Graham Smith has an unusual job. He is approached by, very often, a handful of members reluctantly told they want to sell their church building as they can’t keep up with the costs.
Talking to Premier Christian, Graham Smith, Charities Partner explains how he works with the community to find the best solution when selling a property on the churches behalf.
Graham also discusses the impact Covid has had, and how in 2021 we may see more small churches up for sale due to income struggles.
“A lot of the churches were already failing, Covid has just really exacerbated their closure because typically, the demographics are not the type of people who are wedded to their computers and screens and so having church services on Zoom, or Google or YouTube or whatever, would not have suited them. So that’s why they’ve probably closed and closed quicker than they might have done otherwise.”
Wakako is a senior associate in Rapleys’ town planning team and has advised on a wide range of planning projects involving commercial, leisure, retail, residential and mixed use commercial developments. Her experience includes project management and co-ordination of multi-disciplinary teams in a number of planning applications and appeals, as well as providing advice on the policy formulation process in protecting and promoting clients’ interests.
She has represented clients at appeal hearings and assisted the expert planning witness in giving evidence at a major Inquiry, as well as providing assistance in support of various large scale mixed use regeneration schemes. She has also negotiated with various agencies and stakeholders through a number of complex planning applications.
Wakako has also represented clients at Local Plan examination hearings.
Wakako joined Rapleys in 2006 as a graduate planner, and was promoted to senior associate in 2015.
Simon joined Rapleys in 2002 as a graduate building surveyor and is now a partner in building consultancy. He has experience in all property sectors with particular specialism within the railway, industrial and residential sectors.
He also specialises in residential dilapidation matters and leads multi-disciplinary teams in the preparation and negotiation of complex dilapidations claims for bulk rented housing estates.
Simon is an Incorporated Member of the Association for Project Safety and has experience in all matters of Health and Safety Consultancy. He has acted as CDM co-ordinator and more recently as principle designer on large scale commercial and residential construction projects.
He is experienced in developing bespoke forms for tablet based, electronic data capture and in running projects to undertake detailed surveys of property portfolios in excess of 600 properties.
Adam is a general practice surveyor who joined Rapleys as a partner in September 2015. Adam runs a new department acting for clients in the charity sector.
His particular area of expertise lies in advising church clients on transactional work, lease advisory matters, valuations, development consulting and most areas of general practice.
Adam has vast experience advising churches on funding the replacement of existing, outdated church accommodation through residential development of part of a site. This usually entails an early involvement with regard to the feasibility and financial viability of sites, through to assistance in the disposal of the residential element paying for the new church accommodation.
Adam acts on behalf of a number of Diocese’s of the Church of England, the Thames North Synod of the United Reformed Church, Baptist Union and London Baptist Property Board as well as numerous individual churches.
Each time a charity disposes of property, whether it is the sale or for leases of over seven years, a Charities Act Report has to be written by a qualified surveyor. This report, also known as a Qualified Surveyors Report (QSR), includes a valuation and a wider commentary of the circumstances that may need to be considered by the charity’s trustees. A Charities Act Report will represent the independent verification that the asset is disposed of in a manner that is in the organisation’s best interests and validate the strategic management of the charity.
Charities Act Report
Before a charity disposes of any interest in property its trustees are required to take valuation advice from a qualified surveyor to ensure that they execute the deal on the best terms that can be reasonably obtained for the charity. Whilst this is the case for a full disposal or a lease over seven years or over, for shorter term leases the requirement is less onerous requiring only a simplified review that does not have to be completed by a qualified surveyor.
Charities Act Reports are required for disposals including:
• Leases over seven years
• Granting rights
• Assignment or surrender of leases
• Obtain and consider a qualified surveyors report
• Advertise the disposal as advised by the surveyor
• Obtain the best terms reasonably attainable that are in the charity’s best interests
• Must act solely for the charity
• May write the Charities Act Report and act on behalf of the charity with the disposal
• Have valuation experience of the property type and location
• Be a member of Royal Institution of Surveyors (RICS)
A Charities Act Report (Qualified Surveyors Report) will include:
• A valuation
• Most appropriate method of disposal
• Advertising and marketing advice
• Whether to carry out works or repairs ahead of the sale
• Whether to divide the property into parts for disposal
When a Charity purchases a property, whilst not a legal requirement, getting professional support in the form of a Charities Act report is best practice for the same reasons outlined above regarding a disposal.
Rapleys Not for Profit Sector
In addition to the development consultancy and the agency work of the Rapleys Not for Profit sector, we are authors of a great number of Charities Act Reports for many clients. Rapleys are able to maintain the independence and objectivity for each report with a number of qualified surveyors registered as valuers by the RICS, working within the Charities Sector. Our recent register of Charities Act reports has included a variety of subject properties:
• Former charity school
• Community hall
• Agricultural land
• Town centre retail outlet
Following new legislation introduced by the Government, a number of key changes have been brought in that affect property use classes. Those properties previously grouped together as D1 or D2 use are amongst those more significantly affected. As with all changes, there will be wrinkles to be ironed out in understanding how certain buildings fit into the new categories. In combination with Rapleys planning Team, we will be able to help clients with this substantial modification.
New Planning Use classes
The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Regulations 2020 amend the previous categories from those of 1987 and introduce significant changes to the system of ‘use classes’.
In force from 1 September 2020, subject to certain transitional provisions, the core changes introduce three new use classes for the classification of uses of property.
Class E (Commercial, business and service): including retail, restaurant, office, financial/professional services, indoor sports, medical and nursery uses along with “any other services which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality.”
Class F.1 (Learning and non-residential institutions): including non-residential educational uses, and use as a museum, art gallery, library, public hall, religious institution or law court.
Class F.2 (Local community): including use as a shop of no more than 280 sq m mostly selling essential goods, including food and at least 1km from another similar shop, and use as a community hall, area for outdoor sport, swimming pool or skating rink.
To view the most recent Use Class Order as of Summer 2020, please click here.
Of particular interest to Charities and Not For Profit organisations is the deletion of the previous Classes D1 and D2, non-residential institutions and assembly and leisure uses respectively; they are both removed as shown in the table, and combined into new use classes that now have a much wider range of property types within each class than before.
A change of use within the same use class does not constitute development and therefore does not require planning permission, so more mixed-use and/or faster and more flexible changes of use should be possible in the future.
If you would like to discuss the three additional use classes, which may have an impact on managing your property requirements within the Charities and Not For Profit sector, please contact our specialist Partners, Graham Smith or Adam Harvey.
Alternatively, Rapleys Town Planning team can be contacted in conjunction with changes to the planning system.
Jason is a partner in Rapleys’ town planning team. Since joining Rapleys, Jason has submitted and negotiated a wide range of planning applications, including retail, motor trade, residential and public transport infrastructure. To support such proposals, Jason has prepared retail, design and general planning statements.
Jason has undertaken numerous site analyses and appraisals, and provided planning advice in relation to site disposal. He has also been actively involved in public consultation exercises promoting development, particularly public exhibitions.
Jason has given planning evidence at public enquiry, has provided expert planning witness advice and has promoted development at examinations in public.
Jason was educated at Stowe School and University College London. Since graduation in 2000, Jason spent three years gaining experience within the construction/refurbishment industry. Subsequently Jason worked for two years in contract work as a development control officer for a number of local authorities in the north-west London area, dealing with a wide range of planning applications from minor to major, and contributing to the London Borough of Ealing petition in respect of the Crossrail Bill.
James is a partner in the building consultancy team and has a broad range of experience across all mainstream areas of commercial building surveying.
He specialises in management of refurbishment projects, preparing and negotiating dilapidations claims on behalf of both landlords and tenants, undertaking pre-acquisition and technical due diligence building surveys and advising on Party Wall matters in both residential and commercial schemes.
James has project managed refurbishments valued in excess of £8million and negotiated numerous large dilapidations claims on behalf of various clients ranging from pension and investment funds to top global brands. James has also acted for both Building and Adjoining Owners regarding complex party wall schemes and undertaken building surveys on various prestigious commercial properties ranging from small scale to hundreds of thousands of square feet in size.
Graham joined Rapleys in 2015 and has progressed to be a partner. He shares the leadership of the charities sector within development services. Graham brings together his general practice surveying experience with his skill of working with clients and groups from all backgrounds.
His professional services experience has included real estate consultancy, residential and commercial development appraisal, and investment advice for private clients and charities.
Graham has a broad spread of project management and valuation experience that has been based in London and the home counties, Cambridge and East Anglia.
He leads the professional services valuations team who undertake;
- Valuations of commercial properties;
– Office, retail, industrial
– Portfolio valuations
- Valuation for;
– Secured borrowing
– Accounting purposes
- Residential development appraisals
- Monitoring and interim valuations during construction
Rapleys’ Charities/Non-Profit team continue to be very active in the market and are delighted to share some of our available properties:
A full list is available here.
Apart from our usual consultancy of building and property matters, including landlord and tenant and building surveys, we are also currently engaged in a number of exciting development projects which can be found on the download link. For a no obligation initial meeting to discuss any of your property requirements contact Graham Smith or Adam Harvey
We are also delighted to be attending and sponsoring the networking reception again at this years Charity Property Conference. To find out more about this event and to secure your space please follow this link. We look forward to seeing you there!
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.
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.
Within the Charities sector of Rapleys we have had a number of church buildings to sell recently. We have come to expect a strong response from a diverse range of faith groups when these redundant buildings are in a city. Lately, however, rural locations have proved to be equally stimulating in responses. This is some cheer when we are equally well aware of some churches that have been struggling to keep the doors open.
All around we see closures along the high street which have left empty retail buildings. Can we find a silver lining here? Usually a church does not want to relocate; location, location, location after all! However, by integrating our ecclesiastic specialists with other teams at Rapleys, between planning, retail agency and charities consultancy, we have a one-stop-shop formula that we are finding to be of great interest to clients.
This collective approach has resulted in a number of groups being introduced to empty retail units or warehouses. Out of town retail or commercial parks can be attractive where travel and parking can be easily provided, but the location remains close. In some cases we have considered shared occupation on different days of the week.
Rapleys are currently instrumental in working with a number of churches who have existing property suitable to facilitate the development of their site to gain new facilities. The sale of part of the site is the primary funder for a new church. Not everybody is so fortunate to have such circumstances however. Therefore, the acquisition of redundant buildings might be a worthwhile consideration as an opportunity, at a preferential price or at a reduced rental. In either case there is the likelihood of follow up with a change of planning use application and maybe a conversion to suit.
The creation of new space for church activity, possibly in support of the neighbourhood, demonstrates the integration of church life with that of its community. For example, we have recently agreed many tenancies for preschool companies.
Should anything in the above strike a chord and you would like to enquire further, please contact Graham Smith in the first instance for either an introduction to the charities consultancy or any other department at Rapleys.
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.
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.
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.
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.