Richard joined Rapleys as a Partner in 2020 to build a planning team in Cambridge. He works for both private clients and local authorities, securing planning permission for key growth and infrastructure projects. Richard’s projects are usually of a residential, care, office or industrial nature.

Richard undertakes a broad range of planning application and appeal work but has a particular focus on public inquiries, Examinations in Public (EiPs), environmental impact assessment, green belt cases and sustainable urban extensions. He also has extensive experience of planning enforcement matters and regularising unlawful development.

Richard is known for his inquiring and methodical approach. He is often involved from the earliest stages of a project in which he establishes the key project drivers and objectives and investigates and advises on the chosen site’s planning potential. Where potential is identified Richard devises the best strategy for realising it and ensures the effective implementation of that strategy.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 brought all existing EU law into UK law (“EU retained law”), to ensure that it would continue to have legal effect after Brexit, giving powers to Ministers to make secondary legislation (statutory instruments) to operationalise in a UK context. 

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has now published a policy paper to explain the latest changes to the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as previously amended) to make sure that the Regulations operate effectively following Brexit. The focus is on changes to the transfer of functions from the European Union (EU) to appropriate authorities within England and Wales. All other terms and processes within the 2017 Regulations remain unchanged and as such the existing guidance is still relevant.

In this context, the key points to note are:

1. The creation of a national site network within the UK comprising the protected sites already designated under the EU Natura 2000 network, and any new sites designated under these Regulations – this relates to Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs),

2. the establishment of management objectives for the national site network (the ‘network objectives’). These network objectives are to –

  • maintain or, where appropriate, restore habitats and species listed in Annexes I and II of the Habitats Directive to a favourable
  • conservation status (FCS) and contribute to ensuring, in their area of distribution, the survival and reproduction of wild birds and securing compliance with the overarching aims of the Wild Birds Directive.

3. arrangements for reporting on the implementation of the Regulations, given that the UK no longer provides reports to the European Commission – this principle of reporting is also built into the Environment Bill still making its way through the Parliament process,

4. arrangements for amending the schedules to the Regulations and the annexes to the Nature Directives that apply to the UK,

5. arrangements replacing the European Commission’s functions with regard to the imperative reasons of overriding public interest (IROPI) test where a plan or project affects a priority habitat or species, and last but by no means least,

6. an amended process for the designation of, or amendment to, SACs and SPAs, including notably, the inclusion of a process to allow the declassification of such sites. The process to classify and declassify sites is the same, the principles being to assess if –

  • the site continues to meet the criteria for designation, and
  • the site’s contribution to the achievement of the conservation of natural habitats and species has been irretrievably lost.

Importantly, where declassification is proposed, appropriate authorities must make sure the coherence of the national site network is maintained, and the network objectives are achieved in other ways, such as designating new SACs or SPAs. Hopefully, these requirements will ensure that the integrity of the sites is maintained and that their protection is not weakened, but as ever, time and implementation of the Regulations will tell.

For those in the development and environment protection business, all of this is certainly something to monitor in itself going forward, but also in the context of potential implications for the revisions to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process and consideration of planning applications in the locality of the designated sites.

For further advice and guidance in respect of the Habitat Regulations or EIA, please contact Sarah Smith, Planning Partner and EIA lead at Rapleys.

 

 

The Government published its Energy White Paper on 14 December 2020. The document determines how the UK will increase deployment of green energy sources in order to help meet the 2050 Net Zero Carbon target. 

Research shows that buildings in the UK are the second-largest source of carbon emissions and that 90% of homes in England rely on fossil fuels for heating, cooking and hot water. The cost of decarbonising the UK’s social housing stock by 2050 is estimated to be over £100 billion, nearly £3.4 billion per annum. As the sector continues to scale-up retrofit pilot schemes, integration of low carbon technologies in newbuilds and a wide range of other measures to increase SAP ratings, it is clear that social landlords’ asset management and development teams must prioritise delivery of the Net Zero Carbon agenda within their business plans now.

The Energy White Paper maps out how the Government intends to move the UK towards widescale adoption of clean energy over the next 10 years and beyond, both for existing and new buildings. It contains issues of key significance for the social housing sector, including:

  • Introduction of a Future Homes Standard by 2025 to ensure all new buildings are ‘Zero Carbon Ready’;
  • Consultation to determine if new homes built after 2025 should not be connected to the gas grid;
  • As many existing homes to reach EPC Band C as minimum by 2030;
  • Review of the current Decent Homes Standard to support achievement of the 2030 EPC Band C target;
  • £110m funding support for further retrofit pilot schemes and projects over the next 2 years;
  • Fuel Poverty Strategy for England to be released in early 2021;
  • Extended financial support to low income households via ECO funding and the Warm Homes Discount Scheme; and
  • Consultation to commence in 2021 on alternative fuel sources, emerging technologies and Heat Networks.

We know that Social Housing landlords are already investing significant resources and finances into meeting Building Safety and Compliance requirements, newbuild targets and continued repairs and maintenance work. Delivery of the Net Zero Carbon agenda is a massive challenge, but also an opportunity for the sector. It is vital that landlords develop plans using accurate information and expert advice to ensure they make the best decisions for residents and their business. Through our network of UK offices, Rapleys provide clients with expert Asset Management consultancy services. If we can be assistance, please contact Martin Gladwin, Head of Housing Consultancy.

As published in Property Week on the 12 November

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The Environment Bill, which was introduced to parliament last October, sets out measures for improving air quality, transforming waste management and protecting water resources. If it becomes law, it will have a big impact on developers, but the bill’s progress has encountered several delays, making it difficult to plan ahead. 

Sarah Smith, Town Planning Partner at Rapleys discusses the implications of the delays.

“The Environment Bill was drafted ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU. “Some 80% of the UK’s environmental legislation has been shaped by the EU over the last 30 years”

“As a response to Brexit, the Environment Bill is intended to set out a new environmental framework,” she says, adding that much of this is additional, as “many of the EU’s environmental protections have been transposed into UK law already”.

Read the article in full here.

Dan is an Associate in the town planning department and has over ten years’ experience as a Chartered Town Planner. He joined Rapleys in July 2018 following roles at Walsingham Planning (Ian Jewson Planning until a merger in 2016) and RPS.

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.

Notable clients that Dan has worked with since joining Rapleys include Crest Nicholson, Vistry Homes (previously Bovis Homes), and Places for People.

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 twenty years of experience of advising, managing and co-ordinating Environment Statements to accompany planning applications.

 

 

 

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
    – Investment/owner-occupied
    – Portfolio valuations
  • Valuation for;
    – Secured borrowing
    – Accounting purposes
    – Probate
  • Residential development appraisals
  • Monitoring and interim valuations during construction

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.

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations are due in six months time and are expected to have a significant impact for landlords and occupiers on private rented property in England and Wales.
From April 2018, the regulations will require all new lettings (including sub-lettings) to meet the minimum standard EPC rating of ‘E’.

The MEES regulations are likely to have the greatest impact on landlords of property, but occupiers will be affected too. These risks may impact lease event negotiations, investor/occupier demand, valuations and debt provision.

From 1st April 2018, the regulations will apply to the granting of a new lease and the renewal of existing leases. Landlords will be required to ensure compliance before the lease is granted.

From 1st April 2023, the regulations will apply to ALL privately rented property in scope of the regulations, including where a lease is already in place and a property is occupied.

Properties that do not require an EPC under current regulations will not be required to meet MEES (for example stand alone buildings less than 50m²). Moreover, MEES does not apply to short lettings (6 months or less) and lettings over 99 years or more.

MEES has a great potential to negatively impact property values as a consequence of:

  • Reduced ability to attract and retain occupiers
  • Reduced rental income
  • Increased voids
  • Additional capital required to bring the property up to standard.

Can you rely on your existing EPC?

A significant number of EPC’s were produced in 2008/9. Up until recently the requirements around the production of EPC’s was fairly loose, with a number of default values or assumptions being made. The quality of these early EPC’s is questionable. If you are reliant on an EPC produced between 2008 and 2015, then the risk of an inaccurate EPC is greater. The EPC could be poorly prepared which means the property falls foul of the MEES regulations unnecessarily.

Rapleys can help manage your MEES risk by:

  • Undertaking a risk assessment of your property or portfolio
  • Accurately assessing the current EPC rating of your property or portfolio
  • Providing strategic advice of how to meet the minimum required EPC rating
  • Aligning risk assessment with life cycle building data to enable informed strategy decisions
  • Providing advice on how MEES impact your dilapidations liability and claims.

For any further help on your EPC risk assessment, please contact us,