents being able to leave to meet their wider basic needs.

This one-size-fits all approach to the housing crisis is not an effective solution, and it’s time to try something new.

What is Building for a Healthier Life (BHL)?

Backed by Homes England, BHL has been created to replace ‘Building for Life 12’ (Bfl 12). Simply put, the goal of these new guidelines is to encourage housing developers to weave health and wellbeing into their plans.

BHL’s predecessor, BfL 12, was made up of 12 set questions designed to help assess the quality of housing schemes. Aspects such as facilities, tenure types and private spaces were covered, but many used it as a quick tick-box system, rather than truly considering how they could improve their sites.

However, BHL appears to have moved away from this question and answer process.

‘How-to’ guides for healthy spaces

The purpose of BHL is for architects and planners to submit evidence that shows exactly how wellbeing elements are to be implemented.

By providing visual aids that act as “how to” guides for healthy spaces, BHL enables developers to pick and choose the design cues that they feel would benefit their own housing schemes.

Wellbeing considerations

There is one thing that BHL has taken from BfL 12, and that is the idea of having 12 main considerations for developers. These have been split into three categories:

  • Integrated neighbourhoods;
  • Distinctive places; and
  • Streets for all.

Individual elements include ‘homes for everyone’, ‘well defined streets and spaces’ and ‘green and blue infrastructure’.

Each element should be taken in context with the development, rather than followed as a checklist, to ensure the result will fully benefit all residents.

Building long-term housing is essential

In future, decision makers must ensure that wellbeing considerations are included in development plans wherever possible. Although speed is still necessary to tackle the housing crisis, homes built for the long-term must become part of the solution. Hopefully, BHL and the pandemic will lead to more developers building with health in mind.

Helping you to achieve the best outcome

If you’re in the early stages of a development, we can help you to utilise the toolkit. Our team of specialist town and country planners will guide you through the process and work alongside you to demonstrate to the decision-maker why your scheme has been designed in a specific manner.

Contact us

For advice and support on how you can use BHL to your advantage, or any other planning query, contact Sachin Parmar  and Brian Mullin in our planning consultancy team Marrons Planning.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

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Real Estate & Planning

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Biodiversity Net Gain – opportunities and obligations for developers and landowners alike

11 Apr

Real Estate & Planning

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Guides & Advice

CCGs, GPs and LPAs: It’s time to work together

CCGs, GPs and LPAs: It’s time to work together

Even without COVID-19, a huge number of primary care providers have been running at full capacity for years. Pressure to meet care and quality targets is only going to increase as the population grows and underfunding and frequent financial penalties will make this even harder.

COVID-19 has had devastating effects on the healthcare sector, and primary care providers now have the chance to seek increased financial contributions from developers. Collaboration between Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), GPs and Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) will be key to securing the future of the UK’s healthcare service.

Funding for expansion

A new residential development will inevitably impact primary care providers as a wave of new patients appear. Often, the only solution is to expand, increasing capacity and lessening the pressure on the service. However, this costs money that many GP surgeries or healthcare providers simply may not have, and therefore contributions towards this burden should be something that the developers plan to support right from the start.

Factors such as the number of homes and the development population should be considered, and the funding the care provider is entitled to then based on this.

Community infrastructure levy (CIL) regulations

Initially, CIL regulations had pooling restrictions that limited the funding that care providers could receive to just five agreements. Recent planning reforms mean this is no longer the case, allowing providers to seek provision from as many agreements as needed, where the development is set to affect their services.

It is vital that care providers take action to secure any opportunity for funding that is presented to them.

Engaging with the planning process

Monitoring for new developments should become part of normal business for CCGs and GPs. When one does appear, they should engage with the planning process early on and respond to applications as and when they come in.

Primary care providers should also engage with policy at a local level, ensuring that it supports the financial requests they may consider submitting as new developments arise. Proactive engagement is essential.

Prioritising administration

The day-to-day care of patients will always be healthcare’s main priority, but that doesn’t mean administration can be forgotten. Unless primary care providers have adequate resourcing, it will be difficult to make the most of these funding opportunities. Employing consultants could be one way to stay on top of policy changes and applications to make sure they can be actioned efficiently.

Now more than ever, collaboration between LPAs, housing developers and care providers is necessary. The services that the healthcare sector offers are vital, and we need to ensure that it has the funding it needs to withstand any - and all - future challenges.

Read more about our healthcare expertise.

Contact us

For guidance and support on how we can help you to secure the future of the UK’s healthcare service, contact Paul Wakefield in our legal planning team.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

SHMA® ON DEMAND

Listen to our SHMA® ON DEMAND content covering a broad range of topics to help support you and your business.

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Real Estate & Planning

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A return to “hybrid working”? – What would this mean for staff wellbeing?

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Employment

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Guides & Advice

Planning White Paper | Planning for the Future

Planning White Paper | Planning for the Future

Today (Thursday 6 August) saw the launch of the new government White Paper - Planning for the Future

The overarching thrust is to overhaul the planning system, bring it into the 21st Century, and to make the system “simpler, faster and more predictable”, by “cutting red tape, but not standards”.  There is to be an increased focus on technology, with interactive and accessible map-based online systems replacing notices on lampposts.

What’s wrong with the current planning system?

The paper starts by highlighting issues in the current planning system, such as:

  • the length of time it takes to adopt a Local Plan;
  • the complexity of assessing housing need and viability;
  • the inherent discretionary nature of the system; and
  • the simple fact that not enough homes are being built.

The paper also seeks to highlight the government’s changes to the system since 2010[1] and the abolition of regional strategies, unelected regional planning bodies and empowering communities through neighbourhood planning, and the simplification of the system through the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework – making no mention of the Planning Practice Guidance.

What are the proposed changes?

Local Plans

The proposed changes are for simplified Local Plans, which will be required to categorise land under three separate categories:

  • Growth - areas suitable for substantial development, where outline approval would be automatically secured;
  • Renewal - areas suitable for some development, such as ‘gentle densification’; and
  • Protected - areas where development is restricted.

Local Plans are to set ‘clear rules’, rather than general policies for development - although development plan policies were already key to decision making).

What is more relevant for Local Plans, is that the underpinning evidence base appears likely to go, with a single statutory “sustainability development” test coming in instead.

Going digital

Standardisation and digitisation are both being pushed, which should allow for better transparency and access for all.  Similarly, moving public consultation online may speed the process, albeit as COVID has highlighted, the availability and accessibility of online resources is not currently equal across society, with the elderly and those on very low incomes suffering disproportionately.  If notices on lampposts are to go, then the opportunities for some to engage in planning may also be diminished.

Beautiful buildings and communities

The reforms will also mean the creation of a ‘fast-track system’ for approving the design of beautiful buildings – with communities at the heart of the new system. However, given that beauty is subjective, it remains to be seen how this sits with the new clear rules which are designed to give certainty.

New Infrastructure Levy

Section106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy are to go, to be replaced by an Infrastructure Levy which is intended to sweep away delay caused by negotiating s.106 contributions and arguments over viability.  However, at present this seems fraught with challenges, with the prospect of “average build costs” being used as a means of assessing the value of a development.

Given the huge disparity in build costs between a heavily contaminated brownfield site and an uncontaminated greenfield one, or between e.g. central London and central Lincolnshire, this would seem to be prone to unintended consequences, and could lead to developers seeking to find ways to reduce actual build costs to increase profitability.

Contractual arrangements

It’s also worth noting that the White Paper sets out a desire to consult upon improving the data held on contractual arrangements used to control land, to “promote competition amongst developers”.  Whether a push to record private contracts on the public record survives the consultation remains to be seen.

Strengthening enforcement powers for local authorities

The paper talks about strengthening enforcement powers for local authorities.  Given that these are already extensive, it is unclear what else needs to be done, albeit the promise of introducing stronger powers to address “intentional unauthorised development” could well see a great deal of debate as to whether or not any unauthorised development was deliberate.

What are the next steps?

The consultation runs until 29 October 2020, during which time the government will consult with local government experts, planners, lawyers and the local community on the proposals. Judging by some of the proposals, the ramifications of the white paper could last a lot longer.

[1] Which a pedant might highlight were therefore begun under the Coalition government rather than the current Conservative one 

Contact us
For advice or guidance on how these proposals may affect your developments, or on any other legal planning query, contact Paul Wakefield in our planning team.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

SHMA® ON DEMAND

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Peter Snodgrass, Partner & Head of Agriculture
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Guide

Use Classes | Change of Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order

Use Classes | Change of Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order

Last week the government announced significant changes to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order, which could radically alter the appearance of towns and cities across the country.

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 proposes the amalgamation of a number of existing use classes into new wider use classes.

Our handy one-page guide outlines the changes to the use classes order in England.

This is significant because, in accordance with the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, planning permission is only required for a “material change of use” and as such, changes of use which fall within the same overarching use class will be permitted without the need for an express grant of planning permission.

What this will mean is that local planning authorities will not be able to control the changing nature of commercial buildings, with owners and occupiers having far greater flexibility in what they choose to do with their units.

Read our blog on how redundant commercial buildings can be repurposed into new homes without planning permission.

The broader categories will also potentially allow for greater subdivision of premises, with different users occupying the same space all operating under the umbrella of an overarching use class.

What are the changes?

The changes, which come in to force on 1 September 2020, will create two new uses classes:

  • Class E - commercial, business and service; and
  • Class F
    • Class F.1 (learning and non-residential institutions); and
    • Class F.2 (local community).

It also moves some uses that were previously covered by the use classes order (and which benefitted from certain permitted changes) into the list of uses which cannot be included in a specified class.

Class E will comprise the previous shops (A1), financial and professional services (A2), restaurants and cafes (A3) and offices (B1), together with uses such as gyms, nurseries and health centres (D1 and D2).

The new Learning and non-residential institutions class (F1) will include former D1 uses, which are more likely to involve buildings in wider public use such as school, libraries and art galleries.

Local community uses (Class F2) will include former D2 uses, which provide for group activities of a physical nature such as swimming pools, skating rinks and areas for outdoor sports.  It also includes smaller shops serving local communities.

Residential uses (Class C), general industrial (B2) and storage and distribution (B8) remain unchanged

The previous separate categories for drinking establishments (A4) and hot food takeaways (A5) are removed, and those uses will thereafter be classified as sui generis.  The same will also apply to cinemas, concert, dance and bingo halls (which were previously within class D2).

Transitional arrangements

As of 1 September, there will be some transitional arrangements in place to allow for the use of historic permitted changes, however, these will only be in place until 31 July 2021.  The same is true of relevant Article 4 directions.

Take action now

Our handy one-page guide sets out the planned changes to the use of classes from 1 September 2020. If you are looking at taking on, or converting, a building you should double check the new regulations, as it may be that the new proposals make it easier (or in some cases harder) to change the existing use.  Equally, when considering letting properties, landlords will want to have regard to the types of uses they are willing to accept in their buildings.

Contact us

For advice and support on how these changes may affect your developments, or any other legal planning query, contact Paul Wakefield in our planning team.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

SHMA® ON DEMAND

Listen to our SHMA® ON DEMAND content covering a broad range of topics to help support you and your business.

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Peter Snodgrass, Partner & Head of Agriculture
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Guides & Advice

Billions promised to kick start the economy

Billions promised to kick start the economy

Welcome news for housebuilders, registered providers, developers and planning authorities.

Promises to ‘build build build’ and to put infrastructure, planning and skills at the centre of the Government’s plans to kick start the economy were announced today along with a host of others measures totalling billions of pounds.

As part of a "new deal", Mr Johnson also set out plans to "bring forward" £5bn on infrastructure projects, rewrite planning rules and make better use of under-utilised brownfield land in towns and cities.

What are the new announcements?

Home Building

Inline the government’s primary theme of capital investment in infrastructure announced as part of the last budget and in line with the Tory manifesto, there has been a pledge to build "fantastic new homes on brownfield sites and other areas with better transport.  But not just homes – ‘beautiful and low carbon homes.’

The announcements are in addition to the recent package of measures which include:

  • A £12bn affordable homes programme including 180,000 new affordable homes for ownership and rent over the next eight years
  • The affordable homes programme will include 1,500 unit pilot of ‘First Homes’: houses which will be sold to first time buyers at a 30% discount which will remain in perpetuity, keeping them affordable for generations of families to own.
  • Funds from the £400m Brownfield Land Fund have today been allocated to the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Liverpool City Region, Sheffield City Region, and North of Tyne and Tees Valley to support around 24,000 homes.
  • The Home Builders Fund to help smaller developers access finance for new housing developments will receive an additional £450m boost. This is expected to support the delivery of around 7,200 new homes. 

Extended Permitted Developed Rights

A promise to extend permitted development rights to include: a wider range of commercial of buildings that can be changed to residential without a need for planning application and property owners being able to build additional space above their properties via a fast track process with neighbour consultation.

Planning system reform

An acknowledgement that the current system is holding back growth and a promise to overhaul the planning system which will allow the UK to ‘build better, build greener and build faster’ and a commitment to ‘project’ speed’ – cutting red tape and reducing delays.

Home Ownership

The government reiterated its commitment to increasing homeownership opportunities for young people and a promise to help younger people get on the housing ladder.

Skills

A promise to ‘reskill’ to help tackle the consequences of the crisis with an acknowledgement that unfortunately many people will lose their jobs and some businesses will not survive with a pledge to offer every young person a chance of an apprenticeship or in work placement.

Neil Gosling, head of residential development commented, “This announcement is positive news for the housing sector, but the proof will be in the pudding. Acknowledging that facilitating development of new housing will help an economic recovery, is the recognition the sector deserves, however housing has been high on the political agenda in every manifesto with little change. We now need to see quick positive action. If the market is going to have any chance of a quick recovery, funding for first time buyers needs to be high on the agenda, and the extension of Help 2 Buy funding has to be a serious consideration”.

“And of course, this is welcome news for the affordable housing sector too”, comments Lou Drew, head of building communities.  “There was some concern that funding would be withdrawn, which could have impacted on their planned programmes. There is also much talk about energy being the catalyst to reversing the recession, especially when smart and green homes will be high on the agenda following Covid-19. We should also not forget the chatter around retirement living and how the building of more retirement homes will free up much needed family homes to ensure housing chains are there to get everyone moving, whilst at the same time creating more sustainable and better homes for our older generation so they avoid self isolation, health and well being issues for as long as is possible”.

Contact us
For further information please contact Neil Gosling, Louise Drew or another member of the real estate team.

We have launched our guide to recovery and resilience, helping to support businesses and individuals unlock their potential, navigate their way out of lockdown and make way for a brighter future. Further advice in relation to COVID-19 can be found on our dedicated coronavirus resource hub.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

SHMA® ON DEMAND

Listen to our SHMA® ON DEMAND content covering a broad range of topics to help support you and your business.

Agriculture: diversifying or leasing your land to create habitat banks

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Peter Snodgrass, Partner & Head of Agriculture
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How can we help?

Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333

Guides & Advice

Early engagement is vital to help ensure planning support is there for NHS Trusts

Early engagement is vital to help ensure planning support is there for NHS Trusts

The recent Secretary of State decision relating to land at Wolborough Barton in Devon (appeal reference APP/P1133/W/18/3205558) has thrown the issue of s.106 contributions for NHS trusts into the spotlight.

The background to the case

The appeal related to the proposed development of a strategic housing site in South Devon for approximately 1210 dwellings and accompanying infrastructure.  The appeal was against the Council’s failure to determine the application within the requisite timescale and was subsequently recovered by the Secretary of State.

The appeal site was part of a larger site which was allocated for housing in the Teignbridge Local Plan 2013-2033 (adopted 2014).

The appeal (which was recovered by the Secretary of State) was considered at a public inquiry which sat in March and June 2019.

In February 2019 the local NHS Trust submitted a representation which sought a financial contribution of £1,070,416 to mitigate the impact of the development on the existing healthcare facilities.

The decision

The Inspector, in her report, summarised the NHS Trust’s case as centring “on a short-fall in funding for the care of new residents which amounts to at least an 18 month lag after the population increase.  In the contest of the current NHS funding arrangements, an increase in population would be responded to in the longer term, but the [Trust] argue that revenue support such as staffing costs would have to begin as soon as population increases.”[1]

The Inspector acknowledged the impact of the proposal on the NHS and made clear that anticipated burden on the Trust was “unfortunate and troubling”[2], and further accepted that the existing funding mechanism places the Trust at “an undeniable disadvantage”[3].

However, the Inspector also acknowledges that as part of an allocated site, which had been in an adopted Local Plan since 2014, the proposed development should not “have come at a surprise to the Trust”.

Critically, it was noted that NHS England had been consulted on the Local Plan.

The Inspector concluded that “in the circumstances of a ‘known’ development (that is to say one specifically allocated in the Local Plan) within an adopted Development Plan document which had been the subject of consultation with relevant health providers at the time of production, it can not be justified to require a developer to plug a gap in funding essential to pay staff ways, which is brought to the appeal at the eleventh hour, even though that may, in part, be due to some element of new population which may move into the Newton Abbot area as a result of the building of new homes.”[4]

Whilst the Inspector acknowledged the existence of other appeals in which requests for contributions have been accepted by Inspectors, in respect of this appeal she noted that “it is the inclusion of the appeal site as a LP allocation and consequently a site which has been the subject of consideration by associated service providers in respect of future demands on their services, which I consider distinguishes this case.”[5]

In the Decision Letter, the Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector “that in the circumstances of a ‘known’ development within an adopted Development Plan document which had been the subject of consultation with relevant health providers at the time of production, it cannot be justified to require a developer to plug a gap in funding essentially to pay staff wages, which is brought to the appeal at the eleventh hour, even though that may, in part, be due to some element of new population which may move into the Newton Abbot area as a result of the building of the new homes (IR361). For this reason he considers that the provision obligation fails to meet the tests of Regulation 122 of the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 (as amended) and is not therefore enforceable.”[6]

What are the implications for NHS Trusts?

When looking at the wider implications of this decision it is clear that the fact that the appeal site had been allocated in a development plan for five years prior to the Inquiry and that the NHS Trust had only sought to raise the need for a contribution one month prior to the opening of the Inquiry did not assist their case notwithstanding the financial impact which the Inspector and the Secretary of State both acknowledged would arise as a consequence of the development being allowed.

It is therefore clear for Trusts seeking to secure financial contributions to mitigate the impact of services which arise from development that early engagement in the process is important.  Firstly, they need to be engaging in the local plan process; and secondly, they need to engage with planning applications at an early point (as the eleventh hour nature of the request was evidently a cause of concern for the Inspector and the Secretary of State).

For local authorities and developers, it seems that the Secretary of State has accepted that contributions from windfall sites and those not specifically allocated in a Local Plan could be acceptable and CIL compliant.

Contact us
For further information please contact Paul Wakefield or another member of our planning team.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

 

[1] Inspector’s Report para 355     [2] IR para 357     [3] IR para 359     [4] IR para 361     [5] IR para 363     [6] SOS Decision Letter para 46

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Getting construction sites back on track after lockdown

Getting construction sites back on track after lockdown

Are you a developer reopening your site following lockdown? We’re here to help you get your sites back on track as quickly as possible.

With the added pressure of worldwide disruption to supply chains, getting sites going again is going to throw up some significant challenges you may not have faced before.

  • Suppliers: It is likely that developers will face long delays as suppliers further up the chain will struggle with manufacturing and sourcing building materials – there will be a long lead-in time to get their production re-started again.
  • Cash: It’s also likely that prices will spike as demand quickly rises and supply needs time to catch up.
  • People/workforce: you may face problems in getting employees back onto sites, and will need to meet requirements for social distancing when you do.

As you will likely have relationships, agreements and contracts in place with your supply chain already – the best thing you can do now is to consider your current position.

Are there barriers to re-opening your sites?

Tell us about them on a free 30-minute video call with our specialist team or register for our webinar where we will discuss the position with employment contracts and workforces, contracts and supply chains and a practical look at how you can get your site back up and running.

Things to consider

  • Talk through issues with experts in employment, construction and development as well as commercial law
  • Find out options available to enable you to get back into business as quickly and efficiently as possible, minimising the impact of any delays
  • Discover routes to protecting yourself against a turbulent market and unpredictable supply chain
  • Consider potential new risks following lockdown and how your sites and staff can be prepared for them

Fill out our enquiry form or click below to request a call-back.

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In response to COVID-19, we created our coronavirus hub which includes advice, guidance and insight to help you navigate through these uncertain times. As we all begin to adapt and prepare for the future, our hub will evolve to provide you with further help and resources for surviving, reviving and beginning to thrive in life and business, throughout the challenging times ahead.

We have launched our guide to recovery and resilience, helping to support businesses and individuals unlock their potential, navigate their way out of lockdown and make way for a brighter future. Further advice in relation to COVID-19 can be found on our dedicated coronavirus resource hub.

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As the UK takes tentative steps towards an increase in economic activity and recovery, it is vital that businesses are prepared in every aspect. From financial considerations, employees, leadership and premises, to supply chain implications, health and safety and protecting your private wealth, our guide highlights what organisations and individuals should consider when moving from survival mode towards one where you recover and thrive.

We are here to help in your business and personal life - contact us today to find out more.

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Whilst the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in modern times now is the time to review your supplier network. You need to ensure that your supply chain will hold up and allow you to get the products, parts and raw materials that you need to continue to trade and deliver revenue.

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Managing a workforce of any size can have its challenges, let alone one that is recovering

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Supreme Court: Enforcement Appeal Inspector should have considered whether decorative urns were “buildings”

Supreme Court: Enforcement Appeal Inspector should have considered whether decorative urns were “buildings”

  • Shakespeare Martineau secures landmark Supreme Court decision, flipping the direction of a five-year planning battle between a member of the public and Stratford-upon-Avon council
  • The dispute centres around the listing of free-standing items and how it should be determined that they are “buildings”
  • The ruling states that an Enforcement Appeal Inspector should have considered whether decorative 18th century listed urns unknowingly sold by Mr. Marcus Dill were “buildings”
  • The Supreme Court gives guidance on the criteria for identifying something as a “building”
  • Backing by the Supreme Court throws doubt over whether the case against Mr. Dill will be progressed by the council, or whether the enforcement notice against him is dropped
  • A successful appeal for Mr. Dill could lead to major changes to UK planning laws and a rethink about how listed items are categorised in the future

The current ruling

On 20 May 2020, the Supreme Court allowed an appeal by Mr. Marcus Dill against a decision of the Court of Appeal that a Listed Building Enforcement Appeal Inspector could not consider Mr. Dill’s submission that two 18th century listed urns, sold at auction by Mr. Dill, were not “buildings” and therefore should not have been listed.

Two issues were before the Supreme Court:

  • One procedural - Whether an inspector determining an appeal under the Town and Country Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 can consider whether or not something on the statutory list is a “building”
  • One substantive - What criteria are relevant in determining whether an item appearing in its own right in the statutory list is a “building”

In finding that the inspector in Mr. Dill’s case was wrong not to have considered whether the listed urns were “buildings”, the Supreme Court quashed the decision to dismiss Mr. Dill’s appeal against the listed building enforcement notice and remit that appeal to the Secretary of State for redetermination.

Simon Stanion, planning partner at law firm, Shakespeare Martineau, who acted on behalf of Mr. Dill, said: “This decision of the Supreme Court is a complete vindication of the position taken by Mr. Dill from the very outset of this matter.

“In 2009, he sold these items in good faith only to discover in 2015 that they had, without the knowledge of the family, in fact been listed 23 years earlier. Despite being unable to confirm that formal notice of their listing had been given to the family as required by the legislation, the local planning authority issued an enforcement notice requiring them to be restored to Idlicote House.

“To add insult to injury, it was not possible for Mr. Dill in any event to comply with the enforcement notice because the items were no longer within the jurisdiction. Faced with the unpalatable prospect of being prosecuted for non-compliance with the enforcement notice, Mr. Dill decided to appeal, as this was in effect the first opportunity he had to challenge the listing of the urns – that opportunity having been denied to him when the listing took place due to the lack of notification.  So began a long and stressful journey involving not only the dismissal of his original appeal, but unsuccessful challenges to that decision in both the High Court and Court of Appeal.

“I am incredibly pleased for him that he has finally received the result his tenacious belief in justice has deserved over the last few years. This is an important decision not only in terms of the matters that may be raised by way of listed building enforcement appeal, but also in terms of the guidance handed down by the Court regarding assessing whether individually listed items, such as the urns in this case are in fact “buildings”.”

Marcus Dill said: “I am delighted that the Supreme Court has upheld my appeal against SSHCLG and Stratford District Council and am pleased to have received a judgment that restores my faith in the British judicial system. The choice I faced in 2015 was to appeal against the enforcement notice or risk criminal prosecution. I chose to appeal because common sense suggested that the piers and finials were not buildings, that errors had been made in their listings, and that I held more relevant information than the Secretary of State and Historic England. I could not have known the toll that decision would take on myself, my family and my business but the prospect of a criminal record, a fine and possible incarceration was unthinkable. I am extremely grateful for such a clear judgment at the final stage of this marathon battle and the support of my legal team and Rupert Werff at Summers Place Auctions, who handled the original sale and helped me negotiate and understand this difficult issue.”

Background to the case

The case centred around the sale by Mr. Dill at auction in 2009 of a pair of early 18th century lead urns in order to raise money for the maintenance of Idlicote House, where the urns had rested either side of a driveway leading up to the house.

The items had been in Mr. Dill’s family since the early 1900s, originally at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, and had moved with the family from residence to residence, finally ending up at Idlicote House in 1973.

Completely unbeknown to the family, including Mr. Dill, the items had been listed in their own right in June 1986 under section 54 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. Despite enquiries, the listing decision and paperwork on which it was based have never been found. Although Mr. Dill sold the items in ignorance of their listing in 2009, it was not until 2014, when the Council became aware of the sale, that they began correspondence with Mr. Dill in relation to possible enforcement.

In April 2015, the council informed Mr. Dill that listed building consent had been required for the removal of the urns and threatened formal action. Mr. Dill then made a retrospective application for listed building consent, but this was refused by the council in February 2016.

Following this rejection, a listed building enforcement notice requiring the reinstatement of the items at Idlicote House was issued in April 2016. Given Mr. Dill’s understanding that the urns had since been removed from the United Kingdom, and thathe did not have access to any information regarding the purchaser, reinstating the items was not a feasible solution. As a result, he appealed to the Secretary of State against the refusal of listed building consent and the enforcement notice on several grounds, including the items not being “buildings” and therefore not capable of being listed in their own right. What followed was three and a half years – and counting - of litigation for Mr. Dill.

The appeals were considered by a planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State, who dismissed them in January 2017, deciding that because the status of the items as “buildings” was established by them being on the statutory list he could not reconsider them. Therefore, arguments raised on behalf of Mr. Dill regarding the size, permanence, and purpose and degree of annexation of the urns became irrelevant. This decision was then upheld by both the High Court in 2017 and the Court of Appeal in 2018.

Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, however, supports Mr. Dill’s contention that he had the right to have the status of the items as “buildings” considered in the appeals.

Simon Stanion said: “This has been a long and complex fight, and whilst we always had confidence in our case, the decisions in the High Court and Court of Appeal obviously raised the prospect – not least in Mr Dill’s mind - that this wouldn’t have a happy ending”.

“At the end of the day, however, all that matters is that Mr. Dill’s counsel, Richard Harwood Q.C. assisted in the Supreme Court by Catherine Dobson, was able to persuade the Supreme Court to accept the force of the arguments he had made on behalf of Mr. Dill from the very outset of this matter.”

Marcus Dill said: “I was sure of the facts of this matter: the urns had passed down three generations and had moved with the family from place to place in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. They had no relation to the listed houses where they had been situated, least of all Idlicote House where they ended up, and nothing in the listing description recognized their true provenance. I had acted in good faith when I sold the urns and I had no reason to believe they were listed or that they were ‘buildings’ in law.”

Why is this important?

Firstly, on the facts of this particular case, Mr. Dill felt he was being denied by the inspector of the one opportunity he had to challenge the basis for the listing of these items. The Supreme Court agreed that this was indeed the case – per Lord Carnwath “Since this problem was first drawn to his attention by the local authority in April 2015 he has been attempting to obtain a clear ruling on that issue.  On the view I have taken, that opportunity has been wrongly denied to him for five years” (Judgement [60]).

Contrary to what the Inspector and the courts below decided, the appearance of these items on the statutory list was not conclusive as to their status as “listed buildings”. Lord Carnwath held that in order for something to fulfill the statutory definition of “listed building” there were two essential elements: it must be both a “building” and it must be included in the list. “If it is not in truth a building at all, there is nothing to say that mere inclusion in the list will make it so” (Judgement [24]).

Secondly, it is of note that the Court felt the need for more general guidance as to the legal principles in play because of what Lord Carnwath described as “a disturbing lack of clarity about the criteria which have been adopted by the relevant authorities, not only in this instance but more generally, in determining whether free-standing items such as these are regarded as qualifying for listing protection, whether as “curtilage structures”, or as separate “buildings” as in this case” (Judgement [28]).

In this regard Lord Carnwath also said (at [54]) “It is not enough that an object may be of special artistic or historic interest in itself; the special interest must be linked to its status as a building. That is implicit in the reference to “architectural” interest. But it is relevant in my view also to the concept of historic interest. The historic interest must be found not merely in the object as such, but in its “erection” in a particular place.”

Simon Stanion commented: “The urns involved were not permanent fixtures, neither did they have any architectural or historical association with Idlicote House. As such, it’s little wonder that it did not enter Mr. Dill’s mind that they could be candidates for listing, or that he would not be able to sell them without consequence.”

Marcus Dill said: “It became clear after the Appeal Court hearing that there was a lack of clarity about what constitutes a ‘listed building’ in law. It also became clear that the lower courts were not prepared to deal with this issue conclusively and the ‘disturbing lack of criteria’ mentioned by Lord Carnwath still remains beyond this judgment. If the Secretary of State has the power to anchor a citizen’s chattels to the land by classifying them as ‘listed buildings’ without the owner’s knowledge or due regard to provenance, that individual must have recourse to challenge the state’s definition of a ‘listed building’.”

Who is the decision relevant for?

The facts in this case are unusual, but not necessarily unique. There may be other instances in which items such as the urns in this case have been listed without the knowledge of the owners and the time for challenging the listing decision by way of judicial review has long since passed. The Supreme Court was not convinced, however, that judicial review was in fact the appropriate forum in which to challenge a decision, as here, that involved issues of fact and matters of judgement about what may or may not constitute a “building”.

This decision may therefore have wider implications than just deciding enforcement appeals, for example in relation to applications for removing items from the statutory list.

Simon Stanion said: “It is important to remember that Mr. Dill was facing possible criminal sanctions for disposing of these items, and it is clear that this fact was not lost on the Court in deciding the issues in the case.”

What does it mean going forward?

There is, of course still the prospect of Mr. Dill having to face a re-determination of his enforcement appeal. In these circumstances the appeal inspector would be legally obliged to consider Mr. Dill’s submission that if these items are not “buildings” there is no contravention against which to enforce, and in deciding whether they are buildings, to have regard to the criteria approved by the Supreme Court.

However, there is more than a hint in the final paragraph of Lord Carnwath’s judgement that the local planning authority should consider whether it should force the Secretary of State to redetermine the appeal at all:

“Even if his appeal were ultimately to fail, the practicability of restoring the vases to their previous location in the grounds of Idlicote House is uncertain. Accordingly, this court’s formal order for remittal should not prevent the respondents from giving serious consideration to whether in all the circumstances it is fair to Mr. Dill or expedient in the public interest to pursue this particular enforcement process any further” (Judgement [60]).

Simon Stanion said: “Mr. Dill will, I am sure, take particular comfort from the fact that the Supreme Court has acknowledged the impact that this sad and sorry tale has had on him over the last five years. It must not be forgotten that, had this case been decided against him, he would not only have faced an enormous legal bill, but the threat of prosecution for non-compliance with the enforcement notice, a threat that has been hanging over him for 5 years. There is at least a hint here of the Court considering he may have already been through enough.

“Although we have not yet reached the final chapter of this story, we very much hope that Mr. Dill will soon be able to draw a line under the whole affair.”

Contact us
For further information please contact Simon Stanion or another member of the planning team.

For legal support in relation to the coronavirus or any other matter, get in touch with your team today

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This is no different for the land and planning industry with landowners, developers and strategic land directors looking to keep our projects moving with business as usual as it can be in an unusual world.

Having worked for Melton Borough Council in 2008, when our office was destroyed by fire, I know first-hand how local authorities respond to emergencies: they implement emergency planning processes and business continuity plans. Resources are redeployed to meet the immediate priority needs of the public.

The current situation will see councils quite rightly focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable members of our communities and trying to find a way to deliver services from the homes of their officers will be a competing priority.

What’s been the impact of coronavirus on planning so far?

In addition to the redistribution of staff support, home working and social distancing has caused a number of issues for local authorities and planning committees.

The Government’s Chief Planner has written to local authority Chief Planning Officers to call for pragmatism and practicality and a number of councils are doing sterling work to deliver their local planning authority business without seemingly missing a beat.

While many of the larger councils are agile, some are affected by a lack of technology and staff are unable to set up home working. A number of local planning authorities have signalled delays to local plans or phone calls and emails go unanswered. If we are fortunate enough to get an audience with our local authority planning teams, it is imperative that we make the most of the opportunity.

The typical age profile of committee members also makes a large number highly vulnerable to the virus and thus are self-isolating. Stories are emerging of planning committees being cancelled or run with the minimum number required to be quorate. For some councils the recent lockdown has also taken in-person meetings off the table too.

New legislation for virtual committee meetings is promised. This and a concerted push towards the technology for virtual officer meetings will be needed to recover and maintain progress. The early signs are that some councils have moved swiftly to meet this challenge and while nobody wishes to supplant the priority of looking after the vulnerable we might expect to see more local planning authorities tackling these challenges in the days and weeks to come.

What is the likely impact of coronavirus on development projects and planning applications?

In the immediate future we are likely to see local plan milestones pass without plans being published for consultation or committee decisions being made. For those projects at the planning application stage we are also likely to start seeing an increase in ‘extension of time’ requests as it becomes difficult for councils to meet their targets. Together with reduced contact from local planning authorities this might be an uncertain and frustrating time for planning projects.

What can I do to keep my planning proposal moving during UK lockdown?

The likelihood of long or protracted negotiations is slim. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that we have positive, efficient and effective relationships with local authority planning teams and do everything we can to support them towards delivering their service and streamline the application process.

  1. Attention to detail

Now is the time to get our projects in good health with clear reports that encourage straight forward discussion and processing. This could make the difference between a smooth and swift process and a major delay.

  1. Be clear on the red-lines

In a world where negotiation likely has fewer phases, it is important to be clear about the will and will nots. To-ing and fro-ing on negotiations is now a luxury projects can ill-afford.

  1. Make quick decisions

Time with the local authority planning teams will be at a greater premium than ever before. If there is a chance to agree a way forward we will need to make those decisions quickly and efficiently, preferably at the point the opportunity presents itself. A strategy of regroup and rethink might mean it is a while before we have an opportunity to meet with planners again and move projects forward.

We’re all in this together, and in these unprecedented times we must recognise and respect the challenges being faced by others in order to keep us all moving forward.

For legal planning advice contact the Marrons Planning team.

All the latest views and insights on COVID-19 (coronavirus)

With pressure continuing to mount on the Government to stop all non-essential construction works, the Construction Industry Council has provided a suggested non-exhaustive list of critical construction-related activity that should continue in the interest of public safety.

Following the Government’s announcements earlier in the week, and advice from the Health Secretary that those who cannot do their jobs from home should go to work “to keep the country running”, the postion is that contractors should continue with the works until such time as they are unable or prevented from doing so.

This was echoed by the Housing Minister, Robert Jenrick, who tweeted: “Advice for the housing, construction & building maintenance industries: If you can work from home, do so. If you are working on site, you can continue to do so. But follow Public Health England guidance on social distancing.”

However, with work on Crossrail and other Transport for London (TfL) construction projects being suspended to help limit the spread of coronavirus, the next few weeks are likely to see an increase in the number of sites closing down and projects forced to be put on hold.

Taylor Wimpey announced that they will be closing all their sites “to help prevent the spread of Covid-19” amongst its workforce. We’re also finding that some contractors aren’t practically able to continue with their works and services as a result of a number of issues surrounding the coronavirus and subsequent Government advice and action, as a number of their staff can’t continue to work on site due to illness, childcare (following the Government’s announcement to close schools), self-isolation/shielding due to underlying health conditions and now the ability to obtain materials and building supplies.

Further, it’s not always possible for construction works to follow the advice of the UK Government and Public Health England in relation to social distancing when carrying out their works and services and as such they’re advising of potential delays due to force majeure.

During this difficult and unusual time, all parties on a construction project are bound to have concerns around their obligations. So, what should they be doing to protect themselves going forward?

What are a main contractor’s responsibilities?

In the absence of any instruction from the Government or Public Authority – meaning they can down tools and lock up their sites – many contractors are going to continue working and managing their workforce on site. The key issues before shutdown are going to be sourcing labour and goods whether domestically or from abroad.

Primarily, the contractor’s concerns lie with the security of the site and the progress of the works. This may involve having some difficult conversations about the potentially significant changes to the programme and what this means for the project.
At a time where finances are tight, main contractors need to be looking up and downstream to ensure that any payment processes are being taken care of. It is more important than ever to keep on top of any applications that have been made, ensuring that any necessary payment or pay less notices are issued, to minimise the risk of any ‘smash and grab’ adjudications coming their way.

Are there any clauses or provisions within their contracts that can be invoked to deal with delays arising from Covid-19?

With contracts, the devil is always in the detail, so it is important to scout out any clauses which may help in difficult times. For most employers and contractors, this means assessing whether the delay has arisen due to any factor which entitles the contractor to an extension of time to the date for completion of the works.

It is worth checking the contract for a ‘force majeure’ clause as this may excuse one or both contracting parties from temporarily performing their obligations. However, this will only apply if the disrupting event was beyond the reasonable control of the party relying on the clause at the time the contract was entered into. The wording of the provision is key, however, so must be carefully checked.

Sometimes, ‘epidemics’ or ‘civil emergencies’ are explicitly mentioned in force majeure provisions, but they can also be more general. If this is the case, then employers and contractors must assess whether the clause covers an event such as the coronavirus outbreak or any government restrictions it has triggered.

Parties should also keep in mind that – on the whole – a force majeure provision can only be invoked if the situation has entirely prevented them from performing contractual obligations (on a temporary basis), not just made them more difficult or costly to undertake. Should this be the case, relying on the clause could entitle the contractor to an extension of time, meaning they wouldn’t be penalised or have to pay an employer for each week’s delay on the completion of the project.

What happens if works are put on hold?

Contractors can be cautiously optimistic at this time, regarding their ability to recoup their loss of time. However, with any delay to a project, there are two aspects: the first relating to time (sometimes known as a Relevant Event) and the second, relating to loss and expense (sometimes known as a Relevant Matter).

Should a project be placed on hold due to force majeure or exercise by the Government or Public Authority of powers which affect the execution of the works, whilst the terms of the contract will need to be checked carefully, the contractor may only be entitled to an extension of time but not to loss and/or expense. This ensures that the risk of such events arising is split between the employer and the contractor, as the contractor isn’t liable for damages for delay, and the employer isn’t liable for the contractor’s additional costs.

Where contractors are looking to extend the time to complete a project, it’s essential that they put in valid notices, served in line with the terms of the contract, otherwise, they run the risk of losing their entitlement to an extension of time.

Where does the responsibility lie for payment support?

As explained briefly above, while force majeure or exercise by the Government or Public Authority of its powers, within the context of the contract may confirm the Relevant Event, entitling a contractor to an extension of time, the contractor won’t be compensated for loss and expense. As a consequence, main contractors may be in financial difficulty when having to swallow their own costs, unless they are able to recoup or defer costs through a claim on their own insurance policies or government funding packages.

In an ideal world, the contracts between employers and main contractors will work in parallel with main contractors and subcontractors. With so much uncertainty and a lack of labour and materials, subcontractors are also going to be looking up the chain for an extension of time – it is sensible for all parties to seek to adopt a consistent and reasonable in their approach to the issues delay bring.

Where all stakeholders are concerned, taking an overly aggressive or legal approach to a sensitive situation is unlikely to work. Maintaining an open channel of communication, both with the subcontractor supply chain and employer, is essential going forward.

Can an employer / main contractor terminate the contract?

If a construction site is shut for more than the agreed period in the contract and the project is on the road to nowhere, then (subject to what the terms of the contract actually say) it is possible if not likely that either party could serve a notice giving the other party notice to terminate the employment of the contractor. However, parties should err on the side of caution, as serving notice in this way often creates a hotbed of disputes around whether or not the party was in fact entitled to terminate.

Alternatively, a contract may be ended if it is said to be frustrated. Frustration occurs when there is a serious event, without the default of either party, once the contract has been entered into. This event would have to be something unexpected that renders the contract commercially or physically impossible to fulfil. If this is the case, both parties are discharged completely from fulfilling any further actions.

That being said, COVID-19 would be unlikely to fall in the category as generally it is more likely to be causing delay, rather than making the completion of a project impossible. We are set to see more guidance around this, however as more and more cases arise as a result of the current situation.

A word of caution for anyone considering entering into a contract – it is essential to take into account the risks associated with entering into a contract at such a turbulent time. While just weeks ago this epidemic arguably wasn’t reasonably foreseeable, it is now and may not be covered by the ‘force majeure’ clause in any new contracts, or provisions dealing with the exercise of powers by the Government or Public Authorities. Therefore, all parties should think twice before signing on the dotted line.

What are the next steps at this time?

Responsible contractors should be keeping an ear open – continuously monitoring government advice on what they can and can’t be doing. For example, if there is a lockdown on all construction sites, this must be adhered to or contractors may run the risk of fines and other penalties.

It is also essential for employers and contractors to dust off their contracts and, where anything isn’t immediately clear, seek professional advice. This can help them to get a handle on their current responsibilities – even a 10-minute call with an expert in the field can help to get some clarity around the next steps that should be taken.

What should contractors and subcontractors do to ensure they are in the best position going forward?

Aside from knowing their contract inside out, contractors and subcontractors must ensure they apply for any payments they are entitled to and ensure all notices for extensions of time are put in in a timely manner.

At a difficult and uncertain time for construction, parties throughout the supply chain should be keeping on top of processes and maintaining clear channels of communication, in order to safeguard the future of the industry.

Contact us

For more information about any of these issues, please contact Kate Onions or Alex Smith in our construction team.

We are continuing to share our knowledge and expertise online. You can register for one of our learning events or contact the events team for more details or for more general business advice in relation to coronavirus visit our dedicated resource hub.

For advice or guidance on any other legal issue, a member of our team can help – please click here to discuss.

All the latest views and insights on COVID-19 (coronavirus)

There are three reasons to celebrate this week, with Emma Bryant, part of our corporate team in the Birmingham office, Andrew Gore, a town planner based in our Nottingham office, and Simon Robinson, a member of our London office’s real estate team, having been promoted to the partnership.

Advising both national and international clients on a host of complex commercial transactions, mergers and acquisitions, Emma helps businesses by taking a practical approach to every challenge. Her technical knowledge and ability to assist clients in meeting their corporate goals has led to her being promoted to associate partner.

Andrew works for our specialist planning consultancy, Marrons Planning, and is now the team’s newest partner. With over 15 years of experience under his belt, Andrew has a level of planning expertise that is hard to beat. During this time, he has worked with a variety of housebuilders, landowners and land-promoters, helping his clients to secure consent for medium to large-scale residential and commercial developments.

Our third and final new partner is Simon, who focuses mainly on commercial property, planning and environment law, supporting clients on a range of real estate issues. As well as providing practical legal advice, Simon adds commercial value to his clients’ property portfolios, following his experience of holding the general counsel position at a fully-listed investment fund.

Helen Hay, our head of HR, said: “Emma, Andrew and Simon are all thoroughly deserving of their promotions to the partnership. They have proven themselves to be indispensable assets to their teams, offering invaluable knowledge and experience.

“The commitment and passion that they have shown is inspiring. Recognising such dedication and empowering our people to be the best they can be is essential to the firm’s success, as, without talented individuals, we wouldn’t be able to give our clients the brilliant results they’ve come to expect. I’m certain that they will continue to thrive in their new roles, supporting their teams in everything they do.”

For advice or guidance on any commercial or legal issue, a member of our team can walk you through everything. Click here to discuss.

Simon Stanion, our head of planning, explores how developers can ensure the process happens effectively in order to secure planning permission:

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

The NPPF calls for proposals to explicitly identify any opportunities to improve air quality or lessen air pollution on a development. These could include:

Traffic and travel management
Green infrastructure
The enhancement of existing mitigation measures

Being able to set out such measures is more important than ever, with the sector’s current focus on air quality.

Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA)

An AQMA is a place where air quality objectives are not being achieved, leading to the local authority having to introduce a Local Air Quality Action Plan.

If a development fails to offer mitigation measures that are in line with the air quality action plans, then it is unlikely that planning permission will be gained for some or all of the planned development.

The benefits of mitigation measures must also be certain at the time of an assessment in order to be viewed as legitimate. Therefore, it is not enough to throw money at issues if it is not clear how the money will be used to effectively improve air quality.

The main objectives of the NPPF

Although not the only criteria that the NPPF use to judge developments, the key objectives of sustainable developments are:

Minimising waste and pollution
Mitigating and adapting to climate change
Moving to a low carbon economy

All planning decisions involve balancing the economic and social needs for continued new development with the environmental impacts. Now more than ever, this environmental aspect must be seriously considered.

Local planning policy position

Before applying for planning permission, developers need to review the local planning policy position for air quality. Things to look out for include:

Whether the site is an AQMA
Whether there are Air Quality Management Plans in place
The planning authority’s local information requirements/validation checklist

For major development proposals, pre-application advice and/or an EIA screening opinion should also be sought out.

In general, seeking expert advice from an experienced professional is a wise decision. It can help developers to choose the most suitable mitigation strategies, in turn improving the likelihood of successfully gaining planning permission.

Contact Simon Stanion on 0121 227 5592 to find out more about our planning team.

For advice or guidance on any other commercial or legal issues, a member of our team can walk you through everything. Click here to discuss.

The annual live gig event, attended by professionals in the real estate sector, took place at PRYZM nightclub on Thursday 21 November and brought together businesses from across the East Midlands. Individuals from local property and construction firms demonstrated their musical talents and performed to over 800 supporters to raise money for young people in the region.

This year the chosen charity was Switch Up, run by Marcellus Baz BEM, and The Nottingham School of Boxing. Switch Up uses a combination of physical activity, mentoring, counselling and education to empower young people and break the cycle of offending.

As well as the firm being a proud sponsor, Jenny Keen, associate director at the firm’s planning consultancy, Marrons Planning, fully engaged with this year’s ‘throwback Thursday’ theme and took to the stage to perform Toxic by Britney Spears. All of these efforts helped to raise a grand total of £25,000 for Switch Up.

Explaining why the firm decided to become a sponsor, Paul Wakefield, Partner in our planning team, says:

“As a firm, we’re always seeking opportunities to make a positive difference in everything we do. Hot Property always raises much-needed funds for local charities, whilst also allowing property professionals to express themselves musically – something we don’t always get to do in the office!

“We’re proud of our people’s individuality and the interests that make them unique. Given that we have a motto of #beyourself and our commitment is to empower our people and contribute positively to the local community, it was a no brainer to support this year’s event.”

Jenny Keen, our star performer, says:

“I well and truly stepped out of my comfort zone this year in order to help raise money for this amazing charity. Nottingham Hot Property is such a vital annual event as, year on year, it raises a massive amount of much-needed money to support local causes. The encouragement we receive from the industry is phenomenal so I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone for that.

“We truly believe that what Switch Up and The Nottingham School of Boxing is doing for the young people of Nottingham is remarkable. Using boxing alongside mentoring to help vulnerable young people act in a positive way and avoid crime and gang-criminality is so important. We’re delighted to be able to support Marcellus’ vision to make a positive difference and raise awareness of the mounting issues young people face.”

Read more about our planning team.

For advice or guidance on any commercial or legal issue, a member of our team can walk you through everything. Click here to discuss.

Nowadays, the housing crisis has become the focus, leading to garden towns moving away from their original principles. However, David Pendle, associate director at the firm’s planning consultancy, Marrons Planning, believes that doesn’t mean they’ve lost their desirability and purpose.

Garden town principles

The Town and Country Planning Association holds a list of principles that define a garden community. These include:

Green space
Affordable homes
Local jobs
Accessible transport systems
The capture of land value
The use of assets to pay for community services

Each of these principles are there to ensure the development benefits the community, the economy and the environment.

Overlooking principles

Although a number of these principles need to be present for a development to be called a garden town, some are often overlooked. This may be because they focus on community ideals rather than housing and so are less relevant in today’s society.

Benefits to developers

There are three main benefits of labelling a development a ‘garden community’. These are:

1. Government garden town competitions – Developers can bid for support ranging from funding to political backing

2. Local authorities – Should a garden town bid be successful in one of these competitions, local authorities will be more likely to welcome any plans

3. Branding – A recognised garden towns should be received better by the public it is marketing to

Still fit for purpose?

It is true that the label of ‘garden town’ sometimes outshines the principles that support it, but such developments will always be aspirational. There is a desperate need for more housing, and that housing also needs to be sold.

As a result, garden towns still carry out an important function in the housing market. They deliver a large number of homes and will forever be desirable to the public.

Of course, they are not the sole answer to the housing crisis. A diverse mix of new developments in a range of locations are required to cater to the differing needs of the population. However, garden towns can still provide a solution to a problem that impacts on us all, much like their original iteration.

Find out more about our planning team.

Securing a speedy planning permission can be heavily reliant on achieving community buy-in, plus it’s important for housebuilders to maintain a positive reputation in the area where they could potentially be selling homes.

Andrew Gore, planning director at Marrons Planning, explains why communication is vital to development approval:

1. Products can be showcased
Gathering the community together gives developers the opportunity to explain the benefits of the development, while promoting the houses and possibly generating sales through word of mouth in the process. Helping residents to visualise the final product can reduce the initial fear of change and bring them around to the developers’ way of thinking, or at least lessen their resistance to a degree.

2. Concerns can be addressed
Although not an obligation, developers are encouraged by Local Planning Authorities and other planning professionals to invite community members to public exhibitions or stakeholder workshops. This way, residents can ask any questions they may have about the development, allowing concerns to be addressed and reassurance to be given, which may lead to a drop in objection numbers in some cases.

3. Compromises can be reached
If a specific concern consistently arises, a compromise can be made that suits both parties’ needs. However, depending on the arrangements surrounding the deal, changes that result in reduced dwelling numbers or additional community facilities can be met with resistance from landowners or agents who want to maximise development coverage and therefore land value.

Speaking to landowners and agents can help to manage expectations right from the outset before any option or promotion agreements are entered into, although it is appreciated that this can be difficult at the start of the process where developers are bidding against other more bullish developers for the opportunity to promote the land in question.

Some developers are unsure of whether the time and financial costs of community engagement are worth the less than certain prospect of reducing the amount of objections to a scheme; however, they should certainly give thorough community engagement full consideration and see it as an opportunity to align with the Local Planning Authority’s preferred approach, make some small gains with the local community and showcase the developer’s product at the same time.  The results of effective communication can be beneficial for all involved in a development scheme.

The real estate and construction sectors in particular are feeling the loss, with 26 percent of businesses having recruited fewer EU workers since March 2017. This trend is likely to continue, which is unfortunate news, as eight percent of the sector’s workforce consists of EU-born workers and a skills gap already exists.

The UK needs available workers
A survey conducted by Biosite found that 71 percent of construction companies would struggle without EU workers. This is a worrying figure, which highlights the need for new sources of workers to be found and for construction companies to retain current talent, where possible.

For the UK’s development plans to be successful, the country needs available workers. However, the fact that immigration has dominated the Brexit discussion puts these plans at risk, as EU workers assess whether they want to, or can, stay and work in the UK.

The immigration white paper
Last December, the Government’s immigration white paper proposed a single immigration strategy to be put in place from 2021. This proposal signaled an end to the right of EU nationals to work freely in the UK, meaning they would have to apply for a work visa and meet other conditions, such as a minimum income threshold salary. In recent times, the construction sector has wanted more flexibility around entry into the industry, but this proposal could clearly have the opposite effect.

Restrictions
The majority of future migrants will need to be sponsored by an employer to work in the UK. Additionally, ‘low skilled’ workers would be restricted to a one-year visa, limiting the longevity of their employment and causing further resource issues for the construction industry.

To create a sustainable future for the construction sector, the Government would need to make special dispensations – a decision that would certainly be welcomed.

Reviewing profiles
Construction companies must assess how reliant their business is on EU labour. This way, to avoid disruption, they can consider the strategies, budgets and timescales necessary for either recruiting, or retaining their talent.

To stay compliant with the subsequent immigration changes, employers must familiarise themselves with their employment profiles and understand who works for them, where they are from and what their immigration status is.

Preserving talent
Employers need to support their workers to ensure they – and those in their supply chains – register under the Government’s new settled status scheme. Worker retention is key, and only by supporting staff through these applications can some level of certainty be guaranteed.

Training
Construction companies must provide more training for their UK employees. Many migrant workers already hold an NVQ Level 2-equivalent qualification, which is a standard deemed ‘work-ready’, whereas UK workers complete apprenticeships on the job. Improvements need to be made around domestic training, so UK workers meet the Europe-wide standard faster.

Investing in technology
To lessen the impact of the looming skills gulf, the industry should focus on investing in, and developing, new construction methods and technology, for example, MMC (offsite construction). This has the potential to lessen the pressure on construction companies to hire more staff, increasing the breathing room while the new immigration regime is introduced.

The Brexit extension may be frustrating to some, but for those who have not budgeted for post-Brexit immigration, it could be a real lifeline. Construction companies must start planning for the impacts now to avoid a dramatic loss of talent in the future.