Brady Solicitors’ Head of Real Estate Development Julie Carr attended the Movers & Shakers Residential Breakfast in Leeds on Friday 1 July. Here, Julie shares her views on the mood, one week post-Brexit, amongst the speakers and property professionals present.
“Despite the fact that the confidence in UK PLC seemed to fall below 50% from the show of hands, most of the audience had confidence that we would get past this period of uncertainty without too much pain.
Private rented sector (PRS)
“PRS has not really taken off in Leeds, but this could stem to some extent from overdevelopment of flats for the young professional demographic before the recession.
“Interestingly, there is about a six week waiting list to get a flat in Leeds, (Guy Ackernley, Urban Splash), whereas in Manchester PRS is taking hold with around 3,000 apartments available to let and only about 50 on the market for sale.”
Focus on quality
“Chris Thompson, MD of Citu was of the view that building quality properties that people want is the key, rather than overbuilding of a single product, as in the case of the Leeds apartments. He reported that Citu will this month incorporate its own off-site factory into its build project. The production of timber frames in a factory will reduce the level of skilled workers needed on building sites, but admittedly requires an upfront outlay and will take some time to get the processes streamlined to make future costs savings in the build project.
“In a similar vein, Guy Ackernley said Urban Splash has several developments completed and underway that incorporate modular, off-site manufactured, construction methods.”
State of the housing market
“There was much talk about the state of the housing market and the need to open some areas of greenbelt in Leeds, despite the objections of established local communities – some of which were themselves created from greenbelt releases in the mid to late 20th century…
“A reference to “nimbyism” was met by Counsellor Richard Lewis (Councillor and Executive Member for Regeneration, Transport and Planning, Leeds City Council) who said that developing in large swathes of the greenbelt countryside was a “politically explosive issue”.
“Cllr Lewis referred to a recent inspector’s planning report in relation to land at Wetherby that was at odds with planning policy. He said that aggressive developers are taking matters to appeal to get the decisions that they cannot achieve at local level and that this just creates more uncertainty and worry for locals.
“Warren Thompson, MD of Redrow Homes (Yorkshire), says his company builds 60% on brownfield and 40% greenfield but that it can be difficult to find enough brownfield land available for residential development sites. He said that of the average of 30 conditions placed on housing consents it takes approximately 22 weeks to discharge pre-conditions to starting on site, which obviously contributes to the problem of solving the housing shortage. Mr Thompson says that they have benefited from the Help to Buy (HTB) scheme and that 30% of their sales include an element of HTB.”
“We just have to get on with business”
“The winner of the best attitude of the morning has to go to Jo Miller, Chief Executive of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, who is of the view that there is no point waiting on London or anyone else to come up with policies for your area. Just get on with it! This attitude is one that she also embraced in response to the leave vote: we just have to get on with business.”
Julie Carr is Head of Real Estate Development at Brady Solicitors, providing a wide range of property law services and a commercially focused approach to all real estate matters. Clients benefit from an integrated and skilful approach throughout the life of a development site, from securing the land through to selling the completed homes.
Contact Julie Carr on 0115 985 3450 or click here to send an email.