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.
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’ property and planning consultancy continues to show the ongoing growth of its business by announcing this week that the Cambridge team will relocate to larger premises, and therefore increase their profile, just nine months after opening in the city.
Remaining in the CB1 business district was of upmost importance to Rapleys and its new and existing client base. The practice has taken a private office at 50-60 Station Road; a modern, high quality environment, next to the station.
The new office will house, amongst other teams, the practices’ Town Planning, Development, Building Consultancy, Business Space and Automotive & Roadside departments.
Stuart Harris, Head of Cambridge Office comments: “Whilst Rapleys’ arrival in Cambridge was far from any ‘cold start’ with our long standing presence in the county, we have been delighted by the traction gained in our opening months in the city. This has necessitated a fairly rapid expansion of both the size and quality of space available to us.”
Robert Clarke, Senior Partner, adds: “I am very pleased with the new office at Station Road and look forward to welcoming our clients to the innovative space. Our move is a direct response to client needs. We are excited by the future prospects in Cambridge and the wider region.”
Full contact details for the Rapleys Cambridge office:
Featured in Commercial News.
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.
Archie joined Rapleys affordable housing & viability team in 2016 and was promoted to associate in 2018. Previously he worked at Tuckerman Commercial for 3 years, qualifying as a general practice surveyor before moving to F3Group in 2015 to focus on residential development.
Archie specialises in providing development valuation advice on for residential and mixed use sites, with a focus on affordable housing and development viability. He has been involved with residential projects across southern England, including sites in Croydon, Slough and Bristol.
Archie 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.
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.
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.
Rapleys is delighted to welcome several new faces this month, including three new partners to the business – Simon Matley, Will Maby and Adam de Acetis.
Simon Matley joins the Manchester office working within the Building Consultancy & Project Management team and brings a wealth of experience across all services within the sector. Combining experience and innovative approaches Simon is sure to assist in further expanding the services of the team over the North West and far beyond. Simon commented: “I am very much looking forward to working for a company focused on consultancy services and delivering a more independent interdisciplinary approach to clients. Together with my experience in the North West and Manchester markets I am excited to apply a national approach to business development giving the clients the consistent approach to service that is at the heart of the Rapleys ethos. Exciting times ahead!”
Will Maby joins the Viability & Affordable Housing department, which is a service increasingly in demand at Rapleys, to support Nick Fell and the wider team. The specialist experience Will has garnered during his career to date will be invaluable to Rapleys’ clients, focusing on strategic valuation advice to private developers as well as registered providers. Will adds; “I am delighted to have joined Rapleys in what is an exciting period of growth for the business. I am very much looking forward to contributing to the further expansion of the Viability & Affordable Housing team.”
Also joining the business, Adam de Acetis brings unrivalled asset and property management experience to the Corporate & Investor Management team based in London. Adam will identify and execute added value opportunities for Rapleys existing clients, whilst providing senior resource to generate and support the growth of the client base. Adam comments: “Rapleys are at an exciting stage with their positioning in the market place. They have an excellent platform and superb people and I look forward to being involved in the next phase of Rapleys progression”.
Robert Clarke, Senior Partner, added: “I am delighted to welcome Simon, Will and Adam to the business. They are proven professionals and will, undoubtedly, add value to our client base, whilst further extending our service lines across the UK. Their appointments underscore the ongoing growth, and reach, of Rapleys.”
Jamie joined Rapleys’ development consultancy team in April 2016 as a graduate surveyor from Oxford Brookes University where he studied Planning and Property Development. He now sits in the affordable housing & viability team in the London office where he assists landowners, developers and housing associations.
Jamie provides development valuation advice for residential, mixed use and ‘build to rent’ schemes on both small scale developments and larger urban extensions. His work is generally focused in the south east of England but he has worked on sites in Newcastle and York. Jamie works on detailed development appraisals to assess scheme viability and deliverability while providing affordable housing strategy advice. He also provides agency advice in relation to disposal of development sites and S106 ‘package deals’. Jamie’s client base consists of a range of landowners, residential developers and housing associations.
Jamie became accredited into the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in November 2019, and his interests outside of work include cricket, rugby and exploring the highlands of Scotland.
We are pleased to confirm the following promotions (effective May 2018):
Simon Harbour – Building Consultancy & Project Management
Nick Fell – Affordable Housing & Viability
Neil Jones – Town Planning
Richard Huteson – Town Planning
James Porter – Building Consultancy & Project Management
Colin Arnott – Corporate & Investor Management
Alex Chambers – Building Consultancy & Project Management
Robert Clarke, Senior Partner, adds ‘I am delighted to announce these promotions. They underline the growth and ever increasing profile of the practice. I look forward to sharing our onward journey with them.’
This year, the Mayor of London formalised the Homes for Londoners Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) which aims to make more homes affordable to Londoners on low and middle incomes with a long term strategic target for half of all new homes built to be genuinely affordable.
The SPG provides a key first step towards delivering more affordable homes through the planning system and provides guidance on delivering existing London plan policy.
The guidance sets out the mayor’s approach to “call ins”, where insufficient affordable housing has been provided or there has been insufficient scrutiny of viability information. The Mayor’s approach to transparency of affordable housing viability information is also detailed and it is explained how grant funding is going to be used to increase the level of affordable housing.
The SPG details the ‘Threshold’ approach which will be employed by Local Authorities evaluating viability. The approach is divided into two pathways, the Fast Track Route and the Viability Tested Route.
The Fast Track Route applies to schemes proposing to deliver at least 35% affordable housing on-site which will not be required to provide a viability assessment and will be subject to early stage review only.
The more onerous Viability Tested Route applies to schemes proposing to provide less than 35% affordable housing on-site which will be required to submit a Full Viability Assessment and will be subject to both an early stage and late stage review. The SPG confirms that review mechanisms will be stronger and more consistent, and the guidance supports the use of Existing Use Value Plus as a benchmark land value.
Requirements for developers
The SPG clearly sets out the affordable housing requirements that developers should expect to deliver on potential development sites and it is hoped that developers will bid for land and development sites with these new policy considerations in mind. The Mayor has already demonstrated that the Greater London Authority will adopt a tough approach on new developments that do not adhere to the new planning policy as demonstrated by the rejection of the new development plans for the former Scotland Yard Site due to unacceptable levels of affordable housing.
Delivering affordable housing
Developers must, therefore, expect to deliver affordable housing on new build residential developments where it is viable and it is here that Rapleys can add value for developers. Rapleys provides guidance and advice throughout viability and 106 agreement negotiations, and assists with placing affordable tenure units with Registered Providers (RPs) or commuting off site payments.
With vast experience dealing with RPs across the UK, we can advise on their expectations, act as liaison, assist with contract negotiations and draft heads of terms, ensuring that developers secure the best possible deal on the best terms when delivering their units.
For further information and advice, please contact Nick Fell.
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.