Samantha has recently joined the Manchester town planning team as a planner. She has dealt with a range of projects across the UK that require the preparation of documents such as planning statements and covering letters, negotiation with various consultants and planning officers as well as submitting planning applications.
She is able to offer honest and expert planning advice that is tailored to the client’s needs and aspirations. Samantha works directly with the client from the initial site appraisals through to achieving planning permission.
She is well equipped with Urban Designing skills and very good with numbers, she is able to translate and communicate technical information easily. The skills also enable her to offer creative design proposals that can be integrated effectively with the surroundings.
Sadiq Khan’s London Plan is closer to adoption after the Planning Inspectorate gave it the broad go-ahead in its report earlier this week. However, some substantial concerns were raised, and a number of potentially far reaching recommendations were made. When adopted, the new London Plan will replace the current, much consolidated version issued by London’s previous Mayor (now the Prime Minister).
A series of examination hearings were held on the draft new London Plan earlier in the year, and now the much anticipated Inspectors’ Report has been published. The report confirms that the Plan provides an appropriate basis for the strategic planning of Greater London, provided it is amended in line with the Mayor’s suggested changes and, more crucially, the recommendations put forward by the Inspectors.
In this vein, some of the Inspectors’ recommendations would seem to fundamentally change the Mayor’s approach, including the removal of the proposed presumption in favour of small housing developments and, perhaps most contentiously, a recommended commitment to a “strategic and comprehensive review of the Green Belt in London” (albeit to be undertaken as part of the next review of the London Plan).
Evidently there is a lot to digest in the 125 page report, but the principal recommendations can be drawn into three interlocking themes:
- The Inspectors’ recommendation to remove the presumption in favour of small housing developments, and cut the small sites housing target in half, after finding the Mayor’s aspirational policy approach to be “highly unlikely to occur, based on the available evidence”, placing an unreasonable expectation on the contribution that such sites can make in meeting housing targets.
- The draft Plan seeks to apply a blanket approach to prevent the de-designation of Green Belt sites, which the Inspectors consider is not consistent with the NPPF. As a remedy, they suggest that the Plan commits to a review of the Green Belt in future policy work. In addition, alterations addressing the rather stringent original wording of Green Belt policies are suggested, effectively putting them in line with the NPPF.
- The report finds that the need for industrial land is likely to be greater than assumed in the Plan, and that this demand could be “many hundreds of hectares”. In response, the Inspectors recommend that allowance is made for boroughs to review their Green Belt boundaries in emerging Local Plans, to make allowance for additional industrial capacity.
The Mayor has already voiced his opposition to some of the report; not least the principle of a London-wide Green Belt review and it will be interesting to see what his next move is. Further, any suggestion of releasing land from the Green Belt always proves politically contentious – to say the least.
However, in reading the report it is evident that the Inspectors have not come to their recommendations lightly, and from their perspective the recommendations relative to Green Belt policies are intended to bring the London Plan in line with national policy.
The Inspectors also insist that the matter of a Green Belt review must be considered in the light of their findings that “capacity within London is insufficient to meet the identified annual need for housing and the potential shortfall of industrial land in the medium to longer term”, emphasising the issue of competing land uses, and balancing the needs of a growing population against the protecting the fundamental aims of the Green Belt.
The Inspectors also raise difficult questions in respect of the considerable reliance on small sites, an approach which was not considered realistic, leading to recommendations to significantly reduce Borough targets for such sites. This stance, whilst appearing somewhat severe at first glance, is not unsurprising, given the difficulties that are often faced when bringing forward small sites for redevelopment, particularly in London, against the quantum of new dwellings that the new London Plan expected to be brought forward in this manner.
The shortfall in industrial land highlighted by the Inspectors will be familiar to anybody trying to find, for example, sites for logistics development in London, particularly in the inner boroughs, and therefore the attention given to this matter will be welcomed by those in the industry.
In summary, the matters raised by the Inspectors are quite significant and their view is clear that “it would be wrong to unilaterally rule out changes to the Green Belt”. However the report is equally candid in saying that the consequences of not adopting a London Plan would be worse than adopting one that does not meet the capital’s development needs. The ball is now in the Mayor’s court, and we await his response.
Jamie started his career at Rapleys in September 2019 as a Planner based in the London Office. Previously he worked as a Planning Policy Officer at North Hertfordshire District Council. Jamie began studying MA Planning Policy and Practice in September 2017 at London South Bank University to start working towards obtaining his RTPI qualification; prior to this he studied Geoscience at Durham University.
Jamie has brought this experience to Rapleys where he works in the town planning department. Jamie undertakes a range of projects including policy research, site appraisals and preparing planning applications for both the residential and retail sectors.
Jamie can offer clients advice on whether planning permission is required and the likelihood of a permission being granted. Any advice offered by him is tailored to the specific needs and ambitions of the client.
The RICS released the first ‘Professional Statement for Affordable Housing Viability’ in May 2019, which has been in effect since 01 September 2019. The ‘RICS First Edition of the Financial Viability in Planning: Conduct and Reporting’ is mandatory for all RICS members and sets out what must be included within all Financial Viability Assessments (FVA) and how the viability process must be conducted. The key changes that must now be incorporated when carrying out the viability process are relevant not just to viability practitioners, but also to developers and consultants that contribute to FVA submissions as part of the planning application process.
The statement was compiled against the background of the High Court decision in Parkhurst Road Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor  EWHC 991, which emphasised the need for clarity in relation to problems regularly occurring within the practice.
It has also been previously reported from various stakeholders in the sector that FVAs were of a varied standard. Namely, they don’t all include the required information to provide proper regard to all material facts and circumstances both area wide and scheme specific.
Whilst the statement focuses on the reporting and processes involved, more specific details on development viability in planning will be dealt with in the forthcoming second edition of the RICS guidance note ‘Financial Viability in Planning’. A few new and amended processes are detailed here.
Increasing the transparency of reported information has been a hot topic in viability over recent times and this statement increases the need to make FVAs public material during the planning application process. It states that FVAs must be prepared on the basis it will be made publically available. This should provide more clarity to the general public and should increase the trust that the viability process is being carried out in an appropriate manner. In addition, it is now mandatory that viability appraisals should be based on market information rather than client specific information.
Previously it was up to the developers’ consultants to provide the information to prove an appraisal input is justified when there was a disagreement. Whereas it now ensures that if a reviewer does not agree with an assumption they must provide a detailed summary of the differences, including the supporting or reasonable justification as to why there is a disagreement. This is of benefit to the developer as it should reduce the time spent negotiating disagreements as both sides will start with fully justified information rather than just a disagreement with no evidence.
To further ensure that all information is consistent, impartial and without interference, it is now a mandatory requirement that all contributors to reports utilised within the FVA process, both acting for developers or public authorities, must comply with the mandatory requirements within this document. It is the responsibility of the RICS member or firm carrying out the FVA to ensure that is carried out. This should help to improve the trust that all inputs of the FVA process are reasonable, justified and provided by a competent and capable individual or firm. By ensuring that all inputs are reasonable and provided by a competent practitioner the negotiating time of the FVA will be reduced.
As a partnership we have been adopting best practice guidance for many years but the production of this Professional Statement formalises the process that needs be followed in the preparation of FVA reports.
We carry out a large number of FVAs for our developer and landowner clients on sites of varying scale and quantum nationally and would be happy to assist with all matters in relation to both FVA report submissions and affordable housing matters.
In addition to this professional statement the RICS is producing a second edition of the guidance note Financial Viability in Planning (published in 2012), to reflect on the changes in the revised National Planning Policy Framework 2018 (updated February 2019) and the Planning Practice Guidance 2018 (updated May 2019). There is no date set for the publishing of this document but we continue to monitor the matter to ensure we adopt the most up-to-date and relevant guidance.
Harriet joined Rapleys as a Planner in August 2019, following previous private sector experience in property consultancy and a global architecture and masterplanning consultancy.
Having trained in both architecture and planning, gaining experience in both industries, Harriet has an understanding of how the two disciplines not only operate but also the ways in which they overlap. In the past, she has worked on a wide range of projects from written representations all the way through to strategic masterplans for prominent large-scale UK sites.
Harriet is particularly interested in how alternative models of housing, such as co-living, are being used to tackle the housing crisis and the ways in which future planning policy can both embrace and enable this.
On 01 October the Government released a replacement suite of planning practice guidance relating to design, as a key part of its attempts to encourage better quality development. The release follows the interim report of the ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ Commission a few months ago and was trialled at the Conservative Party Conference earlier in the week. Although the new guidance does not have the formal status of planning policy, it is nevertheless relevant to both policy making and decision taking.
National Design Guide
Arguably at the heart of the new guidance is a ‘National Design Guide’ (NDG), a 70 page document which is intended to build on the policies within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that encourage high quality development, specifically by:
- Defining ten characteristics of ‘beautiful, enduring and successful places’ with ‘looking forward’ checklists which include; the context and identity of different locations, natural and public spaces, efficiency in use of resources, and ensuring that development is ‘made to last’
- Setting a ‘common overarching framework’ within which specific, detailed and measurable design criteria can be produced at the local level
- The introduction of a National Model Design Code, which is intended to set the standard for local design guides and codes to be prepared by local authorities. However, the code itself is not included, instead it is confirmed that the draft code will be subject to consultation early next year, following the final reporting of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission in December.
On a practical level, it is clear that the Government wishes greater emphasis to be placed on the ‘story’ of the design evolution of development proposals, highlighting the role of design and access statements (which were brought in just over 10 years ago to address this matter in any event).
Other elements of the replacement guidance
The guidance framing the NDG includes further detail as to how the planning system should support well designed places. In addition to the NDG, the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) update includes:
- Clarification of the role of strategic and non-strategic policies, masterplans and design codes
- A commitment for local authorities to prepare a ‘Local Design Guide’ to be adopted as supplementary planning documents or appended to a neighbourhood plan
- A reiteration of the Government’s commitment to pre-application discussions, and guidance on planning application related documentation such as parameter plans (for outline applications) and Design and Access Statements (as flagged above)
- A commitment to community engagement on design matters and design review more generally.
It is clear that improving the quality of development design is a key Government aspiration for the planning system. However, in truth (and unsurprisingly, given the youth of the prime minister’s administration) this is at a very early stage. As matters stand the guidance, and in particular the NDG, deals with general concepts on a nationwide basis. In the short term, it can be anticipated that some local planning authorities will expect developers to design their schemes in a manner which clearly takes the NDG into account.
However, the new guidance and the NDG is likely to start in earnest once the National Model Design Code is published, and local authorities start to prepare their own Local Design Guide and Codes (albeit there is a question as to how many local planning authorities will have the resource and expertise to produce them).
More generally, if the design code approach promoted by the Government provides a greater degree of certainty in the planning process on a matter which is inherently subjective, this will no doubt be welcomed by landowners and developers. However, on the other hand, if not applied flexibly or geographically there is a danger that the national model design code approach promoted by the Government will create a level of prescription to development which is unjustified. This could result in monotonous development that does not take into account the unique physical context, history and the cultural characteristics of its location and surroundings.
Planning practice guidance (PPG) has been updated to reflect new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) regulations that came into force on 1 September. Here are five key things you need to know about the changes.
- A section on ‘monitoring and reporting’ has been introduced.
- Councils are given autonomy over how they should consult when introducing a levy.
- More detail has been provided on how indexation should be applied to section 73 applications, which amend an existing planning permission.
- Guidance on spending CIL revenue has been revised.
- Authorities are explicitly advised that ‘charging authorities can use funds from both the levy and section 106 planning obligations to pay for the same piece of infrastructure.
Neil Jones, Partner in our Town Planning department, shares his views and comments on each of the above and how the updates might impact local authorities, developers and the general public alike.
The full article is on Planning Resource (4/9/2019).
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.
Will joined Rapleys in 2018 as a partner in the Affordable Housing/Viability team. He joined from GL Hearn where he worked for over 8 years in the Affordable Housing and Viability team.
Will specialises in providing development valuation advice for residential and mixed-use sites, with a particular emphasis on the valuation of affordable housing and development viability. He has provided valuation advice to many large developing Registered Providers including Clarion, L&Q, TVHA and Home Group.
He also acts on behalf of private developers in connection with viability negotiations with local authorities in order to assess the appropriate level of affordable housing. Following completion of s.106 agreements, Will acts in an agency role for developers to secure a Registered Provider. He also provides agency advice to Registered Providers for acquisition purposes.
Will is able to offer clients strategic valuation advice in connection with the redevelopment of their sites, including appropriate affordable housing strategies in order to maximise both land and resale values.
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.’
‘Lookers car dealership boasts flat above – a one-off or a new mixed-use template, asks Nick Hughes’ – Property Week.
‘Standing three storeys tall beneath a block of modern apartments, Lookers in Battersea, south London, is not your average car dealership – on two counts. Not only is it the largest Volkswagen showroom in Europe, it is also part of what is thought to be the first UK mixed-use scheme to include a dealership.
The development has been the best part of a decade in the making and involves three key players: Lookers, developer Linden Homes and agent Rapleys, which brought the other two parties together.’
Angus Irvine, Head of Development Services, brought Lookers and Linden Homes together to achieve a balanced and innovative scheme in this desirable London postcode. Stretching back for several decades a dealership has occupied this site but Lookers Chief Executive, Andy Bruce, could see the dealership ‘being dwarfed by the rise of surrounding developments’ over the last few years. With no intention to sell the freehold of their site they turned to Rapleys to unlock the value in the land and in this area, the value was in upward development.
The result was a tower development scheme with 173 apartments and ‘a full-blown dealership with servicing. That’s why this is unique’ says Angus. To overcome the challenges the multi discipline Rapleys team, led by Angus, 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.
Dan joined Rapleys in July 2018 as an Associate in the town planning department.
Since graduating from the University of the West of England in 2007 Dan has worked for RPS and Walsingham Planning (Ian Jewson Planning until a merger in 2016). He became a Chartered Town Planner in 2009.
Dan has a range of experience in different areas of planning, with a particular focus on residential and residential-led mixed-use developments. His areas of expertise include planning appraisals, applications, appeals and development plan promotions. He also has significant experience in co-ordinating multi-disciplinary teams and the preparation of Environmental Statements.
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.’
“Housing minister Kit Malthouse has announced the five successful bids to create new towns across England. Between them, these settlements could deliver 64,000 homes.
The communities will receive a share of £3.7 million in funding that aims to ‘fast-track’ specialist survey and planning works necessary for their development…
…Jason Lowes, a partner in the planning team at Rapleys, said the funding deal is further confirmation that garden communities ‘very clearly’ remain a key part of the government’s new homes strategy. While they should be welcomed in principle, Lowes said they are ‘by their nature a long-term solution and only part of the picture.’
‘Nearer-term solutions, such as the expansion of existing cities, towns and villages, are also critically important to ensure that people who want to can find new homes close to their families. This needs to be pursued through intensifying densities in appropriate locations, not least town centres, and reviewing the spaces around existing settlement boundaries – including, if necessary and appropriate, green belt land – particularly brownfield green belt land.'”
For the full article go to The Planner by clicking here.
Tony joined Rapleys as a partner in the town planning department in January 2018. Before joining the team, Tony headed up the Regional planning teams at GL Hearn. Prior to this he was Head of Planning at the RPS Bristol. Tony has well over twenty years’ experience as a professional planner, with the last seventeen years spent in consultancy.
Tony 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 including:
- DP World London Gateway Container Port for Shell and P&O Ports
- Barton Farm 2,000 dwelling urban extension to Winchester for CALA Homes
- 2,500 dwelling Hunts Grove urban extension to Gloucester for Crest Nicholson
- Major leisure, retail and tourism proposals extending to 500,000 sq ft for Aviva and the Eden Project
Tony has advised major home builders such as Crest Nicholson, Bovis Homes, Barratt Homes, Persimmon Homes, Linden Homes and CALA Homes. He has also advised regional home builders such as Redcliffe Homes, developers including Gallaghers, Heron Land and Places for People, and public sector bodies such as Severn Trent Water Ltd, Thames Valley Police Authority and the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Tony is an experienced expert witness having acted on behalf of clients at major planning inquiries and examinations in public across the country. He has significant experience in successfully managing and leading multi-disciplinary teams on a wide range of major projects with a particular focus on large scale residential schemes.
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.”
As part of a series of announcements last week, the Government surprised many by replacing its national planning policies with a revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). However, now that the dust has settled it looks like two of the other announcements, changes in National Planning Practice Guidance and the Government’s first annual reporting on its Housing Delivery Test, are nevertheless as, if not more, relevant.
Another National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
The original NPPF was published in 2012, and it took six years to be replaced in July 2018. Less than 9 months later, this document has now been superseded. However, the changes in the document appear, at first glance, to be minor at best. The substance of the changes can be summarised as follows:
• As a result of a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling, a paragraph has been changed to make it clear that the presumption in favour of sustainable development does not apply where the proposal will have a “significant effect” on a habitats site, unless an assessment has concluded that the proposal will not adversely effect the integrity of that habitats site (paragraph 177).
• A footnote has been amended to state that “where local housing need is used as the basis for assessing whether a five year supply of specific deliverable sites exists, it should be calculated using the standard method set out in national planning guidance” (footnote 37).
• An amendment to the glossary to confirm that non-major sites with outline consent should be presumed deliverable, unless there is evidence that they are not, effectively flipping the presumption for this type of development (definition of “deliverable sites”).
• A further glossary amendment to clarify that alternative approaches to the standardised method of calculating housing yield should only be used in policy making and not, for example, housing land supply statements (definition of “local housing need”).
All in all, the changes to the NPPF can be boiled down to; one change in the main body of the document, one footnote change and two glossary amendments. As such, they represent a tightening up of the 2018 version rather than indicating any broader change in approach.
On the positive side, planners across England will be heaving a sigh of relief that they don’t have to memorise another raft of paragraph numbers. However, the publication of such a similar policy document, so soon after the last one, raises the question of whether we can expect new NPPFs to be published on a regular basis.
Practice Guidance changes relative to calculating housing need
In an attempt to simplify the system, last year the Government introduced a standard method of calculating housing need, based on household projections. However, this was somewhat undermined by the publication, last autumn, of new household projections based on 2016 data, which suggested, when applied to the standard methodology, a housing need that was far below the Government’s nationwide aspirations.
The Government has since made it clear that these projections should not be used, preferring the earlier, 2014 based data. Last week’s change to practice guidance represents a further cementing of this position. However, this is likely to prove temporary as the Government is reviewing its methodology and we can expect further announcements on this later in the year.
Housing Delivery Test (HDT) results
HDT was introduced by the Government in the 2018 NPPF as a way of measuring the actual delivery of additional dwellings in a local authority area against need. The results of these tests are of high importance to both local authorities and developers; substantial under-delivery against the test triggers the presumption in favour of sustainable development.
The results indicate that over a third were below the 100% pass rate and many were considerably lower. Of these, 87 of the worst performing local authorities will need to apply a 20% buffer when calculating housing need. In addition they, and a further 22 authorities, will need to produce “action plans” to remedy the situation.
The presumption in favour of sustainable development has not been triggered by any local authority yet, but this is because the threshold for substantial under-delivery is currently 25% of need. It will rise next year, and then again in 2020 to its final level of 75%. Around 20% of local authorities would currently fail against this yardstick.
The release of new national policies would normally be a major planning story, but in reality the changes are incremental and reflect government thinking that we were already aware of. The same is true of the changes to planning practice guidance.
In this context, the biggest takeaway of last week’s announcements is likely to prove the HDT results – these illustrate that housing delivery falls short (in some cases far short) of Government aspirations. Although this is hardly news in itself, local authorities will be under considerable (and growing) pressure to increase the numbers of new homes, particularly in the worst performing areas, with knock-on opportunities for developers and landowners.
If you would like to discuss how the planning system might add value to your property portfolio, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
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.
Oliver joined Rapleys in August 2017 as a member of the Building Consultancy team and has a broad range of experience across all areas of commercial building surveying. His main focus is on dilapidations, pre-acquisition surveys and project management.
Oliver has undertaken pre-acquisition surveys on a wide range of properties and project managed office refurbishments and landlord works in shopping centres.
Marcus is a qualified Chartered Surveyor within Rapleys Development Consultancy Team. Marcus is active in a number of sectors including residential, student, care and mixed use developments. He can assist clients in the acquisition and disposal of development land/property, feasibility and viability assessments as well as general agency and development advice.
Marcus joined Rapleys in 2017 following studying Real Estate Management at Oxford Brookes University. Marcus successfully became a chartered surveyor in 2019.
Richard is a partner in Rapleys’ town planning team. He has extensive commercial and residential sector knowledge and experience, gained within a variety of both public, private and client side roles.
Richard has worked with a wide range of national clients, particularly in the convenience retail sector where he is currently managing the Lidl portfolio. He has successfully obtained planning permission on appeal and embarked on a number of informal hearings resulting in a successful outcome. Richard’s extensive experience and interest in S106 negotiations, viability, CIL and planning policy give him a complete understanding of the best way to secure planning permission.
Richard has expertise in securing planning permission for major complex planning applications and high profile schemes. He specialises in guiding and developing tough planning strategies for schemes often requiring significant community and public engagement.
Richard is highly focused, fostering a good work ethic to motivate his team towards the successful execution of shared objectives and engaging with the local community to address planning issues.
Steve joined Rapleys in 2017 as a partner and heads up the strategic land division. He joined from Avant Homes where he held the position of Head of Strategic Land for the Midlands and Yorkshire Region. He has also previously worked for national house builders and affordable housing providers in a strategic land and development capacity. Steve’s experience further extends to the executive team of the North Northants Development Company (regional Government Agency), where he focused on delivering capital projects and assisting developers in realising housing sites constrained by infrastructure requirements. Thus, he has valuable experience of both the private and public sector sides of the fence.
Steve’s expertises lie in strategic site identification and acquisition via option, followed by the project management of sites through the development process to planning. Steve negotiates directly with landowners, gaining their trust and in return receiving favourable terms on deals for his clients. In his last year with Avant he secured strategic sites for 1,500 new homes ranging from two 100 unit sites in the Leeds suburbs now allocated for housing in the City Part 2 site allocations Local Plan, to a site for 600 units in Nottinghamshire where a 3.3 years supply of housing land meant that an early planning application was prepared. As part of the promotion process, he has worked with Neighbourhood Plan Teams and community groups to bring value from land controlled by developers.
Steve can offer clients strategic land advice on controlled sites as well as assistance in identifying and securing new opportunities in their preferred locations, followed by project management of acquired sites. Steve has experience of putting together technical promotion teams, managing budgets and minimising development spend via careful cost management, infrastructure viability and S106 negotiation.
Buoyed with revised forecasts from the OBR, the Chancellor certainly had more wiggle room on Budget day than many expected, but there are questions over how his despatch box announcements will impact the delivery of much needed new housing. In other news, the Government is gathering opinions on two key housing related initiatives.
In advance of the Budget, planning matters were heavily trailed, particularly in terms of promoting housing and rejuvenating the high street. However, perhaps inevitably, firm announcements were arguably a little thin on the ground.
In terms of housing, an extension (albeit a temporary one) of Help to Buy and the roll-out of backdated stamp duty relief for first time buyers of shared ownership property will likely provide a welcome boost to the voting public seeking to get on the property ladder. The stimulus package to support smaller house builders as well as strategic partnerships with nine Housing Associations across England will also be welcomed.
However, beyond this, a major focus relative to housing was on the publishing of the full recommendations of the Letwin review. Critically, Letwin found no evidence to support the allegations of so-called ‘Land Banking’ levelled against many developers. The real reasons behind the gap between planning consent and housing delivery are, as many planners would attest, far more complex (so complex, in fact, that the Government’s response will not be published until February next year).
Letwin’s recommendations relate particularly to the largest development sites (i.e. those with more than 1,500 homes) and would potentially see planning rules requiring developers to offer a range of “housing products” (which already happens to a large extent) and allowance for a bigger role for councils. When responding to the report, the government will need to be wary of making a complex system more complicated for developers and stretched local authorities.
As for the high street, the new reduction in Business Rates for certain small businesses is a welcome move but, at the same time, those retailers who have had difficult times recently would not blame this factor alone – rates are an important, though singular, piece of this puzzle. In terms of planning, the chief response was the announcement of a consultation to further extend permitted development rights – further details below.
Consultation 1: “Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes”
Although this consultation takes in a number of matters, such as reforms to how local authorities can dispose of surplus land and compulsory purchase guidance for new town development corporations, the most eye-catching part of this consultation is proposed extensions to permitted development rights.
- Greater flexibility relative to land use in the high street – although the only new suggestion relevant to the delivery of housing is the suggested ability to change the use of takeaway premises to residential without planning permission, which will surely have, at best, a limited impact.
- The ability to add floors to existing development (potentially up to five storeys) without the need for planning permission – although, reading between the lines, the tension between this initiative and how it would take local circumstances into consideration is exercising the Government.
- The ability to demolish commercial buildings and redevelop sites as residential without planning permission – this would, potentially, be a major step, and if implemented is likely to be highly restricted/controlled.
- Other matters, including increasing the scope of permitted development in terms of electric charging, and a proposal to make permanent some temporary measures, specifically the ability to change storage and distribution facilities to residential use and residential extensions.
All in all, the consultation suggests some fairly sweeping changes relative to the delivery of housing. However, in our view it falls short in terms of land use in the High Street – many were hoping for a further widening of permitted development relative to converting shops to residential. Comments on the proposal are sought before 14 January 2019.
Consultation 2: “Technical consultation to updates to national planning policy and guidance”
Announced the Friday before the Budget, the Government is also seeking views on matters relative to national planning policy. Given that the NPPF was only adopted in July, it might seem slightly counter-intuitive to be considering changes already, however as much as anything this consultation is about how local authorities should consider housing need through the planning policy process, in light of the household projections, based on 2016 data, released by the ONS in September.
As suggested by the title, the consultation is somewhat technical, but the broad background to this is the Government’s moves to standardise the calculation of housing need across England (Standard Objectively Assessed Need, or SOAN). Using the Government’s methodology, SOAN is calculated using household projections as a starting point. However, the latest household projections were seen as putting a spanner in the works, as in many places the resulting SOAN calculations resulted in a significant drop in numbers, in sum falling far short of the Government’s aspirations to deliver 300,000 new homes per year.
For those following this closely, the headlines are:
- For the short term, 2014-based household projections should be used as the demographic baseline (not the aforementioned, and lower, 2016-based projections).
- It is clarified that the 2016-based projections cannot be used as an ‘exceptional circumstance’ to justify a departure from the standard methodology.
- In the long term the standard methodology will be reviewed to support the aspiration of delivering 300,000 dwellings a year.
Other matters included within the consultation include defining “deliverable” in terms of housing, and a suggestion that the assumption in favour of sustainable development should still apply for development requiring a Habitats Regulation Assessment, if there is no adverse effect. Comments are sought before 7 December 2018.
If you would like to respond to the consultations, or discuss the Government’s changes to the planning system further (and in particular explore how they could add value to your property portfolio), please get in touch.
Jason’s comments were cited further in CityAM 30 October 2018 – click here
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 the 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 and has represented clients at Local Plan examination hearings.
Wakako joined Rapleys in 2006 as a graduate planner and was promoted to senior associate in 2015.
As part of emerging growth plans for the Oxford – Milton Keynes – Cambridge Arc, which includes the £215 million Growth Deal for Oxfordshire announced in late 2017, the Government has published a plan showing the broad alignment of the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, a key component of its future growth strategy for the Arc.
The Oxford – Milton Keynes – Cambridge Arc is one of the most economically successful in the country and competes internationally for high-tech and science investment. Following a request from the Government, the National Infrastructure Commission investigated ways to maximise the potential of the area. The report subsequently published in November 2017, concluded that rates of house building in the area will need to double if the arc is to achieve its economic potential.
The absence of a direct dual carriageway link between Oxford and Cambridge had been recognised as a significant infrastructure barrier and constraint to growth. To address this, in November 2016, the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway Strategic Study Stage 3 Report (Highways England/Department of Transport) was published and identified three corridor options for further assessment:
- Option A: a northern option, roughly following the existing A421 to the south of Bicester and via Buckingham to the east of Milton Keynes.
- Option B: a central option, following the east-west rail corridor.
- Option C: a southern option via Aylesbury, linking to the M1 south of Milton Keynes.
A decision on the preferred corridor option for the expressway has been eagerly awaited by the development industry. There are areas within this corridor and in close proximity to the expressway, that will in future become natural locations for strategic housing and employment growth that will be identified in future Local Plans. The announcement this week, that Option B is the preferred broad alignment will help to define the parameters of this critical growth axis and establish areas of search for long term strategic development opportunities.
Rapleys has significant experience in undertaking site searches and identifying long term strategic development opportunities. For further information please contact either Tony Clements or Dan Sharp.
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.
Sarah joined Rapleys as an Associate in 2011, being promoted to Partner in 2015. She works nationally with a wide range of clients dividing her time between the Bristol and Birmingham offices. Prior to joining Rapleys, Sarah had worked in consultancy in Swindon since the late 1990s and has more than twenty years experience as a professional planner.
Sarah has advised a range of private sector clients across a variety of sectors including Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon homes, Redrow, Bellcross Homes, Commercial Estates Group, Associated British Foods, Wrenbridge Estates, Gallagher Developments and the Jockey Club. High profile planning projects including:
- 4,500 dwelling/mixed use urban extension to Swindon (Wichelstowe) for Taylor Wimpey
- 5,000 sq m extension to a pharmaceutical factory in Swindon
- Regeneration and redevelopment of former British Sugar refinery in York for 1,100 dwellings
- Promotion of a 4,500 dwelling garden village at Colworth, Bedfordshire for Wrenbridge/Unilever
- Regeneration and redevelopment of former factory site for B1/B8/5,600sq m Asda store at Worksop for CEG
Sarah has significant experience in managing and leading multi-disciplinary teams on a wide range of major (and minor) projects, with particular emphasis on largescale residential/mixed use/commercial (non-retail) schemes. Sarah’s specific area of knowledge is Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) where she has over fifteen years of experience of advising, managing and co-ordinating Environment Statements to accompany planning applications.
Nick joined Rapleys in early 2015 as a partner in the special projects & development team after ten years at Strettons Chartered Surveyors, where he was responsible for the development consultancy team from 2012 onwards.
Nick specialises in providing detailed development valuation advice for residential and mixed-use sites, with a particular emphasis on the valuation of affordable housing and development viability. He has provided advice to developers in both the public and private sectors and was previously on the valuation panel for the majority of the G15 Housing Associations within Greater London.
In his former role, Nick was jointly responsible for successfully tendering to provide detailed valuation advice to Triathlon Homes in relation to the phased release of their 704 affordable rent, shared ownership and shared equity units within East Village (former Olympic Athlete’s Village). He has also provided detailed valuation advice on other major residential led regeneration schemes in London, a number of which have been for developments in excess of 500 homes.
He has acted on behalf of private developers in connection with viability negotiations with local authorities in order to assess the appropriate level of affordable housing. Following completion of s.106 agreements, he has acted on behalf of both private developers and Registered Providers in connection with the valuation, acquisition and disposal of ‘Package Price’ s.106 affordable housing contributions.
He has acted on behalf of land owners and developers in the acquisition and sale of development sites within London & the Home Counties.
Nick is able to offer clients strategic valuation advice in connection with the redevelopment of their sites, including appropriate affordable housing strategies in order to maximise both land and resale values.
Neil is a Partner in Rapleys’ town planning team and is passionate about providing clear, commercially informed planning advice to his clients.
He has an extensive knowledge and understanding of the planning system gained during more than 15 years experience within private sector planning consultancies in London, Leeds and Manchester. In this time, Neil has successfully advised clients in the private, public and voluntary sectors.
Neil has specialist knowledge and experience in the residential, retail, automotive and roadside, office and healthcare sectors. He has a proven track record in managing complex planning applications and appointing and leading large, multi-disciplinary consultancy teams on behalf of his clients. Neil is confident in leading negotiations with local authorities and key stakeholders. More recently, Neil has successfully represented clients at appeal as an Expert Witness.
Completed and current projects include:
- Redevelopment of the former British Sugar factory site in York to provide over 1000 new homes, educational facilities and public open space
- Redevelopment of a previously developed Green Belt site in Greater Manchester to provide approximately 85 new family homes
- Redevelopment of an out of centre brownfield site in Leeds for retail and car showroom units totalling 90,000 sq ft
- Redevelopment of a key City of London site to provide a new 50,000 sq m headquarter office building
- Development of a headquarter office building in the Green Belt on behalf of a international pharmaceuticals company
On 6 April 2018, updated planning regulations came into force which allow for larger scale residential development to take place through the conversion of agricultural buildings, without the need for planning permission.
The amendments to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2018 (SI 2018 no. 343) extended the permitted development rights in relation to agricultural buildings.
Permitted development rights allow for certain types of development and changes of use to be carried out without the need to submit a planning application.
Previous permitted development rights
Under the previous regulations (2015), agricultural buildings could be converted to residential dwellings, via permitted development rights, as long as the conversion did not create more than 3no. dwellings and no single dwelling could have a maximum floor space above 450 sq.m.
Permitted development rights now
The new regulations (2018) increase the number of houses that can be created from the conversion of agricultural buildings without the need for planning permission. Agricultural buildings can now be converted to provide:
- 5no. small scale dwellings with a max floor space of 100 sq m; or
- 3no. larger dwellings with a max floor space of 465 sq m; or
- 5no. dwellings comprising 3no. large dwellings (a max floor space of 465 sq m) and 2no. small dwellings with a max floorspace of 100 sq m
What does this mean for land owners & developers?
The Government anticipates that the new regulations will result in an increase in the number of new homes created through the conversion of agricultural buildings. It is hoped that this will positively contribute to the supply of homes to meet local needs and result in the delivery of new houses which safeguard the character of local areas.
The changes to the regulations allow land owners and developers greater flexibility when considering the conversion of agricultural buildings both in terms of the number of new houses which can be created and the size of the dwellings. This in turn, should create more opportunities for small scale residential development within rural areas.
Whilst a planning application to convert an agricultural building to residential use is not required if the proposal meets the criteria set out above, along with some more detailed criteria, it will still be necessary to apply for prior approval from the Local Planning Authority to confirm that specified elements of the development are acceptable.
If you require further information or advice on how you might benefit from the new regulations, please contact Neil.
Lisa joined Rapleys in July 2013 as a surveyor specialising in managing property portfolios on behalf of landlords.
Promoted to senior associate in November 2017, Lisa has over 11 years experience in managing a diverse portfolio of offices, shops, industrial, leisure complexes and residential properties on behalf of a major landlord and landowner in Hertfordshire as well as number of other landlords across the country.
Lisa is now head of landlord services and through dealing with new lettings, property management, service charges, asset management, L&T issues and land acquisition ahead of a compulsory purchase order, is well placed to provide clients with an exceptional level service ensuring that property risks are minimised.
Jonny’s role is to advise pension funds, financial institutions, property companies and private individuals on the sale, purchase and funding of income producing UK commercial property.
Although the majority of work is transactional, Jonny’s role is to advise UK and overseas clients on their property portfolios. Advice typically constitutes guiding property values, highlighting asset management potential and analysing properties for purchase and exit strategies.
Clients include: AXA Real Estate Investment Managers, Palmer Capital Partners, RREEF (now Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management), Threadneedle Property Investments,TH Real Estate, Moorfield Group, Palace Capital plc, CCLA Investment Management, Siemens Real Estate, Wm Morrison plc, Central England Co-Op, Disney Inc, Malthurst Group, Mercedes Benz, Sytner Group, Lookers plc, Johnston Press plc, Milton Keynes Parks Trust, John Lewis Partnership, Pendragon plc, Bolling Investments, Marshall Motor Group, Musgrave Retail Partners (now Tesco), C2 Capital, Private Investors and Chubb Common Investment Fund (in-house fund).
Jonny specialises in working with private equity groups, property companies and HNWI’s on value added deals which typically involve repositioning of assets by active asset management, refurbishment and redevelopment angles. Experience also extends to large mixed-use developments, especially where anchored by PRS.
Jonny joined Rapleys in 2006 and became an associate in 2010. He was promoted to partner in 2015. Thus far, Jonny has acted on in excess of £1bn of transactions.
Jonathan is a senior associate and has a wide range of experience across a number of property sectors including residential, retail, commercial, and automotive & roadside development.
The work he has undertaken includes the project management of major planning applications, planning appraisals to assess the development potential of sites, the identification and promotion of strategic land sites, and planning appeals.
He has experience advising a wide range of clients including national retailers, house builders, asset managers, private developers and corporate clients.
Jonathan joined Rapleys in 2012. He previously worked for North-West based planning consultancy NJL Consulting LLP.
Jamie joined Rapleys in April 2016 as a graduate surveyor from Oxford Brookes University after studying planning and property development.
Jamie is a surveyor in the Affordable Housing & Viability team in the London office. Jamie specialises in providing development appraisals via Argus, HCA DAT and Three Dragons.
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.
James is a senior associate in Rapleys’ lease consultancy team and has a wide range of commercial property experience. He has professionally represented a range of institutional landlords and private individuals, and is a RICS Registered Valuer.
He specialises in all aspects of lease consultancy work including the negotiation of rent reviews, lease renewals and lease re-gears. He also undertakes Red Book Valuations for loan security and other purposes.
James joined Rapleys in 2013. Prior to this he worked at Strettons Chartered Surveyors in London for nine years where he split his time between commercial agency, Red Book Valuations and lease consultancy.
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
The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations come into force in two months’ time. From 1 April 2018, commercial properties must have a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘E’ or above in order to be let. The MEES regulations will apply to the renewal of existing leases and may also have an impact upon future lease events, such as rent reviews and break options occurring after 1 April 2018.
The changes in MEES regulations are likely to affect property owners and existing tenants throughout the UK. So, to minimise the impact, forthcoming lease event dates for any sub-standard property should be identified quickly.
Firstly, landlords would be well advised to ensure that lease renewals for properties with an ‘F’ or ‘G’ rating are completed before the MEES regulations become mandatory on 1 April 2018.
Landlords should also ensure that new leases restrict a tenant from obtaining a new EPC, other than for when one is actually required i.e. in connection with an assignment or the grant of a subletting. This is because a new ‘F’ or ‘G’ rated EPC obtained by the tenant may place an obligation upon the landlord to carry out improvement works in order to bring a sub-standard property up to the minimum ‘E’ rating. Equally, landlords should ensure that sufficient rights are reserved in new leases to enable them to enter the premises in order to carry out any works that may be required.
Where existing leases contain breaks which may be effective after 1 April 2018, we would advise landlords to establish that the EPC rating of the property is ‘E’ or above. Again, if this was found to be sub-standard it would place an obligation on the landlord to carry out improvements to enable the property to be re-let. Tenants will no doubt appreciate that this situation could also assist them during negotiations with the landlord over whether or not to exercise a break.
For ‘F’ or ‘G’ rated properties that are subject to rent reviews occurring after 1 April 2018, whilst a letting might not be possible in the real world without energy efficiency improvements being carried out, a number of questions may arise in the hypothetical world of the rent review:
- Where the lease provides an assumption that the tenant has complied with its covenants and/or statutory obligations, this would effectively result in an assumed increase in the EPC rating to ‘E’. In this case, the landlord of a sub-standard property may seek to achieve a higher rent than that which might ordinarily be possible.
- A tenant may argue that the rental value should be reduced because the landlord will not, in reality, be able to let a sub-standard property.
- Where the cost of energy efficiency improvements carried out by the landlord is recoverable through a service charge, the tenant may seek to adjust their rental bid to reflect this situation.
It is therefore essential for both property owners and tenants alike to consider the impact the MEES regulations will have on future lease events.
Rapleys can help with this and if you require any further information, please contact Tim Holt.
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.”
Claire joined Rapleys in 2002 bringing 15 years experience in the IT service provider industry to the business, having predominately worked in IT solutions and database administration.
Claire is a principal surveyor delivering services across a number of commercial portfolios and leads the database management for all corporate clients. She has led the set-up of databases and extranet portals for various key clients. Claire delivers high quality account management and is a superb communicator whose focus is on maintaining open and positive relationships with clients, tenants, occupants and landlords alike.
Heading up Rapleys’ TRAMPS database management, Claire deals directly with IT, property accounting and service charge management in corporate real estate services.
More recently she has developed Rapleys’ new facilities management service offering.
A common project objective is completing construction work as quickly as possible, but it is key to choose an appropriate form of construction that optimises time on site without compromising the quality of the design or the end product. Modular construction is the quickest means of delivering a new building and, with the latest technical innovations, is also capable of delivering high quality.
Modular construction, which involves buildings being constructed off site with pre-fabricated components, became popular after the Second World War when there was huge demand for new buildings – particularly dwellings – to replace bomb damaged structures.
While modular and pre-fabricated construction successfully satisfied the requirement for buildings to be completed quickly, a common perception was that the quality of finish, aesthetic appearance and durability were not so readily achieved. This point of view continued during the following decades with people typically associating modular construction with poor quality buildings such as cold, damp and draughty temporary classrooms.
However, over recent years technical innovation and advancements in design and production techniques have meant that modular buildings can now be bigger, more flexible and achieve higher aesthetic and quality standards. This has resulted in a resurgence in both popularity and acceptance.
A high profile recent example of the speed with which modular buildings can be completed is the temporary school, known as KAA2, which was required to accommodate 960 pupils following the Grenfell Tower fire. The new school, constructed of 210 modular units, was completed by modular experts, Portakabin, just 13 weeks after project inception.
While speed of construction on site remains the main advantage of modular buildings over more traditional forms of construction, the other benefits typically include:
- More programme certainty with construction being less susceptible to adverse weather conditions
- Improved quality control achieved through standardisation, repetition and fabrication processes being undertaken in a factory controlled environment
- Reduced cost through supply chain management, economies of scale and reduction of waste
- Brand consistency – particularly appealing for occupiers with a corporate identity eg. restaurant and retail chains
- Improved sustainability and environmental credentials resulting from reduced resource inputs and less waste material – the charity WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) has reported that off-site fabrication can reduce waste on site by up to 90% when compared to traditional construction
- Provide suitable temporary accommodation on sites where major refurbishment or redevelopment is to take place on owner occupied buildings
While modular construction does provide clear benefits, there are also downsides that need to be fully considered and mitigated:
- Rigorous pre-planning is required to ensure that a coordinated and integrated fabrication and construction sequence is agreed at the earliest opportunity.
- Before fabrication commences, the design should be checked to ensure compliance with the brief. Design changes during fabrication, or worse still on-site, will be increasingly costly.
- A lack of coordination during the design and installation stages will lead to delays and cost increases that will negate the benefits of implementing a modular approach.
There are also other ways this construction method can be utilised if full modularity is not appropriate or viable. Elements of prefabrication, such as bathroom and kitchen pods, can be incorporated into more traditional building designs to derive some of the pros without the cons.
We regularly help clients find the best form of construction for their projects and project manage the instruction through to completion. If you would like any help or advice on your next construction project, please contact Alastair Bliss.
Chloe joined Rapleys in 2013 after graduating with a Masters in International Planning from the University College of London. In 2016, she gained her town planning chartership and is now an Associate working within a range of sectors including automotive and roadside, industrial and distribution, office, residential and retail. Specifically, Chloe is also responsible for overseeing planning matters on a portfolio of sites on behalf of BP Oil (UK) Ltd.
She specialises in development management, completing site appraisals, policy representations, planning statements, and preparing and managing planning applications and appeals. Over the years, Chloe has been able to establish beneficial working relationships with technical sub-consultants which have provided her clients with cost savings. Notable clients that Chloe has worked with include Associated British Foods, Bellcross Homes, BP Oil (UK) Ltd, Frontier Estates Ltd, Linden Homes, Lookers Plc, and The Jockey Club.
Chloe can offer carefully considered professional consultancy advice and has extensive experience in recruiting for and leading on project teams to promote and protect her clients’ interests.
Alan has many years experience in dealing with rating valuations of all types of commercial property from both the public and private sector.
Alan has appeared before the Valuation Tribunal on many occasions, acting as Advocate and Expert Witness.
Having worked extensively on both sides of the rating fence, Alan has a thorough understanding of the complexities of rating and the various ways that clients’ rates liabilities can be minimised.
Alan joined Rapleys in 2006, having previously been a partner at Fuller Peiser and a director at Evans & Payne from 1989 until he left in 2006.
Alun is responsible for a wide range of development related issues, including urban regeneration projects, site disposals, site acquisitions for property developers, development audits/appraisals and agency advice. He has considerable experience in setting up joint ventures.
Alun has extensive knowledge across all sectors of the market including residential disposals and acquisitions, food and non-food retail schemes, industrial and office developments and in particular has been involved in a number of major mixed-use developments.
Alun joined Rapleys in 1997 and was elected a partner in the development team in 2000. Prior to this he worked at Railtrack Property and the British Rail Property Board.
Angus has over 20 years experience and heads up the development team. He has a wide range of development experience including mixed use developments, disposals and acquisitions, development audits/appraisals and providing agency advice. He also has considerable experience in development management, taking projects through the development process from inception to delivery.
Angus is active in a number of sectors including residential, retail, industrial, office and mixed use developments. Angus joined Rapleys in 2004 having previously worked as Head of Development Sales in the South of England for Network Rail, where he was responsible for disposing of Network Rail surplus land assets and promoting and delivering major station developments.
Demand for care homes throughout the UK remains very strong despite the fragmented nature of the market. The majority of development activity is in the ‘for profit’ sector and is aimed at private customers in the more affluent parts of the country.
Demand for additional care home beds is predicted to rise steadily over the next decade with some experts suggesting a requirement of close to 7000 new places per annum, reflecting the UK’s ageing population.
With this underlying and consistent demand it is unsurprising that care home investors and developers are actively seeking new sites in good regional locations across the country.
Operators typically offer a range of care options for customers. These include; nursing care, dementia care, residential care, day care and personal care. The main differences between these types of care home is the level and quality of care provided, although some of the larger homes will provide a range of care solutions under one roof. The basic principle being that the higher the level of care required the higher the annual cost.
Care home development
The majority of new care home developments have a capacity of between 60 and 100 beds with associated car parking. In planning terms it is a C2 use classification and in general terms it can be regarded as a ‘soft’ planning use owing to the low traffic generation and the general nature of the use itself. Care homes are also employment generating (unlike standard housing) and this can assist with change of use arguments on former employment sites. Typically, the more intensive the care provided the higher the employment generated.
The high consumer demand and current under-supply has resulted in an increasing number of developers seeking new opportunities for care home development, which in turn has led to an increase in prices being paid for new opportunities. The requirements are typically 1-3 acres in area and can be located on the edge of town centres or suburban locations in areas with strong financial demographics.
Prominence is not essential but sites with good frontage to main roads and close to local amenities are highly desirable. Some examples of suitable properties include former car dealerships, large pubs, and industrial premises.
Rapleys has been successful in identifying and acquiring a number of sites on behalf of care home developers and we urgently seek additional development opportunities. If you have any surplus land/sites that would be suitable for a care home please contact Alun Jones.
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.
The new Mayor of London has issued his draft ‘Homes for Londoners: Affordable Housing & Viability SPG 2016’ for public consultation. It is the first formal guidance document issued by the new Mayor since his election earlier this year, and represents the first steps towards a new London Plan (which he hopes to have adopted by 2019).
It does not go as far as his manifesto pledges for all new schemes to provide 50% affordable housing, although this figure is retained as a city-wide target. Beyond this, the details of the SPG do not come as a surprise and follow on from the aspirations of the London Borough Development Viability Protocol published earlier this year.
The SPG focuses on affordable housing and viability and includes four distinct parts: background and approach; the threshold approach to viability appraisals; detailed guidance on viability assessments; and a specific approach to Build to Rent schemes. Whilst it is currently just in draft and, even if it is adopted, it cannot introduce new policy, it nevertheless provides relatively detailed guidance for Local Authorities in decision making.
Given that more than half of London boroughs are Labour controlled, one can expect many of them to start referring to it in pre- and post-application discussions in short order. Further, for schemes that are referable to the Mayor, it provides a clear indication of the Greater London Authority’s attitude to any affordable housing offer.
The overarching ambition is to boost the overall supply of new homes by making the planning system clearer, quicker and more consistent, and speed up the process for schemes that deliver higher levels of affordable housing. It outlines a carrot and stick approach in that it will aim to reward those developers who deliver 35% affordable housing or more but makes the viability process and subsequent review mechanisms more onerous for those schemes that propose less than 35%.
The Mayor’s view is that the national Vacant Building Credit (VBC) policy should not apply within London – not surprising, under the circumstances, but it will be interesting to see how this pans out given the Government’s ongoing commitment to VBC.
There is a clear drive for all Financial Viability Assessments (FVA) to be made available to the public. Applicants will have the opportunity to argue that limited elements should be kept undisclosed, but the clear onus is on the applicant to make this case.
The Mayor’s preference for using “Existing Use Value Plus” as the comparable Benchmark Land Value when assessing the viability of a proposed scheme is explicit in the SPG. The premium above Existing Use Value will be considered on a site-by-site basis.
The SPG provides specific guidance on Build to Rent developments, recognising that they differ to the traditional Build for Sale model. There is guidance on the requirements for covenant and clawback arrangements if units are sold out of the Build to Rent sector. It also sets out an alternative pathway which applicants can choose to follow that promotes London Living Rents (or similar discounted Market Rent).
Comments on the draft SPG need to be with the Mayor by 28 February. If you would like to discuss the impact of the draft SPG on your proposals, or would like our help in getting your views across in representations, please contact Nick Fell, Partner and Head of Affordable Housing & Viability, email@example.com or Jason Lowes, Partner in the Planning Team, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Chancellor presented the Autumn Statement on Wednesday 23 November with some announcements impacting the property and development markets. Rapleys wraps up the key points below.
Despite including housing in one of the four key areas to be targeted by the £23bn of spending generated from the NPIF to 2021/22, the Statement failed to deliver a silver bullet for housing delivery. We will await the much anticipated Housing White Paper to deliver the detail.
The focus on investment in traditional and technological infrastructure is, however, welcomed. It is often these areas which act as ‘pinch points’ in themselves for both economic and residential development capacity. The commitment of £2.3bn investment in infrastructure to unlock potential for 100,00 new homes in areas of high demand, can only be welcomed as a fiscal aid to support viability. However, it’s questionable whether the proposed £23,000 per plot is an efficient approach.
Similarly, the support to increase affordable housing delivery is much needed but there was an absence of detail in how this will represent an effective approach in light of the 1m home target over the parliament, which is well short of its objective.
Of potential significance is the commitment to relax restrictions on government grants to allow providers to deliver a wider range of housing, which could translate into a stimulus in starter home delivery and Private Rented Sector accommodation.
However, it is the commitment to the balance of budget and investment, with focus on new infrastructure delivery to provide an environment to support economic and residential growth which will be the headline of the statement for the development industry, alongside the requirement for Local Councils to make tough decisions on the location of development.
Ben Read | 07747 757639
The Chancellor’s announcements in relation to the housing market appear to be shifting away from the previous Chancellor’s almost entire focus on home ownership, to a more balanced housing market. The RICS have reacted positively to the announcements on increased investment for affordable housing, particularly for affordable rent.
Alongside the £2.3bn to be spent on infrastructure, the government also committed to an additional £1.4bn to be spent on affordable housing, which is in addition to the £4.7bn that was previously announced. The money will help fund an additional 40,000affordable homes. The Government has also lifted the restrictions limiting the funding to homeownership products. This is a clear indication of a shift back towards a more balanced housing market to take into account the decline in home ownership and increasing importance of good quality rental stock.
Nick Fell | 07964 558697
For business rates, there were limited announcements from the Chancellor. The most revealing announcement was confirmation that rates bills will go up by a maximum of 43% year on year in 2017/18, and a further 32% the year after for those RVs over £100,000. These were pitched as a saving from 45% and 50% respectively, but these were figures out to consultation only and still represent increases more than 20 times the current rate of inflation—once again leaving businesses short changed.
He confirmed a previously announced scheme offering rate relief to the hard pressed Oil and Gas exploration sector, and a doubling of Rural Rate Relief to 100% from 50%. The announcement that new fibre optic broadband infrastructure will benefit from 100% relief for 5 years will benefit BT Openreach significantly, but very few others.
Alan Watson | 07917 352428
The continued focus of the Autumn Statement on the development of housing indicates that the trend of existing office and industrial floorspace and land supply being lost to residential use is set to continue. The consequence will be growth in office and industrial land prices and a strong growth in rents.
Colin Steele | 07860 749034
The key impact to the Scottish market will come via the City Deal funding announcement which will bring economic growth and development to infrastructure and strategic projects. A City Deal agreement for Edinburgh is confirmed, proposals from Perth and Dundee are being considered and talks will begin shortly on Stirling.
The Chancellor stating that every city in Scotland will be on course for a City Deal gives local areas greater powers and freedoms to help support economic growth, create jobs or invest in local projects.
Neil Gray | 07467 955228
The Chancellor stated that insurance premium tax (standard rate) will increase from 10% to 12% which will see this type of tax doubling within 2 years. This will lead to additional expenditure on buildings insurance and we expect those with large property portfolios to be significantly hit.
The announced increase in the national living wage to £7.50 from April 2017 will also cause an impact to property management costs as it is highly likely that we will see contractors (receptionist, security, landscaping providers etc) passing this cost onto their customers meaning landlords and tenants should prepare themselves for increased service charge budgets and expenditure.
However, the Carbon Price Support will be capped to 2020 which should reduce the increase seen on energy bills for end consumers, helping reduce the expenditure seen on utilities.
Mark Coles | 07785 522956
Please contact a member of the team if you would like more information on the Autumn Statement and the impact it may have on your property or portfolio.
More permitted development on the way
Further changes to permitted development will come into force on 6 April, the most important being:
Office to residential
As previously announced, the right to change the use of most office space to residential without planning permission is to become permanent. It will continue to be subject to a prior approval procedure, albeit this will be extended to consider the impact of noise on new residents.
Current non-geographic exceptions will remain in perpetuity, but geographic exceptions (including Central London and Manchester city centre) will expire in May 2019, although one can expect many of the local authorities affected to promote Article 4 directions to retail the restrictions beyond this.
Interestingly, there is no mention at present about the idea mooted last autumn of extending permitted development to include demolition and redevelopment of office buildings for housing. This was quite a radical proposal, raising many questions about how it might be implemented – the government may feel that it needs more time to consider this.
Light industrial to residential
A new three-year temporary permitted development right for changes of use from light industrial to residential will come into force on 1 October 2017. Beyond its temporary nature, there are a number of other restrictions imposed, including:
- A floorspace limit of buildings less than 500sqm;
- Evidence will be required that the building was used solely for light industrial purposes on 19 March 2014 (or, if the light industrial use was established but the building was vacant in March 2014, the date the building was last in that use would be relevant), and
- Whether the site is identified as being particularly sensitive (for example, listed buildings, scheduled monuments or in a site of special scientific interest).
- Prior approval will be required relative to flood risk, contamination and transportation considerations. In addition, the prior approval process will include consideration of the impact of the change of use on surrounding light industrial operations, where these are deemed to be “important”. Prior approval must be granted before 1 October 2020, and development must be completed within three years of the prior approval date
Office to residential conversions have proved popular with developers – according to government figures, almost 4,000 conversions were approved between April 2014 and June last year and no doubt the extension of this right in perpetuity will also be welcomed. However, the change of use from light industrial floorspace may not prove as popular, given the restrictions improved (not least on floorspace), and the level of additional work that might be required to render sites fit for habitation. Further, it will also be interesting to see how local authorities will define areas that are considered “important” for light industrial use – from past experience, some local authorities may take a very broad view.
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The Scottish Government has issued Draft Planning Delivery Advice on “Housing and Infrastructure”. This has come as a result of the “root and branch” review of Scottish planning. The Government has commissioned a separate study on housing and infrastructure to tackle one of the practical issues of the current shortage of housing.
The draft advice is concerned with improving housing and infrastructure delivery primarily through the development plan process, but it will also be a material consideration in the determination of planning applications and appeals. Once finalised, it will replace Planning Advice Note (PAN) 2/2010.
Developers have found delivery of housebuilding in Scotland has become increasingly challenging in recent years. There has been a reduction in completion rates and shortage of deliverable sites coming forward. This guidance seeks to improve the way in which this is handled.
The document sets out that there should be a lesser focus on numbers of houses planned. Instead a stronger emphasis be given to delivery of houses, providing levels of what is required to meet current demand, but also to prepare for the future in places which can successfully evolve and grow over time. The advice addresses the issue of effectiveness (i.e. how a planned site performs) and in doing so identifies a number of criteria against which the effectiveness of a proposed housing site will be assessed. The most notable change is the removal of marketability as one of the effectiveness criteria. Is this an admission that previously identified sites were not attractive for housebuilders and buyers?
In terms of Infrastructure, emphasis is given to partnership working, with a focus on working with stakeholders and agencies in “Delivery Groups”. The advice states that the costing of infrastructure developments should be explored as early as possible to ensure that the correct funding is in place to achieve delivery. The advice suggests this can be done, in a number of traditional methods, for example, Planning Agreement, Developer Contribution, Scale or Kind, but also new approaches such as Cumulative Contributions, thought to be particularly useful for strategic projects.
We consider this a welcome approach given that the most attractive sites currently appear to be smaller but more deliverable.
Rapleys is working with a number of landowners, housebuilders, and housing providers in Scotland and we look forward to putting our practical experience to use on these projects when the new guidance is adopted.
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Hot on the heels of the consultation on changes to the NPPF, the Government reforms of the planning system continue. Specifically, two further consultations were launched late last week on initiatives to speed up the planning system and bring forward new housing. Comments are being accepted on both consultations until the 15 April 2016.
Nationwide changes to simplify and speed up the system
Under the seemingly innocuous title of “Technical Consultation on Implementation of Planning Changes” the Government is seeking views on some potentially radical proposals, not least “fast-tracking” and introducing competition to the processing of planning applications (although decision-making will stay with local councils). Other matters include:
- Further proposed details for the procedures for “permission in principle” (PiP) and subsequent “technical details consent” (TDC). This includes an indication of the matters to be addressed by each process – location, use and amount of residential development will be addressed at PiP stage, with matters such as design and infrastructure at TDC stage. Additional detail includes proposals relative to timescales and the scope of information required to make applications.
- Additional detail relative to “brownfield registers”, which local authorities will need to prepare and should include all brownfield land except land that has no realistic prospect of being used for housing.
- Options to raise planning application fees, but linked to performance.
- More detailed proposals on the circumstances under which the Government would intervene in the local plan process.
The consultation document is wide-ranging and begins to add much-needed detail to the operation of the Housing and Planning Bill. Nevertheless, gaps remain on how the Government’s flagship planning legislation will be implemented and everyone involved in the planning system (and particularly local authorities) will be looking at future detail with a magnifying glass.
Building upwards in London
In the interests of reducing the take up of green belt land for housing, the Government and Greater London Authority want to make it easier to add height to existing buildings in London, suggesting the following options:
- Permitted development, under a prior approval procedure, for additional storeys up to the height of an adjoining roofline but there will be limits and exceptions, and neighbours will still need to be consulted;
- Local development orders, in specific areas to be defined;
- A new policy in the London Plan to support additional storeys, where a site specific planning permission application is still required.
Although the proposals are to be welcomed, it is arguable how much of a change this measure represents, given the levels of identified housing need in the capital.
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