The Government has introduced changes to the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO), effective from 25 May 2019. The changes are intended to make it easier to convert certain properties to provide more homes and offices, but some changes have not been introduced and the question remains, is this enough?

The changes were made following a public consultation in October 2018 and were confirmed in the Government’s Spring Statement. However some key changes, including the proposed permitted development (PD) right allowing upward extensions to create new housing, have not been introduced at this stage.

PD rights and changes to use classes have increasingly been used by the Government as planning tools to encourage and allow greater adaptation and diversification of our high streets. This latest set of PD changes introduces the following key amendments:

  • The temporary provision in Part 1 Class A, allowing larger residential extensions, is made permanent, having been due to expire on 31 May 2019
  • A new Part 3 Class JA allows shops, financial and professional services, hot food takeaways, betting shops, pay day loan shops and laundrettes to change to office use, up to 500sq m. This is subject to prior approval, which will assess transport and highways impacts, noise impacts from commercial and retail premises, and the impact on the sustainability of the existing shopping area
  • Part 3, Class M will now allow hot food takeaways to change to residential use, up to 150sq m, subject to prior approval application
  • Part 4, Class D is amended to allow temporary changes of use between various high street uses, offices and leisure facilities for a three year period (increased from two years) and is widened to include changes of use to certain community uses

However, the changes do not include the proposed PD right that would allow upward extension to create new housing. Nevertheless, despite the fact that this was the subject of significant objection during the consultation period, not least due to concerns relating to design impacts, the Government has indicated that it still intends to implement this at a future, unspecified date.

The proposed PD right allowing the demolition and redevelopment of existing commercial properties to provide new homes has also not been included at this stage, albeit the Government has indicated that this remains under consideration.

Evidently, the Government is striving to deliver on the promises it has made to use the planning system to reshape and revitalise our high streets and town centres, create prosperous communities and encourage new housing in underused properties. So far, certain PD rights introduced pursuant to these aims have been taken up with vigour by the development industry. For example, since 2015, some 42,000 new homes have been created using the office to residential PD right. The further changes to the PD rights outlined above can therefore be generally welcomed as a means of providing greater flexibility within the planning system.

The delay in the implementation of the wider ranging PD rights relating to upward extensions and commercial redevelopment schemes is not unexpected, in the context of the weight of objections associated with these matters during the consultation period. These represent complex issues, with impacts on neighbouring amenity, and in particular daylight & sunlight and legal rights to light being significant considerations in the potential application of such rights, should they come into force in the future.

As ever with permitted development rights, the devil is in the detail and it is therefore advisable to ensure that full due diligence is undertaken prior to commencing any works that may be considered to benefit from PD rights. Rapleys Town Planning and Neighbourly Matters specialists are well placed to advise on such matters. Please get in touch for further information.

Rapleys updated Use Class Order (England) guide can also be found here.

 

Richard Curry, Partner in the Retail & Leisure team, speaks to Food Navigator about Amazon’s investment in Deliveroo. The online retail giant will lead a new $575m investment into the food delivery company alongside other investors. This investment will allow the food delivery service to improve the company’s tech team in the UK headquarters and expand further to reach new customers.

Is Amazon laying the foundations for a move into bricks and mortar? 

Amazon’s move is evidence of it tapping into a growing trend for food delivery, in urban zones especially, and possibly setting the foundations for a move into bricks and mortar, believes Richard Curry, partner in the retail team at property and planning consultancy Rapleys.

If a consumer could receive Deliveroo delivery of Amazon’s range of goods, he told FoodNavigator, “that is tapping into a food market and competing with retailers.”

If Amazon were looking to set up in bricks and mortar space, he notes, then, “having all this infrastructure in place is going to be key, as most of the bigger organisations that are already established in bricks and mortar have antiquated distribution networks that are focussed on stores.”

It would also need to show a point of difference to stand out. ” Having this facility would give them that in my view.” He added that from Amazon’s perspective the investment was a ‘win-win’.

“It gives them another way of breaking into that [food goods delivery] market in its own right and at the same time if they did want to go nationwide into bricks and mortar they are setting up that to give themselves the opportunity to make that decision without it being expenditure on a gamble.

They know that the [Deliveroo] operation works and it doesn’t necessarily commit them to go into bricks and mortar but it would be required by them if they were to.”

For the full article with opinions from other experts click here.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today blocked the Sainsbury’s and Asda merger, confirming its provisional findings from February. The CMA said that the proposed deal would have led to increased prices in stores, online and at many petrol stations throughout the UK. Richard Curry, partner in Retail & Leisure, was among the experts who shared their reaction with Retail Gazette, European Supermarket Magazine and FoodBev Media:

“The problem Sainsbury’s and Asda faced is that there was a clear lack of credible competition for the CMA to turn to, and fewer still who would be interested in the stores that would have needed to have been disposed of.

“Particularly when you factor in the fuel retail element, the only two alternatives that offer the same product range and shopping experience are Tesco and Morrisons – who are unlikely to be interested in enough of the large format stores which might have made a difference to the CMA.

“People are still waiting to see what Amazon’s next move in the UK market will be. With the Whole Foods business, and the recent partnership with Casino in Europe, food retail is an area of interest for them.

“It would be ironic indeed were Amazon to end up buying some or all of the Asda portfolio given Walmart’s exit from the UK to focus on the US is almost entirely driven by a desire to defend against Amazon on home soil.”

The full article from Retail Gazette can be found here. Click here for the article from European Supermarket Magazine and here for FoodBev Media.

Richard also spoke to Bloomberg the day before the ruling, commenting that “Sainsbury’s will be holding out for a miracle. The CMA has given every indication that they won’t approve the merger.”

Read more here.

Those of us in the surveying world of Daylight & Sunlight have been waiting with baited breath to understand the implications of the new European Standard for Daylighting and its ever so snappy title EN17037. With great thanks to the CIBSE Daylight Group and the many great speakers at their event, all was revealed recently.

EN17037 does consider other factors, such as sunlight, view and glare but the most interesting topic of conversation was the new provisions for daylight. Very helpfully, Paul Littlefair of the Building Research Establishment, was on hand to translate the new provisions and explain how these deviated from the current standards used by consultants and Planning Authorities contained within the Building Research Establishment’s Report 209 “Site Layout Planning for Daylight and Sunlight – A Guide to Good Practice” (2011 2nd Edition).

The new standard, EN17037, recommends using daylight illuminance testing; requiring that a room obtains certain lux levels over 50% and 95% of the space for 50% of daylight hours. Minimum, medium and high levels are recommended as a means by which to judge the performance of a room. The recommendations are as follows:

  • Minimum – 300 lux exceeded over 50% of the space (median illuminance) and 100 lux exceeded over 95% of the space (minimum illuminance), for 50% of daylight hours
  • Medium – 500 lux for median and 300 for minimum for 50% of daylight hours
  • High – 750 lux for median and 500 lux for minimum for 50% daylight hours

The procedure for this testing requires that the daylight illuminance is calculated on a grid of points for every hour of the year. Taking the hourly median daylight illuminance exceeded over half the space and the minimum daylight illuminance. Choose the values equalled or exceeded for 2190 hours.

Comparing this to the current recommendations for Average Daylight Factor the recommendations for median daylight factor translate to an ADF figure around 1.5 times higher. As an example, looking at the minimum recommendations of EN17037, 2.1% median daylight factor equates to roughly 3.2% average daylight factor. Therefore, even the minimum recommendations of EN17037 are likely to be difficult to achieve and are certainly an uplift on the current highest targets of 2% for any room containing a kitchen. This will be especially problematic for dwellings in urban areas, such as London. It is also worth noting that the recommendations are the same for all room types, so the increase in light that needs to be achieved will be more apparent for rooms that had lower ADF targets, such as bedrooms (1%).

In reality this will reflect the current situation, in that it is likely the units on upper floors will have the best chance of meeting the high recommendations. With each floor moving down the façade of the building going from high, through medium and minimum and some even below that.

This reality naturally causes some concern and worry about the difficulty this would create in designing schemes that would meet these higher targets. Thankfully, the National Annex, soon to be proposed by the BRE would seek to relieve this.

Currently, a few options are on the table in terms of proposals for the National Annex, these are summarised below:

  1. Use minimum values of average daylight factor in BS 8206 Part 2 (or largely that contained within the BRE guide) as an alternative method for dwellings
  2. Adapt EN17037 methodology, but use lower illuminances for dwellings, resulting in lower recommended median daylight factors
  3. A combination of the above two options.

A vote among the event attendees was taken at the time, giving a clear winner, however final decisions of course remain to be seen. In short, Rapleys are in favour of the proposed method changes, but certainly agree that there will be difficulty in achieving the recommendations. If these can be reduced to a more achievable level we can see only good things for the industry going forward.

With the changing climate and potential impact this may have on developers moving forward Rapleys are acutely aware that this may pose challenges in the future.

The market may also question, due to Brexit, whether this Standard has to be embraced or can be ignored. As with any Daylight & Sunlight Study, those reviewing a design should always consider the requirements outlined by each specific local authority, so best to consider on a case by case basis. Although, it should not be forgotten that all designs should strive to ensure the best levels of Daylight & Sunlight and not the minimum.

As well as Daylight & Sunlight, Rapleys advise on other Neighbourly Matters including Rights to Light, Party Walls and Access Arrangements.

 

As we soar into 2019, there is no slowing down across the business and the Building Consultancy Group, in particular, are delighted to announce exciting opportunities to join their team.

As the service experiences rapid expansion across the network of UK offices, there are several graduate surveyor positions available in Bristol, London, Manchester, Birmingham and Huntingdon. To add to this, Bristol also require a Neighbourly Matters assistant to join the team in carrying out essential work in this highly specialised area.

Collectively, the team cover the full spectrum of services from party wall advice, dilapidations, project work, building surveys and everything in between. The role will be fast paced and provide an excellent platform to harvest all the skills required to progress your career with us.

We recruit and retain knowledgeable and passionate professionals and provide a collaborative culture that enables individuals to thrive in our robust training and development programme. Through this system, Rapleys are proud to be recognised as an Investors in People awarded company, independently verifying our commitment to you.

For more details you can go directly to our jobs page and view the various positions or speak to Justin Tuckwell, Head of Building Consultancy Group, on the available opportunities.

Today in Property Week, Nick Hughes asks ‘what impact the divestment of Sainsbury’s/Asda stores would have on the sector.’

‘A great deal for customers, colleagues, suppliers and shareholders of both businesses.’ That’s what the leaders of Sainsbury’s and Asda promised in April as the two confirmed plans for a £51bn mega-merger that, if approved, will reshape the grocery landscape with significant implications for the retail property market…

…A rebalancing of the big four’s property portfolios, although meaningful, is unlikely to significantly alter the dynamics of the grocery market; however, Rapleys partner Richard Curry floats a prospect that has the potential to change the face of the food retail landscape in the UK and send every supermarket executive into a state of high alert.

‘The CMA included (Amazon-owned) Whole Foods as part of its phase-one investigation’, Curry notes. ‘While Whole Foods itself is unlikely to take on a large-footprint Asda or Sainsbury’s unit, it does raise the question of what role Amazon more broadly will play going forward’. ‘We know the CMA is considering the impact of online retail on grocery shopping and if Amazon senses an opportunity to take on a nationwide portfolio of large units that can be subdivided to house various operations – from Whole Foods groceries to non-food and logistics – the temptation to make a big bricks-and-mortar splash will be strong indeed.’

The full article is available here on Property Week. 

Last week’s new housing statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government may have gone slightly unnoticed coming on the same day as Theresa May outlined her proposed Brexit agreement to ministers, triggering a sharp fall in housebuilders’ share prices. 

While the statistics showed new housing numbers have shot up 78% from the relative doldrums of 2012-13, when the effects of the financial crisis resulted in a decline in completions, year-on-year figures for 2017-18 only showed an increase of 2% on 2016-17. There is a danger that housing delivery is plateauing.

The Budget did contain an important loosening of planning rules, which may have an impact. Permitted development rights (PDR) remain an important tool for developers looking to bring forward housing and the sharp decline of PDR office-to-resi conversions in the housing statistics is eye-catching. The number of office-to-resi PDR conversions fell by 6,196 from 17,751 in 2016-17.

Clearly, after an initial wave of applications the number of viable sites has begun to dwindle. The Government has sought to address this by extending PDR to certain retail properties – both to boost housing supply and stimulate high street footfall.

But there are bigger changes on the horizon. The Letwin Review sought to find solutions that would improve housing supply, having acknowledged the lack of evidence of so-called land banking by developers. The numbers certainly suggest that developers are not holding back from delivering housing once planning consents have been given.

The Government’s response to Letwin is expected in February 2019. It will need to ensure it does not stymie, or undo, recent progress by increasing the complexity of the planning system. The 300,000 homes per year target remains an extraordinary tough challenge, one that can only be met with a sensible and sustainable approach to planning and development.

Published by Property Week on 20 November 2018. 

With expansion plans well underway for the Building Consultancy Group, head of the Group, Justin Tuckwell, welcomes a new look line up to the Birmingham base.

This regional hub has gone from strength to strength over the last 12 months – including a move to a bigger and brighter space – and the variety of service offerings are showing no signs of slowing down, just like the city skyline surrounding them. Dan Tapscott, head of the Neighbourly Matters service, adds “the number of tower cranes is always a good barometer of development in a city and Birmingham is no exception. Our Neighbourly Matters service operates throughout our UK office network and we are now dealing with a number of developments in Birmingham and the Midlands delivering Rights to Light and Party Wall expertise in particular.”

Within the wider Building Consultancy Group, Josie Hayes, previously of Faithful+Gould, has joined Chris Barnett to lead the team and further develop key services to the existing client base and bring on new and valued clients.

Jason Mound sits within the team and provides development management consultant advice, which complements our other services in the Midlands such as planning, strategic land and development agency.

Collectively, the expertise available within this region and throughout the whole office network cover a full spectrum of building consultancy services, ensuring our clients projects can be fully supported by Rapleys and the client remains at the focus of every project.

It could take until next year to get a final picture on how and where a merged Asda/Sainsbury’s business will have to dispose of sites (stores and petrol stations), according to Mark Frostick. Mark states it will be an even longer term before a final position on pricing is agreed, so, for now, it will be a question of wait and see.

It is likely that the majority of the petrol stations that the new company will operate will be dependent on the food store attachment. In terms of potentially disposed properties, with the discount stores still held as most likely purchasers,  the likelihood of them keeping the petrol elements operational seems very slim indeed. However, it is early days and the outcome could still prove unpredictable.

Mark expands on his expert opinion of the market and the possible outcomes of this merger in the full article in Forecourt Trader here

The very public collapse of House of Fraser and Homebase highlights, once again, the need for retailers, shareholders and landlords to be realistic about the potential pitfalls and solutions created by property assets in an insolvency or distressed sale situation.

Mike Ashley offered £50m for HoF before administration, but once creditors rejected a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) and it filed for administration, an insolvent HoF was worth £40m more to him and Ashley upped his bid to £90m. Why?

Insolvency versus CVA

The benefits to a purchaser of buying an insolvent company is the ability to jettison existing creditors, to negotiate with landlords to novate leases, renegotiate terms with suppliers, vacate properties and to avoid the costs of dilapidation charges to exit stores and of writing down stock. To Mike Ashley, £40m was the opportunity cost of obtaining all the same restructuring choices retailers are increasingly looking to achieve through a CVA – but with a completely free hand.

In contrast, and possibly even because of what unfolded at HoF, nearly 96% of Homebase’s creditors approved a CVA. These creditors will incur the costs of supporting the proposal but the potential upside to the company and ultimately to them, is a return to profitability and of course continued occupation of their asset.

Monthly rental payments, downsize options, rent concession periods and business rate reductions are all tools the Homebase CVA is seeking to implement. Currently 42 of its 241 stores will shut and head office jobs will go. The business plan to improve financial performance over the next three years across a significantly rationalised store portfolio will be the test of a successful CVA process and will be watched closely by the market.

Step change

CVAs, just like Administrations, are governed by the Insolvency Act 1986 but are more restrictive. Whilst there is a growing trend for retailers to seek the CVA route and categorise landlords into different pots as a means of restructuring, it is nothing new.

A decade ago, retailer The Works was under administration. The purchaser didn’t want all the stores so ahead of the sale, and to facilitate the deal being done, some stores were closed and some taken on a ‘licence to occupy’ for between a month and up to a year, allowing the purchaser to renegotiate lease terms, assess trading levels or trade out stock.

So, whilst not a new phenomenon, the pace and frequency of the CVA process is undoubtedly increasing.

Will retailers use insolvency/CVAs to ditch unprofitable stores?

A perfect storm is brewing; declining sales, increasing costs, rising business rates, Brexit-related currency fluctuations, the introduction of the national living wage and apprenticeship levy, and the rapid growth of online retailing. The result is many retail and restaurant businesses toying with CVA or even administration, as a ‘simple’ way to shed unprofitable stores.

Thankfully, there is nothing to suggest, yet, that operators are jumping the gun and using this tool to get their businesses into better shape. This may be because there is still a stigma that comes with pursuing this route and the increased corporate governance scrutiny means directors risk prosecution if their actions are seen to defraud creditors.

CVAs often allow a company to keep trading, which may prove a better outcome for creditors, long-term, than going into administration. For purchasers, buying out of administration allows an element of wiping the slate clean, enabling fresh negotiations on every element of the business, including property assets. As pressure on the high street continues to mount, it’s clear that flexibility and imagination are needed from both retailers and landlords to use property assets more creatively to prevent sizeable losses on both sides.

To learn more or discuss how Rapleys can assist contact Alfred Bartlett, Head of the Retail & Leisure Group or Russell Smith, Partner in Retail & Leisure Group. This article can also be viewed on the CoStar column

All eyes are back on the Sainsbury’s–Asda deal after the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) announced the start of its investigation. Should the deal progress, everyone will be closely watching what happens to the combined business’s property portfolios should the CMA force a sale of stores.

Digging below the surface, we might read this as being phase two of Sainsbury’s strategy of pushing into the discount market. Asda traditionally has a reputation for value and a core customer base which is, generally speaking, a different demographic from the average Sainsbury’s shopper. There are also geographical factors at play here, with Asda strong in the north and Sainsbury’s in the south.

In the case of retained stores, Sainsbury’s will be acquiring some significant issues. The extent to which the Asda stores holding company continues to operate and whether Sainsbury’s decides to, or is able to, guarantee the status of Asda stores may have a real impact on landlord relationships and negotiations in the future.

It is possible that we will see some sort of restructure, with retailers turning to mechanisms such as CVAs, even in businesses that are performing well, to force a conversation with landlords.

At the same time, it shouldn’t be forgotten that both Asda and Sainsbury’s sweet spot is in food retail, with many of the stores Sainsbury’s is acquiring are just too big for the market these days. The fact is that many food retailers are now facing the challenge of having significant surplus space because of historic expansion strategies – an issue Sainsbury’s itself sought to mitigate with the acquisition of Argos. Asda’s policy has generally been based on very large-volume stores and while it has a decent non-food range, the format on the whole is not optimised around the core food product.

Looking ahead, if the CMA forces a re-sale of stores, the irony is that the likely buyers are just those brands – Aldi and Lidl – that Sainsbury’s is looking to defend itself against.

Amazon ambitions

Debate will continue to swirl around Amazon’s bricks-and-mortar ambitions and they will likely be part of the equation, even if they’re not going to be a realistic suitor for true customer-facing stores.

What is perhaps more interesting is whether the CMA considers the likes of B&M and Home Bargains in its deliberations. In some of their larger stores, despite having a restriction of 30% food sales, they could be offering an equivalent sales area to the likes of Aldi and Lidl.

They would be more able to maximise the space on offer in any larger stores that the CMA forces the disposal of, and could arguably compete with the discounters, as well as Sainsbury’s and Asda, on both food and non-food.

Overall, in any enforced sale the most attractive sites will likely be any freehold stores in the Sainsbury’s/Asda portfolio, which may be sacrificed by Sainsbury’s/Asda in order to fulfill the merger requirements.

Another possibility in this scenario is that if no, or limited, prospective buyers for the largest sites can be found, the CMA may be forced to consider forcing a sale of Sainsbury’s smaller or convenience stores. These would arguably be much more attractive to potential buyers and any significant convenience portfolio reduction could be a real fly in the ointment for the merger.

For further discussion or information get in touch with Richard Curry, Partner in Rapleys Retail & Leisure Group. The full article can be viewed here in Property Week as well as The Grocer and European Supermarket Magazine.

Rapleys are delighted to sponsor the networking at the 11th annual Charity Property Conference on Tuesday 3rd July. The conference provides a platform for strategic review and ensures charities are unlocking the potential within their property portfolio.

Graham Smith will be representing Rapleys Charity Consultancy at the event and be on hand to advise across the full spectrum of property related issues. Rapleys can provide a range of services from Qualified Surveyor Reports, the disposal or acquisition of assets as well as assisting in planning queries and issues. If you would like to get in touch ahead of the conference and understand any services we offer click through to the Charities Consultancy page or speak directly with Graham

Full event details can be found on the Civil Society website.

We are pleased to confirm the following promotions (effective May 2018):

Equity Partner

Simon Harbour – Building Consultancy & Project Management

Nick Fell – Affordable Housing & Viability

Neil Jones – Town Planning

Richard Huteson – Town Planning

Partner

James Porter – Building Consultancy & Project Management

Senior Associate

Colin Arnott – Corporate & Investor Management

Associate

Alex Chambers – Building Consultancy & Project Management

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner, adds ‘I am delighted to announce these promotions. They underline the growth and ever increasing profile of the practice. I look forward to sharing our onward journey with them.’

Our Birmingham office has moved!

We are delighted to announce that as of Monday 12 March, we have taken the opportunity to move our Birmingham office to new premises located at:

126 Colmore Row
Birmingham
B3 3AP

0370 777 6292
info@rapleys.com

The larger, newly refurbished office will provide an excellent base for our expanding team in the heart of the thriving business district of Birmingham.

It’s business as usual and all of our phone numbers and email addresses remain as before.

If you are looking for a change and a new job in 2018, we have vacancies!

Take a look at our careers page to see the opportunities we have available. With current vacancies across a range of our sectors and services, now is a great time to join us.

You could be working with an Investors In People awarded company, one who cares about the growth and development of our staff and the high level of service we provide to our clients.

Jump start your career in 2018 and contact Sheila Coulman for more information.

Rapleys wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

We would like to thank you for working with us throughout 2017 and hope you and your colleagues have a wonderful festive break.

Our offices will be closed from 1pm on Friday 22nd December and will re-open on Tuesday 2nd January 2018.

Should you need any urgent help over this period, our property management team and Facilities Helpdesk (0800 988 7021) will be open as usual.

We look forward to working with you in 2018!

Our Bristol office has moved!

We are delighted to announce that as of Friday 01 December, we have taken the opportunity to move our Bristol office to new premises located at:

21 Prince Street
Bristol
BS1 4PH

0370 777 6292
info@rapleys.com

Our newly refurbished office will provide an excellent base for our team in the heart of the city centre.

It’s business as usual and all of our phone numbers and email addresses remain as before.

This week the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, caught the headlines by publishing his new London Plan in advance of a consultation period starting next week. The Plan has been publicised as a major change to the planning regime in London, and was brought forward in large part to encourage homebuilders to develop sites at higher densities to substantially increase supply across the city.

The replacement London Plan will (as advertised) rip up the planning rules in the capital in the sense that it will replace the current London Plan and its amendments, authored by Boris Johnson – the introduction of the draft is very clear on that. However, in general terms the policies in the document follow long standing planning concepts, such as making the best use of accessible land (through increasing densities), strong protection of the Green Belt, discouraging the use of the private car and so on.

The document is 574 pages long and there is much to note, but some of the broader themes are summarised below:

  • The concept of “good growth”, which reads very much like an updated version of “sustainable development”. It is contrasted with “growth at any price”, which the Plan suggests has been the priority in recent years.
  • The document includes some quite detailed guidance on residential development (in its broadest sense), but much attention has been attracted to the focus on removing restrictions to increase the density of residential development, particularly in areas with good public transport accessibility. However, in truth, much development in London in recent years was consented at densities higher (sometimes far higher) than the ranges set out in Mr Johnson’s London Plan.
  • Encouragement of the night-time economy including protection of pubs, and the formalising of the “Agents of Change” concept (which, put simply, is the idea that new development is responsible for ensuring that it is properly mitigated, in terms of noise and disturbance, relative to its prevailing context).
  • A presumption in favour of sustainable development for housing on most smaller sites, albeit with some notable exceptions.
  • In terms of affordable housing, the Plan formalises and continues the principles set out within Mr Khan’s previously published guidance on the matter. There is an overall target of 50% affordable housing across the city, and viability will continue to be a key issue in bringing forward residential development.
  • As flagged in the press before the document was published, the Plan seeks to prevent new takeaways within 400m walking distance of primary or secondary schools (including schools that are merely “proposed”), although it is open to boroughs to set their own distances. Boroughs should also consider whether to manage (ie restrict) over concentration of takeaways in their town centres.
  • Discouragement of the use of the Vacant Building Credit, and a policy against fracking.

In this context, in many respects beyond the policies themselves, much of Mr Khan’s message seems to be that he will be very much a “hands-on” Mayor when it comes to planning and, beyond being involved in larger development proposals, he will also seek to influence smaller development. This would explain policies relating to development on small sites, and the discouraging of new take-aways. These are matters which would not be passed to the Mayor for comment when planning permission is sought for individual proposals, albeit evidently they are proposals that are seen by Mr Khan as raising strategic issues cumulatively.

If – as advertised – the London Plan does act as a catalyst for bringing forward the housing the capital needs, it should be welcomed. In this context, we will be watching trends closely to see how much of an activist Mr Khan ends up being, and just as importantly, the attitude of the local authorities in implementing the more detailed elements of the new Plan (particularly Conservative outer boroughs).

In the interim, comments are sought on the document until 2 March 2018. If you would like to find out more about the draft Plan, and how becoming involved with the consultation might create value for your business, please get in touch with Jason Lowes.

Congratulations to the following staff members who have all achieved promotions:

Lisa Stutely to Senior Associate

James Clark to Senior Associate

Rebecca James to Associate

Tom Dimmock to Senior Client Accountant

Katie Doke to Property Manager

“The promotions are all fully deserved and reflect the contributions to the business each person has made. I would like to thank them for all their hard work and support in the continuing growth and success of the practice.” Rapleys senior partner, Robert Clarke.

Rapleys is pleased to announce the appointment of Natasha Bray as senior associate to head up our London neighbourly matters team.

Earlier this year our dedicated national neighbourly matters service was launched, as overseen by specialist Dan Tapscott. Interest and demand for this service, which includes Rights to Light, Daylight & Sunlight, Party Walls and Access Arrangements, acting for both developers and neighbours to development, has been high leading to expansion.

“Commissions being worked on range across all property sectors and clients, both old and new to Rapleys, are providing excellent feedback. The neighbourly matters service is a great fit alongside existing multi-disciplinary property and planning consultancy teams, which really ensures clients get the best advice.

Natasha is an outgoing, highly experienced Rights to Light and Daylight & Sunlight practitioner who I am confident will play a key role as things develop.” says Dan.

Natasha states “I am ecstatic to be joining Rapleys and to play my part in further growing the expanding neighbourly matters team. Rapleys are very focussed and diligent in becoming a leading face in the neighbourly matters arena and I plan to continue driving this forward.

People are at the heart of everything we do as neighbourly matters consultants, therefore, the client has always been and will always remain our main focus.”

If you are or know someone who would be interested in discussing opportunities to work within our neighbourly matters team, please get in contact.

For more information on any neighbourly matters services or for advice in this area, please contact Dan Tapscott or Natasha Bray.

We are looking for talented people to join our team.

With current vacancies across a range of our sectors and services, now is a great time to join us.

Rapleys has achieved the Standard Award for Investors in People, meaning you could be working for a company who demonstrates a commitment to the development and progression of all staff members and who places high importance on excellent customer service.

IIP-Award-Brand-Mark-Standard-(Boxed)-Pantone-539-

View all our current vacancies here or contact Sheila Coulman for more information.

Whilst the past few years have been quite tumultuous in the country’s political and economic scenes, affecting many property sectors, the demand for church properties has strengthened in many locations.

In our charities consultancy team, we have noted increased demand when bringing new church properties to the market. The sale of a church in Queens Park, for example, saw over 125 different parties inspect the property before a strong bidding process resulted in a sale which almost doubled the client’s price expectations. This has even been the case with demand for some of the less obviously desirable properties in not so popular locations.

Interest has come from a complete spectrum of faith groups as well as other D1 users such as schools, nurseries, dance studios and exhibition halls. These parties are facing increased competition from developers looking to create residential developments or mixed-use redevelopments. Demand from faith groups in particular, who are looking to be owner occupiers, has been so strong that they have secured sufficient financial resources to out-bid these developers.

Repurposed sites

The distinctive history and characteristics of these properties are adding to the allure for many, and often the sites are repurposed from their original use whilst maintaining the D1 planning use. As our social climate evolves, so the community buildings are finding new use with a change of owner. Churches which have become redundant and would have been left to depreciate are receiving a new lease of life particularly in the education sector.

We have been equally busy with new lettings of D1 properties for use by a variety of pre-school activity providers as well as a mix of fitness and lifestyle service providers.

New appointment

Rapleys is very pleased to have been appointed by Manchester Diocesan Board of Finance as property consultants for both their glebe and investment properties.

This appointment reflects the high level service provision from each of our six national offices where amongst others, we already work with the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Thames North and North West Synods of United Reformed Church, and Church of England diocese including Southwark, London, Ely and Chelmsford.

For any more information on the charity property sector, please contact Graham Smith.

After many years of warehousing/distribution being a humdrum, low growth sector of the market, it has been experiencing a lot of change over the past 2 to 3 years.

Recently we have seen:

  • Bigger “mega” sheds commonly >500,000 sq ft and some 1m+ sq ft being developed
  • Buildings getting taller with commonly 15m+ eaves and often 20m+
  • Longer/thinner cross-docked buildings with low site density for delivery/parcel operations
  • Environmentally friendly sheds with green/living roofs, photovoltaic roofs/elevations, wind turbines, water harvesting and low carbon components
  • Quicker developed sheds in c35-40 weeks on enabled plots
  • Sheds with greater elements of automation/handling/delivery systems

These developments have been driven by occupiers seeking greater efficiency in their distribution networks to reduce their costs and carbon footprint to meet the demands of their customers.

At the forefront of this has been the prodigious growth of internet/direct sales activity which includes the pure on-line operators, such as Amazon, and also the e-tail arms of traditional food and non-food retailers as they compete with each other for market share and defend their market presence against the march of the new entrants.

Last mile delivery

The various delivery formats all have speed and efficiency at their core but also have distinct offers such as click and collect in-store or at a pick up point, next day home/office delivery and returns. All of these require an element of “last mile” and quick access to customer markets which dictates a need for smaller satellite sheds in urban fringes being fed by large national or regional hubs located on strategic motorway junctions.

One of the major issues facing the market has been a lack of land supply in these urban and metropolitan fringe locations. The supply of employment land has been squeezed by other competing uses and particularly by residential use which has the advantage of a strong political will for more housing development nationally.

Securing strategic sites

This has played into the hands of the key logistics developers such as SEGRO, Goodman, ProLogis, IDI Gazeley and others who had the foresight to secure strategic sites throughout the national trunk road network and take these through the planning and enabling process. They are now well placed to respond rapidly to the evolving demands of occupiers. In previous development cycles there was vastly more speculative development undertaken, but scarred by the large number of buildings remaining void for years after the financial crash, the market, particularly in the 100,000 sq ft + bracket, is more of a build to suit one nowadays.

This has led to minimum lease lengths pushing out to 10 or 15 years, tenant incentives such as rent free shortening significantly and rents showing the most sustained period of growth ever recorded.

What’s next on the horizon for the market?……..greater automation including autonomous vehicles and drone deliveries….and perhaps underground sheds?

For any further information on the warehouse/distribution market, please contact Colin Steele.

As with any development, although you may have been granted planning permission, this does not necessarily mean you can build your proposal. A Right to Light is an easement, similar to a Right of Way.

If Rights to Light are ignored and your development negatively affects your neighbour’s property, it could lead to an injunction (stopping the offending part of the development being constructed or removing it) or potentially sizeable compensation further down the line.

It is therefore in a developer’s best interest to tackle Rights to Light matters early on.

In each instance three questions need to be asked:

1) Have the affected windows of the property acquired a Right to Light?

2) If a Right to Light has been acquired, will unreasonable interference be caused by the proposed development?

3) If unreasonable interference is likely, what is the most likely remedy; an injunction or damages?

Dan Tapscott leads our Neighbourly Matters team and recently wrote an article published in Daylighting Magazine which discusses the key factors involved in undertaking a Rights to Light analysis and how to limit objections from the neighbours of your development.

Click here to read the full article.

Contact Dan for more information.

Read more articles from Dan in Daylighting Magazine (Issues 3 & 4)! Click here

There is a growing trend throughout the grocery store sector to build on top of existing stores to deliver new homes. Property Week recently reported on the concept stating that “numerous retailers have explored the potential of doing air rights developments”.

Richard Curry, partner in Rapleys’ retail & lesire group, was quoted in the article stating that is not just the grocery sector but also retail stores and retail parks which could benefit.

“There is an avenue to be looked at here,” he says. “And I don’t think the DIY retailers are going to be as affected by loss of trade as some of the grocers, who are potentially losing out on customers doing their weekly food shop [while building works take place].”

Read the full article in Property Week here.

Automotive businesses are swiftly realising that traditional retail models are no longer sufficient.

Technological convergence is rapidly accelerating change in the motor retail sector and is leading to a significant evolution in strategy.

Mark Frostick, senior associate in Rapleys’ Automotive & Roadside team, recently spoke to IMI Magazine (The Institute of Motor Industry) about how and why automotive businesses should alter their product offering to keep up with changing customer needs.

He states that “as the notion of the dealership and wider forecourt experience continues to evolve, diversification will play a central role and undoubtedly opens up a world of possibilities for additional income, new customers and less risk.

However, they must be planned for and implemented strategically, with a careful eye towards the long-term management of the business and its property assets.”

Click here to read the full article published in IMI Magazine and find out more about diversification in the automotive sector.

For more information, please contact Mark.

The UK’s food retail sector has seen a significant shake-up in recent years. Challenges caused by e-commerce, changing consumer habits and the rise of challengers such as Lidl and Aldi has seen many operators reassess their property portfolios and requirements.

Richard Curry, partner in Rapleys’ Retail & Leisure Group, recently spoke to Property Investor News about the food retail property investment market.

He states that there is now “an environment where food retailers are being far more selective in terms of their store requirements as they streamline product offering. Investors must therefore be similarly selective over their acquisition strategy.

Fundamentally investors should, like food and retail occupiers, prepare to take affirmative action to ensure efficient and profitable portfolio performance in what is an increasingly dynamic and changing market.”

Click the link to the right to read the full article published in Property Investor News and find out more about the factors influencing the market, the changes in optimum store size and the challenges and opportunities for the sector.

For more information, please contact Richard.

Although the majority of the delayed Queen’s Speech, and the media coverage of it, was predictably focused on Brexit, some development related matters were squeezed in.

Housing

Readers may recall that the Housing White Paper, published in February, identified the nation’s “broken” housing market as one of the “greatest barriers to progress” in Britain today. Notwithstanding this, the need for more homes was restricted to one passing reference in the speech, as an add-on to non-development related property reforms.

There is a commitment to delivering the reforms proposed in the White Paper, but this is only outlined on two thirds of a page towards the end of the background notes of the speech. There is little detail about how this is to be achieved, except for an implication that any initiatives will be pursued through non-legislative means.

Roadside development

In contrast to fixing the housing market, encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles is considered by the Government to be worthy of new legislation. The thinking behind this is perhaps difficult to argue with, but a part of the proposal is a requirement for motorway service areas (MSAs) and “large fuel retailers” to provide electric vehicle charge points.

Most MSAs have already installed charging points, but the vagueness of, and the potential financial burden arising from, the second category of facilities has already caused some concern in the industry. If “large fuel retailers” refers to operators, rather than individual facilities themselves, this could have a significant and detrimental impact on smaller and tighter sites, as few amenities can be offered whilst charging takes place, and space is already at a premium.

HS2

Also benefiting from its own bill is the next stage of the HS2 link between Birmingham and Crewe. The bill will include details relative to compulsory purchase of the land required to deliver it, as well as granting deemed planning permission to deliver the scheme (with the details to be developed in coordination with the relevant local authorities).

Commentary

Although most recognise that Brexit will consume much of the Government’s time over the coming years, the Queen’s Speech suggests that development is now quite low on its list of priorities. This is particularly true of housing, which the Government itself has identified as one of the largest matters that Britain needs to address. If this is the case, at the very least one can anticipate a continued gap between development pressure and local appetite (in much of the country) for it.

As ever, time will tell – Rapleys will continue to keep a close eye on the situation, and keep you informed of developments as they emerge.

~ Jason Lowes

Rapleys is delighted to announce that four of our graduate surveyors have passed their APC and are now registered members of RICS. This was a 100% success rate for Rapleys.

We pass on our congratulations to:

Well done all!

Rapleys continues its expansion in the Midlands with the appointment of a new partner to establish and lead the Building Consultancy team in the firm’s Birmingham office.

Balvinder Sagoo joins from GVA where he spent 11 years, the last 5 as a director. He has more than 17 years’ commercial building surveying experience in the Midlands with his key clients at GVA including Aviva, ABB, Canada Life and CBRE Global Investors.

Balvinder’s skills greatly complement Rapleys’ existing Building Consultancy and Project Management offer, and he also brings with him a wealth of experience in the office and retail sectors for occupiers and investors.

Balvinder said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to join a progressive partnership with an established national team but with the remit to develop our building surveying business in the midlands.

My focus will be to complement our existing transactional and professional functions, more specifically refurbishment, fit out, dilapidations and technical due diligence. We will also be offering project management and cost consultancy, alongside traditional building surveying services.”

Rapleys established its Birmingham office last year with a retail & leisure agency and development team, and is looking to further grow in this expanding market in the near future.

Head of office Alfred Bartlett said: “I am delighted to have someone of Balvinder’s standing in the market joining the office and partnership. Our ambition is to grow the Rapleys offer in Birmingham to cover the full range of services to developer, investor, landlord and occupier clients. Balvinder’s appointment is part of the ongoing strategy to fulfill this objective.”

Contact Alfred

For the first time since its publication in 2012, the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) guidance has been subject to a ruling by the Supreme Court. The judgment provided much needed clarity on a long running debate concerning paragraph 49, which states that ‘relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up to date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing sites’.


The Background

The debate about paragraph 49 was crystalised in two conflicting decisions by planning inspectors in separate appeals, with one inspector favouring a wide interpretation of ‘relevant policies’ to include all policies that influence housing development, and the other taking the view that only policies specifically concerned with housing supply are deemed relevant. These decisions were subsequently challenged and the Court of Appeal ruled that the definition of ‘relevant policies’ could include all policies that create or constrain land (such as green belt and countryside protection policies) for housing development (i.e. the wider interpretation).

Supreme Court Ruling

However, the Court of Appeal’s ruling was itself challenged. As a result the much anticipated Supreme Court judgement last week ruled that the Court of Appeal was wrong and that ‘relevant policies for the supply of housing’ legally requires a narrow interpretation. As such, policies that are not specifically related to housing supply will not be deemed “out of date” where a local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five year housing land supply. However, the judgement goes further than this, emphasising that the absence of a five year housing land supply triggers NPPF paragraph 14 and the “presumption in favour of sustainable development”. This means that restrictive policies will remain a relevant consideration; however, these policies will have reduced weight if a five year supply cannot be demonstrated.

What does this mean?

Whilst it is early days, the Supreme Court ruling indicates that:

  • If a Local Authority cannot demonstrate a five year housing land supply, only a narrow range of policies are out of date. However, the decision maker still needs to give weight to the lack of five year housing land supply against a wider range of policies.
  • The weighting applied will be at the discretion of the decision maker, with differing approaches potentially being taken. Whilst the Supreme Court judgment is clear that restrictive non-housing supply related policies should carry reduced weight in the absence of a five year housing supply, local planning authorities could nonetheless seek to rely on such policies if they are minded to resist development, particularly in sensitive areas such as the Green Belt.
  • Given the subjectivity involved in the decision making process, planning by appeal is still likely to continue as decision makers grapple with applying the appropriate weight to policies which would otherwise limit housing development.

For more information on this please contact Andrea Herrick or any other member of our nationwide planning team.

 

 

We have much to report as the business enters its new financial year from May 1st. Here are just some of the headlines.

Birmingham and Building Consultancy

Balvinder Sagoo has been appointed as Partner to establish and lead our Building Consultancy team in Birmingham and the wider Midlands.

Balvinder joins from GVA where he acted for a range of private sector clients and brings with him extensive experience in all aspects of commercial business surveying.

Rapleys entered the Birmingham market in 2016 with the acquisition of Bartlett Property. Balvinder’s appointment enhances and expands our service offering from the Birmingham office (which already comprises professional and transactional business). Watch this space for further appointments in Birmingham over the coming months.

Corporate & Investor Management

Our property management business has been strategically renamed Corporate & Investor Management.

Under the leadership of Jeremy Day, who joined as Partner in January, this is an increased area of focus for Rapleys. The rebranding more accurately reflects the variety and scope of our work for corporate occupiers and property investors.

The team’s structure now allows us to deliver best practice and develop our distinct corporate and investor capabilities. We are adding to our technology platform to provide enhanced access for clients, as well as increasing our consulting services.

The team manages real estate in all sectors nationally from our hub in Huntingdon and our five other UK offices. Our professional staff are experts in the management of data, on-boarding portfolios and taking care of the important day to day duties, including service charges, insurance, rent collection and payment. The focus is always on quality, responsiveness and good customer service, with a careful eye on risk management and compliance to keep everyone safe.

Retail

We have restructured our retail business in the interests of providing a more dynamic and cohesive offer to the market.

Previously, the partnership’s retail business comprised distinct teams in agency, development and lease consultancy. Now, these service lines are combined into a single market sector team (operating from all our six offices), with national support from our investment, management and planning departments.

This new retail team will be led by Alfred Bartlett, with Russell Smith maintaining responsibility for agency and Tim Holt being the principal contact for lease consultancy. They are all partners.

Promotions

We are pleased to announce the following promotions:

Dan Cook – Partner

Mark Frostick – Senior Associate

Guy Owen – Senior Associate

Robert Frost – Associate

The promotions reflect the contributions made to our business and, more particularly, our client base.

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner, commented that “The business continues to grow and remains committed to the pursuit of high quality service lines, on a nationwide basis, for the benefit of our clients. These headlines demonstrate our drive to deliver.”

Rapleys is delighted to announce the appointment of Steve Sulston as Head of Strategic Land. Steve represents the ongoing commitment and investment which Rapleys are placing in the residential development sector. Working nationally, Steve will advise on strategic site identification and acquisition as well as the project management of sites from planning and through the development process.

Steve joins from Avant Homes where he was Head of Strategic Land for the Midlands and Yorkshire Region. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge from both the private and public sector, having previously worked for national house builders, housing associations and a regional Government Agency. Alongside this, he has also regularly worked with Neighbourhood Plan Teams and community groups to ensure land controlled by developers brings value and benefits to the local community.

Steve commented “I am excited to be joining Rapleys at a time when they are enhancing their development offering and am delighted to be playing a key role in this. The strategic land sector is becoming increasingly more attractive as the Government’s push for housing delivery sees older landholdings receiving planning permission and providers looking for future continuity of supply. Rapleys’ pro active approach to site identification and promotion offers a one stop shop to clients looking to invest in that pipeline.”

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner of Rapleys, commented “I am delighted to have Steve on board. He has a wealth of experience within the residential sector and will, undoubtedly, underpin the practice’s profile as a key player in strategic land with the support of our town planning team.”

The Revaluation comes into force on 1st April but the new rate bills for 2017/2018 will be coming out any time now, indeed some have already arrived.

There has been a huge amount of discussion in the press in the last few weeks because there are areas, particularly in London and the South East, where Rateable Values have increased considerably.

For certain areas there have been falls in Rateable Value, indeed government statistics suggest half of all ratepayers will see no increase or a fall in rate bills, 25% will see modest rises but the remaining 25% will see significant increases.

There is a “Transition System” that phases in the increases and decreases in liability. Unfortunately for those whose rate bills should be falling there will be very limited reductions because these are, effectively, funding the limitations on the increases.

Company Registration

The government will require business ratepayers and appointed agents to register on the government website. Agents will be given a special reference code once registered which the ratepayer must use to invite the agent to act on their behalf.

Property Registration

Although the system is not yet in place, the Valuation Office (VO) has stated that business ratepayers will also have to register their property portfolio on the government website.

At a recent meeting with the VO, Rapleys was told that properties have to be registered individually by the ratepayer and that they will not be able to drop them in from a spreadsheet for instance and furthermore, this cannot be undertaken by the ratepayers agent. Although various organisations, including Rapleys, have been pressing for a more sensible and practical way of doing this, the Government does not yet appear to have moved at all.

New Check, Challenge and Appeal system

The government and VO are determined to reduce the number of Business Rate appeals by introducing a more complex three stage system which also requires an appeal fee at the third stage.

Stage 1 – “Check”

This will involve checking all the facts on a property that the VO has within their records. For example, the floor area, whether the property has heating, air conditioning, raised floors, sprinklers or insulation etc.

If there is a disagreement with VO records then proof of the differences have to be submitted. If the VO agrees, or even partially agrees, then they will serve a notice to amend the assessment.

The VO has twelve months to respond to a “Check” and if nothing happens within twelve months the “Challenge” stage can commence.

If the VO does respond within 12 months and there is disagreement with the response, there is just four months available to lodge a “Challenge”.

It should also be mentioned that if someone “knowingly, needlessly or recklessly” supplies incorrect information there can be a £500 fine.

Stage 2 – “Challenge”

Here it will be necessary to submit in writing the reasons why one thinks the VO assessment is incorrect. This will involve providing rental evidence to support the case, such as evidence of other assessments of similar properties to the one in question.

The VO then has 18 months to respond and if they do not, the case can move onto Stage 3 – “Appeal”.

If the VO does reply and there is some disagreement with the response, again there is just four months to lodge an appeal.

Stage 3 – “Appeal”

This is an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal (VT) and involves a fee of either £150 for small businesses (less than 10 employees or a turnover of less than £2m per annum) and £300 for all other businesses.

If successful, the appeal fee will be refunded but it is not clear whether the appeal has to be wholly or partially successful.

Should the VO change their mind between the Challenge stage and the VT hearing and agreement is reached, then half the appeal fee will be refunded.

There was speculation of the government imposing an arbitrary minimum fixed percentage review of 15% which would have meant that if the VT did not believe the assessment was more than 15% out then the VT would not have been able to reduce the assessment at all.

However, common sense has prevailed with many agents and institutions insisting this was completely unfair. The VT will now be required to decide whether the existing assessment is a reasonable valuation. If the VT does not agree it is reasonable then they can provide a decision reducing the assessment. The decision is thankfully now back with the VT rather than limited by a grossly unfair government proposal.

Currently none of the legislation is yet in place but the general consensus is that most of what is detailed above will be coming into force shortly.

For any help with your business rates please contact Alan Watson.

 

Property Week 17/02/2017

Nicholas King, director at Formal Investments, has a vision for a new warehouse in London that many have labelled “ambitious”. Reading between the lines, it is perhaps a polite way of saying the idea is complicated, daring, brave, foolish, crazy even.

Rapleys partner Colin Steele discusses whether sheds going underground is a viable option for companies and the potential value that may or may not be added.

Read the full Property Week article here.

Property Week 14/02/2017

These days even die-hard Luddites are shopping on their smartphones. Technology is transforming the way people buy goods and that is transforming the logistics sector.

Rapleys Partner Colin Steele looks comments on how the logistics sector is becoming increasingly affected by technology and how the industry is reacting to these changes.

To read the full article please click here

Property Week 07/02/2017

Industry reaction to today’s Housing White Paper, which set out tougher rules for developers and councils in a bid to speed up delivery.

Read the key takeaways from the housing white paper in our summary.

Rapleys Partner Jason Lowes provides comments following the Housing White paper published this week, providing insight in to local councils and authorities and how it will affect them.

To read all the reaction in full from Property week please click here.

Property Week 20/01/2017

Most of us contemplate any dealings with a car salesman with a sense of dread. Sure, you get a car at the end of it, but first you have to endure an over-enthusiastic dealer, hell-bent on expounding the merits of heated car seats whether your budget allows it or not.

Not any more. These days, more and more car manufacturers and dealerships are electing to trade from shopping centre malls and high streets where they can offer customers something more experiential and informal – and, crucially, using less space.

Daniel Cook, Rapleys Senior Associate from the Automotive & Roadside team provides comments on new shopping centre showrooms and what threats they have on traditional showrooms.

Read the full Property Week article click here

Forecourttrader.co.uk 09/01/2017

Decent sites are harder to come by so will we see more new-to-industry (NTI) developments?

After a year of big merger and acquisition stories – Euro Garages with EFR (European Forecourt Retail Group) and MFG’s purchase of Synergie Holdings and Roadside Group to name just two – the verdict on the forecourt property market is in. Last year was a good one, demand is still strong but it’s a lack of supply that’s the problem.

Mark Frostick, associate in Rapleys’ Automotive & Roadside team, discusses ground sites and their potential costs. He states “Yes, we’ll see more NTI, out-of-the-ground sites, but the problem is the cost of them, what with the price of the land and the building etc.”

To read the full Forecourttrader.com article please click here.

 

Motortrader.com 12/12/2016

From Trump to Brexit, 2016 was a year full of shocks and surprises, with experts and commentators wrong footed.  Predicting 2017 is, therefore, difficult at best, if not foolhardy.

There are, though, some trends and flashpoints which we can be sure will impact on the motor trade next year.

Firstly, demand for property is likely to remain high with a large number of requirements for both franchised and used car sites remaining unfulfilled.

The biggest issue here looks set to be the continued lack of available sites, either existing or in development, and this challenge will likely set much of the agenda for 2017.

Meanwhile, with the changes in environmental certificate (EPC) requirements being introduced in early 2018 we might expect to see some landlords looking to let less energy efficient premises at a discount towards the end of 2017, before they have to comply with the new regulations.

Mark Frostick, Rapleys  Associate in the Automotive & Roadside team, provides the blog for Motortrader.com

Read the full blog from Motortrader.com click here

Rapleys is delighted to announce the appointment of Jeremy Day as Partner.

Jeremy takes up a lead role in the Corporate & Investor Management business. He will advise and support represented clients and develop the corporate service lines offered by the practice on a nationwide basis.  He brings a new dimension to the team and will help drive forward Rapleys’ strategy to cement their position as one of the UK’s leading independent property and planning consultants.

Jeremy moved from JLL to Capita in 2014 and has now started his new role at Rapleys.

Jeremy, a well known figure in the field of corporate occupiers, was previously a partner at King Sturge where he led their corporate real estate team through its merger with JLL in 2011 and then focused on JLL’s UK corporate occupier clients. At Capita, he drove developments, particularly in the field of utility companies and large land-owning corporates. Jeremy is an active member of the RICS Corporate Occupier Group, past Chair of the Federation of Corporate Real Estate, and an associate lecturer at Oxford Brookes University. He has regularly lobbied on matters affecting occupiers, including lease accounting, service charges and energy/environmental regulations.

Jeremy commented: “I am excited to be joining Rapleys who are a leading UK private practice with an excellent reputation and numerous long-standing client relationships. This feels very much like coming full circle after 5 years in larger organisations and I am confident there is great demand for astute real estate advice delivered by experienced professionals within a partnership culture. I see clients benefiting enormously from our joined-up support in an ever-changing real estate world.”

Rapleys Senior Partner Robert Clarke confirmed: “We are delighted Jeremy is joining Rapleys. He brings a wealth of knowledge, contacts and experience in occupier and management services and will play a pivotal role in the expansion of our business. Jeremy joins at a time when Rapleys are actively developing our service offering and follows other recent high profile appointments. We continue to search out good people in pursuit of delivering excellent service to our clients”.

Rapleys will now offer Neighbourly Matters services after the appointment of leading specialist, Dan Tapscott. Dan, who joins as a partner, will establish and lead the national service offering from his base in Bristol and is looking to quickly establish a team across the UK.

The new department will help drive forward Rapleys’ long-term strategy to cement its position as one of the UK’s leading independent property and planning firms. 

Focusing on rights to light, party walls, daylight & sunlight amenity and access arrangements, Dan will support developers in maximising the development potential on their sites from inception to completion. He will also be representing neighbours to construction projects to protect and preserve their assets.

The team has already begun to be built with Jo Colebrook joining as a graduate surveyor in January.

Dan states “I am genuinely excited to be joining Rapleys. They are focused and ambitious and their multi-disciplinary services compliment my skillset in the field of Neighbourly Matters perfectly.

Having gained experience on notable schemes over the past 10 years in the South West, I am looking forward to replicating this throughout the Rapleys office network and establishing our team as the go to provider of Neighbourly Matters consultancy services UK wide.”

Robert Clarke, senior partner at Rapleys, commented:

“I am looking forward to working alongside Dan. He has an excellent reputation in the market. His appointment demonstrates our ability to attract specialist, and quality, professionals to the partnership. He will lead our new service line in neighbourly matters. His skill set will complement our existing Building Consultancy and Town Planning teams, to the benefit of our client base.”

With the first revaluation of business rates since 2010 due to take effect in April 2017, it is wise for all businesses that are liable for this tax to be prepared.

Rateable Values are assessed by the Inland Revenue Valuation Office, and for the forthcoming revaluation, this represents the annual rent that the premises would have been expected to achieve at 1st April 2015. It is anticipated that many businesses will see significant increases in their business rates payments.

The relevant date in respect of the current rating list is April 2008, which pre dates the credit crisis that affected the country. This is one reason why the Government decided to defer the usual revaluation (once every five years) for a further two years in the hope the rental market had recovered and there were no adverse effects on tax income from business rates.

We will shortly get access to the draft rating list, due to be released at the end of September, which will give rating advisers an opportunity to forecast changes to rate bills and to consider the benefits of following the appeals process.

With the likely business rate increases many businesses will no doubt want to challenge their liability but there are to be many changes to the appeals process which will involve an onerous check, challenge and appeal process. This replaces the straightforward approach currently in operation.

The changes are set to cause many difficulties for experienced rating advisers, let alone businesses that are not represented, as there are a number of proposed regulation changes still being discussed. One proposal is that even if you manage to jump the hurdles to have your appeal heard at a Valuation Tribunal, the onus will be on the ratepayer to prove that the assessment is outside the bounds of “reasonable professional judgement” which is not defined and could mean businesses are forced to pay far more than they should.

It is clear that the revaluation will not be universally popular, but the route to making a stand against the revised rate bill without professional guidance will be even less so.

Rapleys, a property and planning consultancy, has significant experience providing specialist business rates advice. For over 30 years Rapleys has successfully reduced clients’ operational costs and over the life of the 2010 rating list has saved over £60 million to date for clients including Thomas Cook, Marshall Motor Group, Spicerhaart, Tesco, Dreams, Majestic Wines & Topps Tiles.

We work across a range of sectors including automotive & roadside, charities/non profit, healthcare, industrial & distribution, office, residential, retail & leisure, and transport & infrastructure.

If you would like advice on your business rates and the implications of the revaluation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Rapleys rating team.

Our Manchester office has moved!

We are delighted to announce that as of Monday 08 August, we have taken the opportunity to move our Manchester office to new premises located at:

55 Spring Gardens
Manchester
M2 2BY

0370 777 6292
info@rapleys.com

Our new office, with its modern, open plan space gives us an ideal base from which to build on relationships with clients in Manchester and the wider area.

It’s business as usual and all of our phone numbers and email addresses remain as before.

Rapleys is delighted to announce that it has appointed Ben Read as a Partner based in its Bristol office.

Ben joins the practice’s nationwide planning department and will be promoting a range of planning applications for developers, land owners and occupiers. Prior to joining Rapleys Ben was with Hunter Page.

Senior partner Robert Clarke at Rapleys commented: “I am pleased to welcome Ben to the partnership. He brings a wealth of experience in managing, and promoting, residential and commercial schemes through the planning system. He will, undoubtedly, foster and contribute to our ever growing planning business (both nationally and in the south west market).”

Ben Read commented: “I am delighted to have joined Rapleys and am looking forward to contributing to a nationally recognised planning team in what is an exciting period of growth for the business.”

 

We are also pleased to welcome the following new starters to Rapleys:

Pankaj Vara as an associate in the viability/affordable housing team based in the London office.

Andrew Priestley as a surveyor in our development consultancy team based in the London office

Alexandra Weatherilt as a surveyor in the automotive and roadside team based in the Manchester office.

Simon Burrage as a surveyor in the building consultancy team based in the London office.

Matthew Nicoll as an associate in the property management team based in Huntingdon.

In May 2016, Rapleys acquired Birmingham based surveying firm, Bartlett Property.

To celebrate the opening of the Birmingham office, Rapleys held a drinks reception at Hotel du Vin on Wednesday 15 June to welcome new partner Alfred Bartlett to the practice.

The event was attended by a range of key faces from Birmingham’s commercial property community, including key contacts and clients from both Bartlett Property and Rapleys.

Despite the wet weather, a fun night was had by all and it proved to be a successful launch for Rapleys new presence in the city.

The new Birmingham office, located on Newhall Street, adds to Rapleys existing office network around the UK, including Bristol, Edinburgh, Huntingdon, London and Manchester.

Please click here to listen to a podcast by Rapleys’ senior partner, Robert Clarke, discussing Rapleys growth strategy and the new Birmingham office:

http://www.egi.co.uk/news/rapleys-launches-birmingham-office/?cmpid=NLC|EGIx|EGDPM-2016|glob&sfid=701w0000000wsc7

Leading property and planning consultancy Rapleys has today unveiled a significantly refreshed brand and visual identity as it continues an unprecedented period of growth and expansion. The firm’s new look, including a new website, will help drive forward Rapleys’ long-term strategy to cement its position as one of the UK’s leading independent property and planning firms. 

For more than 60 years, Rapleys has provided market-leading advice and services to a broad range of clients across a diverse range of sectors, including automotive & roadside, retail & leisure, business space, healthcare and residential. The new Rapleys brand will build on this heritage, but also look to the future and the firm’s ambitions.

The launch of the new brand comes at a major juncture in the firm’s evolution. Since the election of Robert Clarke as senior partner in April 2015, the firm has significantly accelerated its growth and expansion. This has included, for the first time in its history, the pursuit of strategic acquisitions, beginning with chartered surveyors Biscoe Craig Hall in September 2015. The firm also recently announced the acquisition of commercial property advisers and surveyors Bartlett Property, adding Birmingham to its existing network of five offices across the UK.

Rapleys’ new brand will assist this growth profile, nurture the firm’s highly-valued and longstanding client relationships and establish a platform for success in a new era by putting the firm’s client-focussed, highly personal and commercially driven approach centre stage on a national basis.

Robert Clarke, senior partner at Rapleys, commented:

“This is an incredibly exciting time for Rapleys, with a number of recent acquisitions contributing to our continued expansion. Refreshing our brand was a natural next step in this journey, and positions us well to further accelerate our growth and realise our ambitions.

“The property industry is rapidly evolving, with new demands from clients creating both challenges and opportunities. With the right mix of organic growth and targeted acquisitions, we are better placed than ever to provide market-leading advice on a personal and nationwide basis to clients as they look to succeed and thrive in this dynamic property landscape.”

Rapleys has advised Marshall Motor Holdings plc (MMH) regarding their acquisition of Ridgeway Garages for £106.9m.

The Rapleys team, led by partner Phil Blackford, provided strategic valuation and property advice to MMH, one of the UK’s leading automotive retail and leasing groups, as part of the due diligence process. Ridgeway is a multi-franchise dealer group operating across the affluent southern home counties of England, Wiltshire and Dorset, representing 12 brands via 30 franchised dealerships.

Described by the company as a ‘truly transformational’ transaction, the strategic acquisition means that MMH will move from 10th to the 7th largest motor dealer group in the UK. The deal was completed on 26 May.

Phil Blackford, partner and head of Rapleys automotive and roadside team, said:

“We are delighted to be asked to assist the MMH acquisition team in providing strategic valuation and property advice as part of the due diligence process. This proved to be an important part of the process, given that the aggregate property value accounted for approximately 50% of the acquisition price.”

Daksh Gupta, chief executive of Marshall Motor Holdings plc, added:

“We chose Rapleys to advise us on the transformational acquisition of Ridgeway due to their track record in the space. We needed confidentiality, expediency, expertise and professionalism, and Rapleys delivered. Thank you Phil Blackford and team Rapleys.”

As part of Rapleys’ continued investment in the development of employees we are pleased to announce the latest promotions:

  • Alun Jones (Development, London) to Equity Partner
  • Graham Smith (Charities Consultancy, London) to Non-Equity Partner
  • Jennifer Lemen-Hogarth (Lease Consultancy, Bristol) to Senior Associate
  • Jemma Cam (Town Planning, Bristol) to Associate
  • Gary Collins (Town Planning, London) to Associate
  • Jessica Lockwood (A&R/Development, Huntingdon/London) to Senior Surveyor

“The promotions reflect their contributions to the business and are thoroughly deserved. I would like to thank them for all their hard work and support in the continuing growth and success of the practice.” Rapleys Senior partner, Robert Clarke.

Property and planning consultancy, Rapleys, is delighted to announce that it has achieved the Standard Award for Investors in People following a recent assessment.

This success reflects its commitment to its staff and acknowledges the efforts of everyone who works within the organisation.  Excellent service to clients can only be achieved by staff that are motivated, properly trained and given opportunities for development. Rapleys has an excellent rate of repeat business and this fact is testament to the quality of the staff it employs.

Investors in People (IIP) provides a framework for organisations to improve their business performance through the development of staff, in order to help them and their company reach their personal and collective potential.
The IIP assessor’s report noted “…. Rapleys culture is an extremely positive one and feedback from the staff confirmed this.”

Robert Clarke, senior partner of Rapleys, commented:

“We are extremely pleased to have been awarded IIP accreditation. It provides us with a framework for planning future strategy and action. The firm would not be what it is today without our dedicated staff and it is only right that we invest in them and their future.”

Rapleys is pleased to announce the acquisition of commercial property advisory and surveying firm Bartlett Property. The addition of the Birmingham-based firm further expands Rapleys’ existing office network to six locations across the UK, alongside London, Bristol, Edinburgh, Huntingdon and Manchester.

Bartlett Property has been operating for over 10 years and has developed a market leading position in the retail, leisure, roadside, and trade park arenas. The company is recognised as providing in-depth and comprehensive advice in relation to the acquisition, disposal, development, investment, and asset management within its specialist sectors.

Bartlett director Alfred Bartlett, who is well known to Rapleys, having worked at the firm in the 90’s joins as partner and will lead the Birmingham-based team from its offices at Cornwall Buildings, 45 – 51 Newhall Street, B3 3QR.

This deal represents the second such acquisition by Rapleys in less than a year. In September 2015, the firm announced the acquisition of London-based chartered surveying firm Biscoe Craig Hall, the first acquisition in its 60-year history.

Robert Clarke, senior partner of Rapleys, commented:

“I am delighted to welcome Bartlett Property to Rapleys. The firm’s sector capability clearly complements Rapleys’ core areas of expertise, and will further enhance and develop our offering to clients. We are very much looking forward to working closely with Alfred again, and we welcome both his regional and sector knowledge to the team.”

“This acquisition is part of our on-going strategy to expand the business and continue our trajectory of growth. This move into Birmingham and the Midlands is another piece in the geographical jigsaw, enabling us to provide a nationwide service to our clients through our office network.”

Alfred Bartlett added:

“I have always had an affinity with Rapleys and am very pleased to be re-joining the fold. I am looking forward to contributing to the firm’s continued growth which couldn’t come at a better time given the thriving Birmingham and Midlands market. The opportunity to expand our client base and demonstrate not only the specific retail agency and development skills that Bartlett Property brings but also the wider and comprehensive services that Rapleys offers is very exciting. The combination of services will also better serve the combined client base nationally.”

Following David Cameron’s recent announcement that businesses affected by flooding will get 100% business rates relief, Rapleys is offering to help anyone in need of assistance in England to get the appropriate relief, completely free of charge.

The government’s plans, while short on detail, appear largely to be a re-announcement of the existing guidance that any business premises affected by flood damage which renders the premises incapable of occupation will qualify for 100% relief from business rates for a period up to three months from the date of the flood.

In the event of flood damage being experienced, an application must be made immediately to the relevant local council.

Rapleys is offering assistance free of charge to anyone in England who needs help in securing the relief on offer, and we would urge anybody who feels they might be entitled to a reduction to contact one of our team:

Nik Moore
07831 099095
nrm@rapleys.co.uk

Alan Watson
07917 352428
acw@rapleys.co.uk

Mike Rose
07599 285201
jmr@rapleys.co.uk

Stacey Jolly
07714 133953
scj@rapleys.co.uk