As published in Forecourt Trader on 14 September.

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 A seven-fold increase in demand for petrol filling stations occurred in the first month following the easing of the UK’s Coronavirus lockdown restrictions, according to Rapleys, the property and planning consultancy. 

Rapleys’ Automotive and Roadside team, who manage the property needs of fuel retail operators of all sizes across the UK, received seven times as many enquiries in in the month of July, following the easing of lockdown restrictions, as they did in April during the height of the lockdown.

To read the article in full please click here.

Gateway 14 Ltd, advised by its development manager Jaynic, has appointed property consultants Avison Young and Rapleys to market the 156-acre mixed-use and logistics scheme at Junction 50 of the A14 at Stowmarket, Suffolk. Jaynic was appointed as development manager earlier this month.

Strategic real estate advisor Avison Young has been appointed to market the overall scheme both in the UK and internationally and Rapleys has been appointed to investigate the roadside potential of the site given its immediate proximity to the A14. A further marketing agency appointment will be made in the near future with local and regional expertise to identify occupier demand in East Anglia.

Sir Christopher Haworth, chairman of Gateway 14, said: “We are moving ahead rapidly with Gateway 14 and realising our vision of delivering a multi-million pound boost for the wider economic area of Mid Suffolk. We are delighted to have Avison Young and Rapleys on board alongside Jaynic to deliver this very exciting scheme.”

Ben Oughton, development director of Jaynic, said: “This is a key site for Stowmarket, and East Anglia as a whole and with the help of Jaynic and the agents we are seeking to attract a mix of occupiers providing a range of employment opportunities that could create thousands of jobs for the town.”

John Allan, Director, National Industrial & Distribution at Avison Young, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed as lead marketing agent on this strategically important scheme for Suffolk.”

Alfred Bartlett, Head of Retail & Leisure Group at Rapleys LLP, said: “We are delighted to have been instructed to advise on this strategically located and highly prominent opportunity, and look forward to working with Jaynic to bring the development forward. Our appointment at such an early stage in the master planning of the scheme allows us to influence the layout, mix make up of occupier to reflect the market and more importantly adapt to specific operators’ requirements. We would encourage interested parties to make contact to discuss how they might be accommodated at Gateway 14.”

Gateway 14 Ltd, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mid Suffolk District Council and has just appointed Jaynic as the development manager for the scheme. This will provide up to 2.3 million sq ft of business, logistics and commercial accommodation over the next 10-15 years, with the first buildings being available in 2021/2. A planning application will be submitted by the end of 2020, to enable a phased development on the 156-acre site.

The masterplan layout is still being developed, however the site could accommodate logistics buildings up to 1,000,000 sq ft, with roadside uses alongside the A14 frontage, and headquarters office/R&D campus style buildings.

The site can support the growth of creative and technology businesses, a sector which is already important to Mid Suffolk, while also maximising opportunities for inward investment and job creation.

The A14 corridor is one of the principal trunk routes for UK logistics offering access from the Port of Felixstowe into the heart of the UK and it is also a primary route for export to European and world markets. The site is 26 miles from the Port of Felixstowe, 12.5 miles to Ipswich and the A12, and 45 miles to M11 and links to Cambridge.

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Website: https://gateway14.com/
Agents contact details: John Allan – Avison Young John.Allan@avisonyoung.com
Alfred Bartlett – Rapleys – Alfred.Bartlett@rapleys.com

As published in CoStar on 22 April 2020.

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Will Primrose, Senior Surveyor in the Retail & Leisure Group at Rapleys, looks at the rights and obligations.

Recent weeks have seen massive uncertainty across near enough all business sectors as a result of the Coronavirus, and the Government recently announced a further three-week extension to the lockdown. The majority of retail and leisure occupiers are suffering from a complete suspension of trade and many landlords have announced breaks, rent reductions or rent holidays to aid them during this period. Many operators will have questions regarding their rights and obligations during this unprecedented crisis. Will Primrose, Senior Surveyor in the Retail & Leisure Group at Rapleys addresses some of these key questions.

Can a tenant adversely affected by Coronavirus terminate their lease?

Essentially the answer is no – the only exception in this case would likely be if their lease contained a rolling break clause. Commercial leases generally don’t contain force majeure clauses. The only common factor that would change this is if the tenant went into liquidation.

Can a tenant withdraw from an exchanged Agreement for Lease?

This will depend on the provisions and clauses within the Agreement for Lease (AFL). We will likely see Coronavirus Clauses becoming more common within legal documents. Standard force majeure clauses usually refer to events such as terrorist attacks, wars, acts of God and do not apply here. However, we are seeing Pandemic Clauses become more prevalent. A possible reason for a tenant to withdraw would be on a conditional AFL, with the landlord unable to satisfy certain conditions – for instance delivering a scheme before a long stop date due to issues resulting from Covid-19.

Can a tenant withhold rent or pay a reduced amount due to the financial implications of COVID-19?

The simple answer is no, the tenant is not automatically entitled to such benefits. Rent suspension provisions (common in most leases) don’t apply here as they relate to damage to the premises by insured / uninsured risks. However, Landlords are encouraged to be sympathetic during this time. Covid-19 may lead to CVA’s for tenants, which involves negotiation with all of their creditors, including landlords. A rent holiday can mean a number of outcomes and the tenant is unlikely to be fully released from their payment obligation. It is more likely that a negotiation will result in a deferral / repayment programme. It is advised that these are documented by a solicitor.

Can a landlord evict a tenant for non-payment of rent?

We are now seeing these unfortunate issues coming to the press following the March quarter day. The Coronavirus Act 2020 introduced last month banned forfeiture until 30 June 2020 – or longer if the government deems necessary – for non-payment of rent. However, at the time of reporting they do not prevent landlords from taking steps to force tenants to pay rent withheld because of the lockdown and a number have decided to pursue statutory demand notices and Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR). This can be catastrophic for a tenant with little or no income. Whilst many tenants are having open and constructive discussions with their landlords during this difficult, period, others are in danger of receiving statutory demand notices or winding up orders.

Does a tenant have to continue paying Business Rates?

Under a lease the tenant is usually responsible for Business Rates. There have been government initiatives and concessions to assist them, particularly in Retail & Leisure. During a lease, Business Rates are an arrangement between the tenant and Local Authority, not the landlord.

Whose responsibility is it to manage the virus within a let premise?

The tenant, as they will have a covenant within their lease to comply with all acts of parliament, by-laws and regulations; including health and safety of all customers employees and visitors. However, it should be noted of the difference between leases of whole and leases of part. It can get more complicated when common parts are a factor – e.g. within multi-let office buildings and shopping centres.

How are tenants with a Keep Open covenant being affected?

Whilst many leases in the retail sector contain these Keep Open clauses (e.g. shopping centres or with anchor tenants), in ‘normal’ circumstances these are not usually enforced. Courts are typically reluctant to implement Keep Open clauses and you would expect implementation to be even less likely in the current climate – especially with the aforementioned Government protection for tenants affected by COVID-19.

What are some of the Landlord’s obligations in this situation?

A key obligation will be to comply with Government guidelines which will likely fall within their service charge and estates obligations – a situation that has escalated quickly in the last few weeks. In conjunction with Government guidelines, what started as an obligation to provide enhanced hygiene / sanitising products has become full premises closures. Costs for measures such as deep cleaning, hand sanitisers and other items are usually recoverable for the landlord through the service charge.

Any potential risks to a landlord here?

Potentially. In theory the tenant could make a case that the recent closures mean that the landlord would be liable for damages under a lease under derogation from grant – e.g. breach of quiet enjoyment of the premises or loss of profits. Again, if such claims are brought forward, you would imagine the courts would be reluctant to award damages in this climate with the Government’s lockdown and social distancing guidelines as the backdrop.

Summary

As is often the case with landlord and tenant relationships, it is a question of who bears the loss? Whilst a lot of press has been about landlords being sympathetic to tenants, they rely on their rental income for many reasons – to pay borrowings, loans, staff etc. We are now seeing figures published which emphasise the drop in rents that some landlords are receiving and many have as much to be concerned about as tenants. A collaborative approach that focuses more on open discussions and negotiation rather than litigation is going to be key here.

In a move to further the significant Town Planning successes Rapleys has already been delivering in the region, the firm is delighted to welcome to the partnership, from April, its new lead of Town Planning in Cambridge, Richard Sykes-Popham.

Richard, previously of Carter Jonas and Januarys, brings with him a wealth of experience in Cambridge and across the eastern region and enjoys an excellent reputation as a trusted and focused planning advisor.

He joins, the business, as a Partner.

Richard’s background has given him exposure to a broad range of work and to business and team management. In addition to the promotion of planning applications and appeals, Richard has a particular focus on public inquiries, Examinations in Public (EiPs), environmental impact assessment, green belt cases and sustainable urban extensions.

He is able to bring his expertise, to the table, on town planning and wider multidisciplinary instructions: the latter in association with our other service lines in the Cambridge office, including development consultancy.

On his move to Rapleys Richard commented: “I am delighted to be at Rapleys. In the process of joining I have been able to get a good measure of their ethos and values, which have the firm’s clients and its people at their centre. The culture of the practice coupled with its excellent fundamentals make it an extremely exciting business to be part of. My focus will be on getting our planning services to clients and to ensure that we add value in the pursuit of future instructions and commissions.”

Rapleys’ Senior Partner, Robert Clarke, adds “I am delighted to welcome Richard to the partnership. He is a significant appointment in the growth of the Cambridge office. He brings a wealth of local, and national, experience to the business: to the benefit of our client base. I have no doubt that, under his leadership, the town planning team, in Cambridge, will become an important player in the city, its hinterland and wider region”.

As published in Property Week on 7 April 2020.

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As part of the UK government’s response to Covid-19, Boris Johnson announced the closure of all pubs, restaurants, cafes and leisure facilities, with the closure of retail units following shortly afterwards.

The exception to the rule is a relatively small number of essential services such as supermarkets and other food shops, pharmacies, post offices and petrol stations.

To assist in supporting businesses through the coronavirus outbreak, the government has temporarily relaxed planning legislation to allow pubs, restaurants and cafes to speedily implement a change of use and operate temporarily as food takeaways.

Hot food takeaways operate in a different land use to pubs, restaurants and cafes, and would ordinarily require the submission of a planning application to the local authority. An over-concentration of hot food takeaways is commonly resisted by many local authorities owing to their perceived impacts on residential amenity, including noise, odours and loitering, as well as more general concerns relating to public health. However, in light of lockdown restrictions, limited food supplies and the closure of many businesses, the need for takeaways and food deliveries is more essential than ever and they are in incredibly high demand.

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order is a statutory instrument permitting certain types of development without the need for planning permission, including both physical development and changes of land use. To enable pubs (use class A4), restaurants and cafes (use class A3) to operate for the provision of takeaway food, amendments to the order were laid before parliament on 23rd March 2020 and came into force the following day.

The provision of takeaway food is interpreted as: “any use for any purpose within class A5 of the schedule to the use classes order, and any use for the provision of hot or cold food that has been prepared for consumers for collection or delivery to be consumed, reheated or cooked by consumers off the premises.”

The change of use can be brought into force any time between 24 March 2020 and 23 March 2021 and is subject to the following conditions:

  • The developer must notify the local planning authority that the land is being used for the provision of takeaway food during the period;
  • The use of the land for the provision of takeaway food does not affect the use class for the purposes of the use class order – in other words, the original land use is retained even during use of the permitted development right;
  • The use of the building and its land will revert to its previous lawful use at the end of the relevant period, or earlier if the temporary use ceases before 23 March 2021.

Those wishing to benefit from the amended legislation must therefore notify the local planning authority to ensure the temporary use is lawful, and must be aware that any physical changes associated with the temporary use are likely to still require planning permission (for example, the installation of an external flue).

Jason Lowes is a partner and Olivia St-Amour an associate at planning and property consultancy Rapleys.

 

As published in Forecourt Trader on 18 March 2020.


Rates relief announced in last week’s Budget could be worth £40m for the forecourt sector, according to property and planning consultancy Rapleys.

It also suggested that forecourts may benefit from some of the new £500m funding to support development of rapid chargers.

Stacey Jolly, surveying technician in the ratings team at Rapleys, said: “Rapleys’ rating team welcomes the recent budget announcement and have calculated that approximately 38% of petrol stations (circa 3,200 across England and Wales) will benefit from the 100% retail relief announced by the chancellor in his budget on the 10 March.

“The announcement, which affects the financial year 2020/21, covers any petrol station with a rateable value of £51,000 or less and means that they will receive a full relief on their rates payable. Having investigated the potential rates liability of all the sites, those affected could benefit from a total saving of up to £40m pounds for the financial year 2020/21.”

Mark Frostick, senior associate in the automotive and roadside team at Rapleys, commented: “This comes as good news in a time of uncertainty. Although fuel prices are slowly coming down, this sector will be hit hard with the panic the country is facing over the Covid-19 outbreak and the potential self-isolation of many people.

“In addition to the rating relief the government also announced £500m towards rapid charging hubs for electric vehicles. It may well be that some of the very petrol stations that are getting rates relief will also benefit from the investment from grants to provide a charging point.”


As of 19 March, Stacy adds ‘with the ever changing announcements being made by Government in the last few days, this has now been extended to all retailers regardless of the level of rateable Value. Therefore, all retail properties will get 100% relief from 01 April 2020.’

In February the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) called for Britain’s biggest supermarket chains to review thousands of land agreements and prove they are lawful. This came to light after the CMA openly wrote to Tesco Chief Executive calling the retailer out on unlawfully preventing landlords from letting properties to its rivals at 23 sites across the UK.

We asked Richard Curry, our food retail expert, for his opinion, specifically asking how permeated is this practice in the industry and do you predict more agreements of this nature will be uncovered? He commented:

The CMA’s ruling will come as no surprise to anyone who has observed the food retail market over the years, as restriction covenants have been a known feature of supermarkets’ strategies for decades.

In the period prior to the rise of discounters and ecommerce, when the race for space still dominated the food retail sector, supermarket operators would often purchase an old industrial site, occupy one of the smaller lots, with a view to establishing a larger-format store in one of the other lots once trading had increased. Restrictive covenants were a crucial part of this strategy. In order to prevent loss of trade to competitors in the meantime, they would sell the other lots with a restriction of use clause, ensuring the subsequent owners could not sell on to another food retailer.

Even when the race for space ended, the covenants continued to protect retailers from loss of trade to competitors and were waiting patiently for another bullish market when rollout of larger stores was back on the agenda.

Restrictive covenants do have their uses – if a food retailer takes a gamble by investing in a new location, such as within a new urban extension or trading estate, they should be able to benefit from their initial financial commitment to an unestablished trading location without competitors coming along and building next door as soon as trade increases.

However, most convenience stores should be up to maturity within five years so they should not need protection further than that. It may even be the case that a food retail store enjoying an unrivalled position on a retail park by for over five years by virtue of a covenant, could have been overtrading, as their levels of traffic were being artificially raised by covenants now deemed unlawful.

In 2010 the CMA limited the length of restrictive covenants to 5 years, after which food retailers must allow competitors to occupy nearby locations. The fact that the CMA claims 20 different agreements by Tesco violated this rule could be seen as evidence of the high-risk strategy the retailer has taken when choosing new locations.

Another point to consider is that the terms of restrictive clauses only prevent nearby spaces being occupied by major competitors, which essentially comprises the other members of the big four food retailers. Up-market food stores such as Waitrose or M&S, and more significantly the discount food retailers such as Aldi or Lidl, were permitted to establish, with the latter taking full advantage. Restrictive covenants may therefore have been one of the factors contributing to the dramatic expansion of discount food retailers in recent years.

The smart money would say that this ruling will not necessarily result in any significant increase in the number of store openings in the retail sector, as this is tied to many other factors, not least the general health of the sector and its main actors, some of which are actively downsizing. However, if the market picks up, and space once again becomes a priority, this ruling could open-up new opportunities for expansion.

It has not generally been possible to assess just how significant an impact restrictive covenants have had on the marketability of key retail sites. That is until now. With the release of these spaces from extended covenants, their performance on the market should indicate just how much of a lead weight these kinds of clauses have been.


Further expert commentary alongside Richard’s can be found in this article from Property Week, published on 28 February 2020.

Rapleys are pleased to confirm that our Building Consultancy Group have been shortlisted for the Property Awards 2020. The Building Consultancy Group, headed by Justin Tuckwell, are shortlisted alongside Hollis, Savills, Knight Frank, Shoosmiths, Aitchison Raffety and others, for Professional Team of the Year.

After a period of significant growth, driven by the team’s pioneering approach to the specialist services delivered, we are grateful for the recognition by the prestigious Property Awards and look forward to celebrating in the success of all come April.

Justin Tuckwell comments; ‘To have a niche building consultancy division leading the way in terms of revenue, profit, client and staff growth in a national multi-disciplinary business is unique. Reaching the shortlist of Professional Team of the Year further confirms our forward-thinking position within the business and industry. It is testament to the hard work and dedication of the whole team and I am very grateful for all their efforts throughout this incredible time for us.’

Click here for the full details of all the award categories and nominations.

Godwin Developments have purchased a former Pizza Hut site on Baths Road, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, close to the town centre.

Jonathan Jones, Retail & Leisure surveyor here at Rapleys said: ‘I am delighted to have identified and acquired this prominent site on behalf of Godwin which has clear potential for drive-thru /quick service restaurants uses. Early conversations have indicated there is strong demand for out of town location and as such I am looking forward to promoting the site when it goes live!’

Stuart Pratt, group development director at Godwin, said ‘I am pleased with the speed in which we have completed this site purchase.’

The full press release from Godwin Group can also be viewed at Insider Media Limited and Commercial News.

 

With Ikea revealing plans to close its Coventry store in the summer, its first big closure in the UK, Russell Smith reflects on the current state of the retail market and how property strategies need to adapt in line with evolving consumer demands.

The retail market is undergoing fundamental disruption and Ikea’s Coventry store is, sadly, just the latest casualty. It probably won’t be the last, as retailers and landlords seek to rebalance their strategies and property portfolios in line with changing shopping patterns.

Larger format stores are being scrutinised closely, and we’re seeing real efforts made to try and subdivide space to ensure that every square foot is maximised – importantly that’s just not about range of product, it’s about diversity of experience and generating footfall and dwell time. Ikea aren’t alone, the same is true of the big department and DIY stores – some of which have had to go down the route of a CVA are even administration – who are rationalising their property portfolios in response to poor sales.

Retailers have learned, the hard way in some cases, that bigger is not always better when it comes to store format. Many large store concepts really struggle with design, accessibility and connectivity with the wider location and footfall. Ikea Coventry demonstrates not just the need to respond to the change in customer profile, but also the need for quality design thinking to make the most of location and footprint.

Ikea’s setback in Coventry is as much to do with location as anything else, but the retailer has made some strides overall. In Ikea’s case, the core product is flat pack furniture and, in reality, people either want to buy it online and have it delivered, or they want to go – or have to go – to an out of town fulfilment centre to collect in a car or van. Formats and locations that fall between these two poles are the ones that are going to be at risk. Ikea are therefore looking at smaller showroom format stores in affluent locations and with high footfall – such as Bromley or Hammersmith – or larger stores close to motorways or in accessible out of town sites.

Put simply, retailers have to understand that the way consumers want to buy their products has changed, and property decisions need to be made firmly in that context.

 

Ken Brown Motor Group have opened a new Hyundai dealership in Letchworth Garden City.  The deal involved a new 10 year lease on the 0.78 acre site in Icknield Way, with the previous tenant surrendering an existing lease and withdrawing from the town.  Rapleys Automotive and Roadside team brokered the deal on behalf of the landlord, Fevore Limited.

Richard Forman of Fevore said: ‘We are delighted that Rapleys were able to secure continuing long term occupation of the property in a tricky market and without a rental void. The deal really was a ‘win win win’ allowing Progress to exit and Ken Brown to step in while also enhancing our asset’.

Geoff Sayer, partner at Rapleys said: ‘This demonstrates that opportunities exist in the current market for brands to invest in new and affluent territories’.

Jon Taylor, Managing Director of KBMG, said: ‘We are delighted to have this opportunity to expand with Hyundai and look forward to growing our business in Letchworth and beyond with this exciting new brand for the town’.


As featured in Automotive Management Online on 16 January 2020.

Rapleys’ property and planning consultancy continues to show the ongoing growth of its business by announcing this week that the Cambridge team will relocate to larger premises, and therefore increase their profile, just nine months after opening in the city.

Remaining in the CB1 business district was of upmost importance to Rapleys and its new and existing client base. The practice has taken a private office at 50-60 Station Road; a modern, high quality environment, next to the station.

The new office will house, amongst other teams, the practices’ Town Planning, Development, Building Consultancy, Business Space and Automotive & Roadside departments.

Stuart Harris, Head of Cambridge Office comments: “Whilst Rapleys’ arrival in Cambridge was far from any ‘cold start’ with our long standing presence in the county, we have been delighted by the traction gained in our opening months in the city. This has necessitated a fairly rapid expansion of both the size and quality of space available to us.”

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner, adds: “I am very pleased with the new office at Station Road and look forward to welcoming our clients to the innovative space. Our move is a direct response to client needs. We are excited by the future prospects in Cambridge and the wider region.”


Full contact details for the Rapleys Cambridge office:

50/60 Station Road, Cambridge CB1 2FB
0370 777 6292 |  info@rapleys.com


Featured in Commercial News.

 

The former Renault/Hyundai dealership on Hilton Road in Ashford, Kent, has been sold to Dunmore Ltd to be split up into three trade counter units.

Motorline placed the property on the market with Rapleys’ specialist Automotive & Roadside team, in advance of their relocation of the brands to a new site on Orbital Park elsewhere in Ashford.

The property was a dual branded dealership of nearly 17,000 sq ft on a site of 0.86 acres, with two glazed showrooms, offices and dedicated workshop facilities.

Mark Frostick of Rapleys commented; ‘we had interest from a variety of occupiers and users and we were able to tie up a purchase to coincide with our client’s relocation to their fantastic new premises elsewhere in the town. It was also somewhat of a homecoming deal for myself in that 20 years ago my first surveying job as a graduate was with Colyer Commercial in  the town.’

As reported in AM Online where Motorline’s latest openings in the area are summarised.

Rapleys Automotive and Roadside team were pleased to complete a deal on a former car showroom on Regents Park Road, North London. The 4,030 sq ft premise had a prominent frontage to the busy road and attracted significant interest from trade, retail and leisure operators which resulted in competitive bidding in excess of the quoting rent.

Toolstation were successful and secured a 10 year lease with V8 Properties Ltd. The unit is one of the first of a new retail format being rolled out by Toolstation within London. Planning consent for A1 was refused previously but after successful appeal it was overturned and the unit has now been refurbished to Toolstation brand standards.

Rapleys client Daniel Sayers of V8 Properties Limited, comments: ‘As a small family owned property business we are delighted that Rapleys have been able to secure excellent terms for the letting of our former car showroom, enabling its modernisation and long term occupation by a well-known national operator, thus safeguarding and significantly enhancing the value of our asset.

Geoff Sayer and his colleagues at Rapleys steered us expertly through a successful marketing campaign, a contentious dilapidations dispute and a tortuous planning process, aided by an enthusiastic tenant in Toolstation Limited.

Rapleys were able to advise us on marketing, rental value, dilapidations, business rates, planning and project management ultimately leading to a better deal than we had hoped for and enabling us to make significant savings along the way.

The constructive partnership of Geoff and his colleagues with us as the client and also with our tenant enabled this project to succeed (even when at times it seemed unlikely) and we are very grateful for that.’

Rapleys has made several new appointments across the business over the summer months, collectively strengthening our service offering, and representing the ongoing growth of the practice.

  • Campbell Moffat (Senior Associate, Corporate Investor Management)
  • Laura Briggs (Senior Surveyor, Corporate Investor Management)
  • Jamie Alderson (Planner, Town Planning)
  • Harriet Nind (Planner, Town Planning)
  • Marcus Fatoye (Surveyor, Corporate Investor Management)
  • Callum Dickinson (Graduate Surveyor, Automotive & Roadside)
  • Oliver Exton (Graduate Surveyor, Automotive & Roadside)
  • Bradley Wild-Smith (Accounts Assistant)
  • Stacey Collarbon (Property Accounts Assistant, Corporate Investor Management)
  • Ben Godfrey (Data Analyst, Corporate Investor Management)
  • Serena Ridley (Client Accountant, Corporate Investor Management)
  • Stephen Wilde (Client Accountant, Corporate Investor Management)
  • Shanice Redmond (QHSE/Data Management Assistant)
  • Emma Bailey (PA to Head of Building Consultancy Group)

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner, comments; ‘I am delighted to welcome our new recruits and look forward to working with them to serve our clients’ needs in the future.’

Rapleys, the planning and property consultancy, has said the automotive retail industry is taking a “wait and see” approach on investment in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.

While there are some franchises that will mandate a certain level of infrastructure and charging points based on their corporate identity, Mark Frostick, Rapleys senior associate roadside and automotive, told AM: “Investment in EV infrastructure is generally not on a lot of people’s radar from a property perspective right now.

“Everyone is looking at how technology is changing and doesn’t want to be caught investing in the wrong thing or to the wrong level.

“There are a lot of groups waiting to see what is happening before making that investment decision.”

For more from Mark Frostick and Peter Nicholas click through to the full article on AM Online.

Today’s statistical analysis from the ONS makes interesting reading. There was somewhat of a furore about a year ago when the ONS published – for the first time having taken over the statistical responsibility from MHCLG – the 2016-based Household Projection figures. These updated figures were interpreted by many to mean that fewer homes needed to be built than was previously thought. In particular, those arguing for lower levels of housebuilding saw the numbers as justification to scale back housing plans.

However, this approach risked undermining the government’s pledge to prioritise housebuilding and the overall national target of 300,000 new homes built every year. As a result, Government quickly stated that when calculating housing need, the previous2014-based Household Projections should be used. The primacy of the 2014-based figures was re-confirmed inupdates to the Planning Practice Guidance earlier in the year.

Given that today’s analysis concludes that the difference between the 2014 and 2016 figures were as a result of methodological improvements informing the latter, the issue looks likely to be a continued bone of contention between Local Authorities, developers and the government. Notwithstanding this, at least for now the 2014-based figures look likely to be the first port of call for the majority of base-line housing need calculations.

As featured in Planning Resource.

Rapleys’ Building Consultancy Group is pleased to introduce the most recent Associates’ to join the team.

Adam Reed, Bristol

Adam is a commercially driven chartered Building Surveyor who joins the team with a wealth of experience across a broad spectrum of building surveying services. Having a strong working knowledge of the regional market, and notably being a member of the BCO NextGen Committee for the South West region, will prove invaluable for the Bristol service line within the national Building Consultancy Group.

Adam is adept at providing the full range of commercial building surveyor services to clients including; technical due diligence, dilapidations, contract administration and CDM advisory. Recent projects have included CAT A office refurbishment and industrial contract administration. Each project has been approached professionally and client relationship management always prioritised, ultimately providing reasoned commercial advice and added value to each project.

Adam comments: ‘I am looking forward to getting involved in the wide-ranging projects and services that the whole Building Consultancy Group delivers at a national and regional level. My move to Rapleys comes as they go from strength to strength in the market and I am confident I can add further to the growth of the team and services.’

Jack Downing, Birmingham

Jack joins the Land Development Project Management service line within the Building Consultancy Group. This move follows experience leading the design and delivery of primary infrastructure on a range of mixed use developments nationally.

Bringing over ten years’ experience in infrastructure engineering, Jack is a qualified member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and has managed numerous land development and building schemes. With a strong track record in value led and outcome based design, Jack has a keen eye for delivery strategy whilst keeping a firm grip on the detail to ensure risks are managed and opportunities are realised.

Jack comments: ‘I am exciting to join the team and I feel there is a significant opportunity to build and expand our offering to clients. I am very much looking forward to playing a key role in residential and mixed use development sites and making use of Rapleys’ full range of property services. Delivering a client focused service has always been at the heart of my approach. I do this by investing the time to understand the client’s key drivers so I can ensure these are achieved and I will continue this as I progress here.’

Justin Tuckwell, Head of Building Consultancy, comments: ‘I am delighted to welcome both Adam and Jack to Rapleys. Their talent and skillsets were carefully considered to enable a continued, and improved, service to our clients. I am excited to support their careers and develop their skills. I am confident that with their combined experience and proven service delivery our position will be further strengthened in the market as the Building Consultancy Group continues to expand.’

 

Rapleys are proud to announce a 4 year framework with Coventry City Council. The commission is to provide maintenance and condition surveys, project surveying and design work across a wide range of corporate and educational buildings within the Coventry City boundary.

As part of Coventry City Council’s 10 year business plan, Coventry City Council have set out their priorities and vision for the future of the city. The Council are committed to attracting new businesses, improving the standards of educational facilities and ultimately helping the people of Coventry deliver effective and worthwhile community services, such as libraries and youth services. Each initiative will have clear direction and innovative ideas at the core of their models.

Rapleys role in achieving this for the city is twofold. The first part of the commission includes maintenance and condition surveys of necessary buildings and will commence with a batch of pilot surveys in the area. The second lot includes surveying and engineering projects.

The project is due to be completed by September 2020, with an option to extend for a further 2 years. For Rapleys the commission is set to deliver approximately £100k of consultancy fees each year, for the four years. This is in line with the Council’s budget and will ensure value is retained in their commitment to creating a sustainable future.

This commission coincides seamlessly with the Building Consultancy Groups expansion and the win is critical for the team as a whole to shape a very exciting future, especially for the Birmingham based members of the team who will tackle this instruction head on. Justin Tuckwell, Head of Rapleys Building Consultancy Group comments; ‘From our business development perspective, starting such a varied and large project will provide invaluable experience to our graduate surveyors in the team as well as further enhancing the portfolios of our more experienced surveyors. The Councils ambitions align with ours and we are confident of a long and prosperous collaboration.’

The commission win is part of a strategic plan that Rapleys have developed to grow and develop public sector client portfolios, sharing the best practices that they already provide to private sector clients.

As featured on Insider Magazine – click here. 

Rapleys are pleased to confirm a number of promotions across the business this month:

Senior Associate

Guy Davies – Building Consultancy Group, London
Rebecca Harper – Investment, London

Associate

Josie Hayes – Building Consultancy Group, Birmingham
Chloe Ballantine – Town Planning, London

Senior Planner

Conor Healy – Town Planning, London

Senior Surveyor

Charles Alexander – Development Services Group, London

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner, adds: ‘It is a great pleasure to announce these promotions. They are well-deserved. I look forward to their ongoing contribution to the business and, more particularly, our valued client base.’

 

As featured in various publications. CoStar – click here.Commercial News – click here.

Upcoming petrol retailer group RBK Services has acquired the former Co-Op petrol station in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, and plans to re-open the site.

Rapleys were appointed by Central England Co-Op to market their site once they had let their former superstore in Ramsey to Poundstretcher.

“Despite the site being closed, we had strong interest in the location and competitive bidding before finalising a deal,” said Mark Frostick, Senior Associate of Rapleys Automotive & Roadside team. “Operators are still seeing a lack of supply in the market and we continue to be able to market well-priced sites across the country and price ranges. It’s also great to see another site re-open.”

Ratnasingam “Bala” Balakrishnan, the MD of RBK Services Ltd, commented: “I have some major plans for the site once it has re-opened and rebranding and redecoration will soon have the site back to historic trading levels. The following services will be available to the public: a filling station with off licence, tyre centre and a hand car wash, as well as weekend cut price fuel and gas oil available at a reduced price for a limited time.”

Featured in Commercial News – click here. 
Featured in Forecourt Traderclick here.

Rapleys’ Building Consultancy Group has appointed 7 surveyors to its team across the network. The new members will be based in Bristol, Birmingham, London and Manchester to further establish the group’s geographical coverage, as well as increasing the range of technical expertise. The new posts will support the delivery of comprehensive, consistent and excellent service levels to all new and existing clients.

Supporting the service line in Bristol, Adam Reed joins as an Associate. Adam will work alongside Partner Simon Harbour to support and grow the South West client base. Adam has significant experience across the building surveying core services offered. Martin Hunt, Graduate Surveyor, also joins the Bristol team and will be supporting Dan Tapscott, Partner, in the Neighbourly Matters team which delivers services nationally.

Rapleys’ Midlands provision is boosted with Associate Jack Downing joining the specialist land development project management team and bringing with him a wealth of experience in infrastructure and development engineering. In addition Jordon Fearon has joined as graduate to support Josie Hayes in the building surveying team as the property market in the second city continues on its impressive growth trajectory.

Meanwhile, Mark Noon and Dan Heath, Graduate Surveyors join to assist the fast growing London building surveying team on all projects including building surveys, defect analysis, party wall issues, schedules of condition and other core services.

Finally Ed Hill has joined the Manchester team as Graduate Surveyor for additional support in our core building surveying offering to the North West client base.

Justin Tuckwell, Head of Rapleys’ Building Consultancy Group, commented“Being able to grow our team by this substantial number demonstrates our successful delivery of services with previous and current clients, as well as being testament to the buoyancy of the property market across the UK. All appointments have been made carefully to ensure the team comprises of talented and supportive members who work cohesively to deliver Rapleys’ high standards. I am excited to nurture the progression of the Building Consultancy Group as a whole as we penetrate and establish ourselves further within this competitive industry.”

Rapleys’ Neighbourly Matters team have been extensively involved in a mixed use redevelopment of a former brewery site in South Bristol.

The development, which was granted planning permission last week, comprises a residential led scheme of 94 new homes, with apartments arranged in two blocks of 7 and 8 storeys. With 2,000 sq m of co-working and commercial space also being provided on the site of the former Ashton Gate Brewery and Thomas Baynton’s Brewery with a number of the original buildings retained and refurbished.

Rapleys have been onboard since the early stages advising on Daylight & Sunlight Amenity, carrying out several analyses on a variety of neighbouring properties. Rapleys have also engaged early on in the design process, advising on Party Wall matters and will shortly be serving notices on the relevant adjoining properties for the demolition and construction phases.

The Old Brewery MCC LLP is a joint venture between Change Real Estate and Cannon Family Office.

Dan Tapscott, Partner, Head of Neighbourly Matters, comments: ‘This development has been a pleasure to get involved with; a variety of building types on a brownfield site with circa 35 neighbouring properties to consider is just the type of challenge our national Neighbourly Matters team are geared up for. The clients approach in enabling early engagement across the project team will ensure the effective delivery of the scheme.’

Commercial property and planning consultancy Rapleys has advised Lookers PLC on the development of its new £10m dealership located on York Road, Battersea.

The 90,000 sq ft Volskwagen dealership forms part of a multi-million pound mixed-use joint venture between Lookers and Linden Homes. The state of the art dealership comprises the first three floors of the development, including significant amenity and customer experience space as well as a state-of-the-art automotive services department.

The multi discipline Rapleys team, led by partner Angus Irvine, brought together experts from across the firm’s Development, Planning, Investment and Building Consultancy practices to work with Lookers to maximise the significant land value of the site.

Principally this included a full planning and feasibility study, resulting in the unlocking of air rights to facilitate a multi-storey, mixed-use development comprising both the car dealership and a residential scheme. Rapleys identified and secured Linden Homes as the joint venture partner for the project, subsequently securing planning permission for the full commercial and residential scheme, to include 174 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, both private and affordable, across the fifteen storey, four tower development.

Rapleys also advised Lookers on relocating the existing dealership to an alternative site while works were being undertaken, to minimise any disruption to the day-to-day business.

Angus Irvine, Partner and head of Development, commented: “As competition for land, particularly in urban conurbations, increases, it is critical that investors and developers have a creative approach to maximising the value of their assets. Frequently this means changing or expanding uses and more often than not, building up rather than out. Lookers’ new dealership is a terrific example of this; maintaining and enhancing commercial operations while delivering much needed private and affordable housing in the heart of London courtesy of JV partner Linden Homes.”

Rapleys’ property and planning consultancy continue to deliver on their ambitious business development plan with the announcement of the latest office move for the Edinburgh team.

The team moves to Rutland Square this week, after a decision was taken not to renew the lease in Caledonian Exchange. The move provides Rapleys with superior accommodation that better suits their needs as well as a growing client base. By stepping over into EH1, Rapleys are at the centre of the commercial property market in the city and ultimately their valued clients will benefit from this accessible and vibrant location.

The key service lines offered from this hub are Town Planning, Corporate & Investor Management, Business Space, Retail & Leisure and Automotive & Roadside. With local knowledge and national insight from the wider network of offices the professional teams provide comprehensive property and planning solutions on a value-added basis consistently.

Colin Steele, Partner and head of the Edinburgh office, comments: “this move comes at a great time as we continue to expand the team and service lines available here from our Edinburgh hub. On a wider practice level, the last 12 months have seen many of our regional offices move up and on to better spaces, improving the environment for the benefit of colleagues and clients alike. It is great to align ourselves to the overall business development plan and we will continue to offer the excellent, local services that our clients value us for, from this new location.”

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner adds: “I am delighted with the new office space at Rutland Square. It is a recognised and established business address in the heart of the city. Needless to say, we look forward to welcoming clients to, and advising from, our new home in Edinburgh.”

Full contact details for Rapleys Edinburgh

8A Rutland Square
Edinburgh EH1 2AS

0370 777 6292
info@rapleys.com

Property and planning consultancy Rapleys announces the launch of a new office in Cambridge. The new office is Rapleys’ second in Cambridgeshire, with the firm being founded in Huntingdon and maintaining a strong presence and heritage in region since 1951.

The Cambridge office consists of both professional advisory and transactional teams from across Rapleys’ service lines, delivering a joined-up, multi-disciplinary offering to clients in the region. Each team consists of professionals who live and work in the city, with strong established relationships across Cambridge’s range of complementary consultancy services.

Stuart Harris has been appointed Head of the Cambridge office, and joins Rapleys with more than 30 years’ experience working in the industry and region, including roles with Strutt & Parker and Carter Jonas.

Stuart, alongside the existing partnership, will be responsible for promoting and coordinating the delivery of the firm’s core property consultancy and town planning services in the city, including: Town Planning, Building Consultancy, Development, Affordable Housing & Viability, Commercial Agency, Landlord & Tenant and Investment.

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner at Rapleys, commented: “Our new Cambridge office, alongside the appointment of Stuart, represents a key further stage in Rapleys’ evolution, which builds on our long-established heritage, presence and reputation in the region going back to the founding of the firm in Huntingdon in 1951. We saw a real opportunity in Cambridge, which is undergoing substantial growth, and a market opening where we can bring in services – such as Affordable Housing and Viability, Strategic Land, Building Consultancy and Town Planning – which are currently underrepresented in the region or are subject to increasing demand. At the same time, our expanded footprint and capacity in the region further complements our national expansion programme – providing clients access to partner-led teams with both local expertise and UK-wide reach.”

Stuart Harris, Head of the Cambridge Office at Rapleys, added: “Principally I am delighted to join Rapleys at this exciting juncture. There are significant opportunities in Cambridge, which is rapidly increasing in commercial importance and is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK. This looks set to continue – not least driven by the wider strategic plan for the region including the Cambridge-Oxford arc and expressway – and we are seeing an increasing demand particularly for planning and consulting services from businesses seeking to capitalise on this growth. I look forward to working with the wider Rapleys team to help clients seize these opportunities.”

Rapleys’ Cambridge team can be contacted at 20 Station Road, Cambridge CB1 2JD / 0370 777 6292.

A new Burger King which has opened at Godwin Developments’ Brampton Hut Services on the A14 near Huntingdon has already created 14 new jobs with the team expected to grow to 25 during peak trading.

Now the focus is on two further turnkey units to let on the site which will create even more jobs at the busy A1 and A14 routes.

Jason Doe, area manager at EuroGarages, who are the lead tenant on site, said: “Brampton Hut Burger King represents a fantastic opportunity for a progressive, forward thinking and rapidly expanding organisation such as the EuroGarages to bring a high-profile quick service offering to what promises to be one of the foremost roadside services currently under development in the UK.

“We very much look forward to growing our team and customer base both here and further afield.”

Letting agents were Rapleys who specialise in the retail, leisure and roadside markets.

Jonathan Jones, surveyor at Rapleys said: “Rapleys are delighted to have acted on behalf of the Godwin Group in the letting to EuroGarages trading as Burger King at Brampton Hut Services.

“The excellent traffic of the A1 and A14 combined with the critical mass of food and beverage occupiers has established Brampton Hut Services as a strong ‘Food to Go’ destination and as such Burger King will undoubtedly trade well here.

“There are now only two turnkey units available to let, one of which benefits from a drive-thru lane, and leasing enquires in the roadside market are encouraged for this rarely available opportunity,” he said.

Ketan Patel, development manager at Godwin Developments, said: “This site now offers a Greggs, Subway, Starbucks and Burger King with close amenities to a large BP Connect filling station and truck park, with a Brewers Fayre restaurant, Premier Inn Hotel close by.

“It is clearly a magnet for motorists looking to take a break and top up at this busy A14 and A1 interchange, and so the remaining two units to let provide an excellent opportunity for food outlets that are complementary to the existing local provision and add value and consumer choice.”

Godwin Development update – click here. 

Rapleys has secured outline planning permission for 1,100 new homes at the former British Sugar factory site in York, following a Public Inquiry held in January 2018.

The 98 acre site, one of the largest brownfield sites in the City, is owned by Associated British Foods (ABF), who have been working with the City of York Council (in the context of appeal proceedings) and the local community to achieve the sustainable regeneration of the redundant site since its closure.

The approved masterplan provides new family homes, a primary school, two nursery schools, a multi-use community and sports hall, and over 22 acres of new public open space. In addition over £4 million of funding will be contributed towards infrastructure improvements, including highways works, sports and community facilities and secondary education provision in the local area.

The key matter addressed at the Public Inquiry was the provision of affordable housing. The Secretary of State agreed with the evidence put forward by the landowner, which demonstrated that given the significant remediation costs associated with the regeneration of the site, it was appropriate to accept a viable level of affordable housing in the first phase, with additional affordable housing at each subsequent phase of development to be provided based on a staged viability reassessment process.

Rapleys acted as lead Planning Consultant, as well as providing specialist advice on viability, affordable housing and Environmental Impact Assessment. Rapleys is delighted to have secured outline planning permission on behalf of ABF, and will continue to advise on the implementation of the regeneration scheme, which will provide much needed new housing and leave a positive legacy for British Sugar in the City of York.

Rapleys is delighted to announce that real estate investment company Aprirose has sold the former Volkswagen dealership on Edgware Road to Jemca.

The 19,859 sq ft site was originally marketed to let, but after being inundated with bids and following an offer from Jemca, Aprirose chose to move forward with the sale. The location of the site was a big draw for potential buyers with the property situated in a prominent position amongst other big-name retailers.

Heading up the deal was Rapleys Automotive and Roadside Partner Daniel Cook and Paul Taylor from Latitude Real Estate advised Jemca.

Daniel commented that the circumstances surrounding the sale “demonstrate clearly the difficulty car dealers are having in finding suitable premises as they now have to compete with not only potentially higher value uses, but also the investment market in order to locate to an appropriate site.”

Published in MotorTrader.com

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. 

Godwin Developments has announced the first two occupiers, secured by Rapleys Retail & Leisure agency team, on its Pineham neighbourhood retail site in Northampton.

The Midcounties Co-operative and Blossom Tree Day Nursery will be the first two tenants on the development.

Godwin Developments acquired the 1.1 acre site from Taylor Wimpey Homes and is building 12,600 sq ft of retail and nursery space.

Co-op has taken 4,000 sq ft and Blossom Tree Day Nursery will move into the slightly larger unit of 4,550 sq ft. Other units on the site are still available and continue to be marketed by Rapleys, cick here for the marketing brochure.

Stuart Pratt, group development director and co-founder of Godwin Developments, said: “We are delighted to have secured Co-op and Blossom Tree Day nurseries as the first two tenants for the Pineham Neighbourhood centre.

“The overall development has now provided over 600 new homes as well as a new primary school opposite our site. We now have only two remaining retail units totalling 2,500 sq ft and one D2 use class unit available.”

Alfred Bartlett, head of retail and leisure at Rapleys, said: “We are extremely pleased to have effected these key lettings and that Co-op and Blossom Tree Day Nurseries as anchor tenants, have been able to envisage the strategic benefits of the Pineham Neighbourhood centre, which not only serves the new primary school development and over 600 houses coming on stream but the existing Pineham village also as well as the adjoining Prologis Park and the wider distribution and business development just off junction 15A M1.

“The remaining units provide great opportunities for complementary retail, café or food to go operators.”

Source: Godwin Developments

“Aberdeen Standard Investments has announced that it has exchanged contracts with Explore Learning, leasing a new unit at Two Rivers Shopping Centre Staines-Upon-Thames – an outdoor hybrid retail, leisure and lifestyle scheme.

Explore Learning’s Richard Curry, of Property and Planning Consultancy firm Rapleys, has worked alongside Two River’s Letting Agency – Lunson Mitchenall to secure Explore Learning with a new 1,443 sq ft unit, bringing a complementary community use into Two Rivers Shopping Centre.

The retailer has agreed the terms on the lease, and will open the educational tuition centre in autumn/winter 2018. The acquisition further enhances the portfolio of Explore learning who now have 140 centres throughout the UK and are actively looking to continue their expansion.

Since 2001, Explore Learning has helped over 200,000 children excel academically and reach their potential with dedicated tutors always on hand to encourage, explain and ensure children progress. The popular learning centre aims to inspire fearless learners: whether it’s getting ready to start a new school, meeting a new teacher or making friends.”

Explore Learning still have active requirements at several other locations, contact Richard Curry with any suitable opportunities. Full details available here.

Rapleys is delighted to welcome several new faces this month, including three new partners to the business – Simon Matley, Will Maby and Adam de Acetis.

Simon Matley joins the Manchester office working within the Building Consultancy & Project Management team and brings a wealth of experience across all services within the sector. Combining experience and innovative approaches Simon is sure to assist in further expanding the services of the team over the North West and far beyond. Simon commented: “I am very much looking forward to working for a company focused on consultancy services and delivering a more independent interdisciplinary approach to clients. Together with my experience in the North West and Manchester markets I am excited to apply a national approach to business development giving the clients the consistent approach to service that is at the heart of the Rapleys ethos. Exciting times ahead!”

Will Maby joins the Viability & Affordable Housing department, which is a service increasingly in demand at Rapleys, to support Nick Fell and the wider team. The specialist experience Will has garnered during his career to date will be invaluable to Rapleys’ clients, focusing on strategic valuation advice to private developers as well as registered providers. Will adds; “I am delighted to have joined Rapleys in what is an exciting period of growth for the business. I am very much looking forward to contributing to the further expansion of the Viability & Affordable Housing team.”

Also joining the business, Adam de Acetis brings unrivalled asset and property management experience to the Corporate & Investor Management team based in London. Adam will identify and execute added value opportunities for Rapleys existing clients, whilst providing senior resource to generate and support the growth of the client base. Adam comments: “Rapleys are at an exciting stage with their positioning in the market place. They have an excellent platform and superb people and I look forward to being involved in the next phase of Rapleys progression”.

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner, added:I am delighted to welcome Simon, Will and Adam to the business. They are proven professionals and will, undoubtedly, add value to our client base, whilst further extending our service lines across the UK. Their appointments underscore the ongoing growth, and reach, of Rapleys.”

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.

Following the release of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) earlier this week, teams across Rapleys have been reviewing and digesting it all in depth. Further to the immediate Planning team response, one particular section of the new policy which has caught the attention of our Neighbourly Matters team is ‘Section 11: making effective use of land’. Dan Tapscott, Head of our Neighbourly Matters team comments:

“The drive for making better use of the land we have is a key aspect of this policy which makes specific reference to the importance of Daylight and Sunlight [para 123 (c)]. The Policy calls for local authorities to exercise a flexible approach when considering this subject. This translates to accepting compromise and levels of natural light that fall below recognised guidelines for both neighbours to development and the developments themselves.

Therefore the value and worth in getting maximum efficiencies in the design of schemes and delivering good quality design has never been more crucial. Encouragingly, our clients are increasingly embracing a reverse engineered approach via the use of envelope studies that can inform the design team of where the constraints and areas of sensitivity lie. I think the outcome of the NPPF’s comment on Daylight and Sunlight will inevitably see a rise in the requirement for detailed and accurate studies and therefore the benefits to all parties of a diligent approach from the outset are clear.”

Following Justin Tuckwell’s appointment as head of the Building Consultancy team in 2016, it’s been a strong period of growth across the entire network of offices.  

Simon Harbour, based in Bristol, was recently appointed an equity partner in the business representing the Building Surveying function. This appointment further strengthens the determination to offer a comprehensive service to all parts of the South West and beyond.

The Neighbourly Matters service has a dedicated team with Dan Tapscott, appointed in 2017, leading the team and Natasha Bray heading up the function from the London office. The unique position of the Neighbourly Matters team, sitting within a wider Building Consultancy Group, can really benefit the client and sets them above and beyond others.

Twelve months since joining Rapleys Balvinder Sagoo has expanded his team in the Birmingham office and now has three more building surveyors, Chris Barnett, Josie Hays and Mohammed Afran. Birmingham, as well as the wider area, is showing great signs of regeneration and growth in construction so it has never been a better time to offer a full spectrum of Building Consultancy services on their doorstep.

In London, Paul Adams, former head of automotive and aerospace at Arcadis, has recently joined to drive forward the project management service with a particular focus on the retail and automotive sectors. In today’s market we are seeing the retail and automotive properties merging, and Paul’s expertise in this field will be a very welcome addition to the services Rapleys can provide, from conception to completion.

Jason Mound, started with Rapleys on 2 July to develop a new function within the Building Consultancy Group – Land Development Project Management. The focus will be on strategic land sites and Jason will offer management services through the full spectrum of development including due diligence, acquisition, delivery and estate management plus much more. Along with the Planning consultancy services and the Strategic Land team the offering to clients will be broader and offer the unique insights desired.

The Rapleys Healthcare arm of the Building Consultancy group has not slowed down either and has recently secured large instructions from Dental Partners, backed by August Capital and Colloseum Dental, further reinforcing Rapleys leading position in the dental healthcare market.

We are also delighted to welcome Matthew Bromley, former head of Building Surveying at RLB, who has been appointed to set up a new bid consultancy department focusing on public sector frameworks/commissions.

Rapleys is pleased to announce the introduction of Land Development Project Management services to developers, land owners, Local Authorities and investors on a national basis, complementing our existing service offering to the development market.

Jason Mound joins Rapleys to lead the Land Development Project Management service having previously worked with national regeneration specialist St Modwen Properties plc and since led Atkins Land Development consultancy, also having worked previously in design and build contracting.

Jason offers clients land development management services through the full spectrum of development including due diligence, acquisition, planning, delivery and estate management phases helping to optimise land assets. Jason’s key experience is in infrastructure planning and delivery, managing multi-disciplinary design teams and helping clients to de-risk their land assets, thus enabling land for development, whether through sale of serviced land parcels or joint ventures with housing partners.

This service, coupled with Rapleys strategic land and planning consultancy, offers clients a unique insight in bringing forward land for development. Jason is currently supporting master developers and land owners on strategic land developments across the UK.

Justin Tuckwell, Head of Rapleys Building Consultancy Group comments: “We are absolutely delighted to have secured the services of Jason, a clear leader in his market. With Jason on board we are now able to offer a further service line to our client base throughout the UK.”

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.

This week, the Court of Appeal case Knight v Goulandris [2018] EWCA Civ 237 confirmed that service of a Party Wall Award via email immediately triggers the fourteen day appeal period, after which an Award is legally binding. The knock on effect of this not only means those who wish to appeal an Award in the County Court will have to get their skates on but construction work can start sooner than the traditional postal method of service.

This is the first major judgement since The Party Wall etc. Act (Electronic Communications) Order 2016 was published; the first amendment to the Act in 20 years. At the time this news was widely welcomed, although little or no guidance as to how things would work practically were available. The outcome for a large proportion of the industry has, frustratingly, been to just carry on as normal. By contrast, Rapleys’ Neighbourly Matters team are at the forefront of interpreting and utilising the positive attributes now at our surveyors’ disposal.

Our team deal with Party Walls and also deliver Access Arrangement services, such as crane oversail licences as well as Rights to Light and Daylight & Sunlight Amenity services. By using an advanced electronic signature system we are able to engross Awards and issue to our opposite numbers for signature, whilst an administrator issuing the document automatically acts as the witness. A simple move but it is proving very effective.

When acting on large scale and complex projects with multiple parties the feedback from our appointing owners has been universally positive. There is a reduction in paperwork and we are able to easily refer to and disseminate the information to the relevant members of the project team. Combined with other initiatives such as live project tracking updates, reviewing site progress via drone footage or using apps like FaceTime it has been easy to adapt and this working practice has become second nature. It would seem strange to revert back to traditional and slower work practices now.

Furthermore, whilst we have yet to encounter appointing owners wanting service of notices via the myriad of social media channels, we’d happily consider it. Provided all the relevant parties are in agreement to the method of service / receipt then it really should be a case of anything goes. A refreshing way of thinking and after all, collaboration and agreement is what we are all working towards in any Party Wall matter!

Dan Tapscott, partner in our Building Consultancy department and head of the Neighbourly Matters team, is also secretary of the Severnside branch of the Pyramus & Thisbe Club, an organisation who promote excellence in the field of Party Wall practice.

We are continuing our expansion in the Midlands with the latest appointment of a new partner, Tony Clements, to establish and lead the town planning team in our Birmingham office.

Tony Clements joins from GL Hearn where he spent the last three years leading the regional planning teams. Tony’s appointment means Rapleys now offers dedicated retail & leisure, development, building consultancy and planning services to the Midlands area. The Birmingham office was opened in 2016 and is quickly expanding to reach the ambition of covering the full range of services for developer, investor, landlord and occupier clients.

Tony has over twenty years’ experience as a professional planner and is an experienced expert witness. He has advised a wide range of private and public sector clients across a variety of sectors and has acted on a number of high-profile planning projects.

Tony has a strong track-record promoting large scale residential developments for many of the UK’s largest home builders.

Tony states: “I am excited to be joining the planning team at Rapleys at a time when there are significant opportunities to build on and expand our offer to clients in terms of technical capabilities, sector expertise and geographical coverage. I’m very much looking forward to carrying through the planning process a range of residential and mixed-use development projects that I have been working on across the midlands and nationally.

Delivering a client focused service has always been at the heart of my approach to planning consultancy and I am delighted to join a progressive and expanding team within a highly respected, independent property consultancy.”

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner at Rapleys, states: “I am pleased to welcome Tony 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 expanding national planning business with a focus on the midlands market.”

 

The Government has announced that all local authorities will need to produce up-to-date registers of brownfield sites available for housing, and that guidance to this effect will be issued around June this year. It has also confirmed that legislation about “Permissions in Principle” will follow later in the year to simplify the planning process for developers. While still understandably light on detail, the government’s proposals to streamline development of brownfield land is welcome progress. Both permission in principle and the launch of brownfield registers do bring the potential to more efficiently bring sites on stream although, as ever, the devil will be in the detail.

Taken together, the new mechanisms have the potential to lower the initial hurdle of bringing forward development through the planning system, and this has to be supported. Further, the owners particularly of small and medium sized sites would no doubt be pleased with a relatively simple method of getting on the planning ladder, and provide them with early confidence to further investigate the potential of their land.

Of course, the success of this venture very much depends on Local Authorities’ ability to keep the register up-to-date and implement the new permission in principle regulations. This has the potential to be a real administrative challenge and will require careful management to ensure the opportunity to increase the delivery of housing isn’t missed.

If you have or are aware of any previously developed land that might benefit from being on a brownfield register, or potentially from a “permission in principle”, Jason Lowes or one of our nationwide team would be happy to discuss this further.