Lodders Annual Property Seminar: The government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful commission that is set to tackle the challenge of poor quality design and build of new homes, is amongst several consultations set to shape the future of housebuilding, according to the new Senior Planning and Development Director of Bloor Homes.
Speaking at Lodders Annual Property Seminar – one of the Midlands’ flagship annual seminars for the region’s property and real estate sectors – Bloor Homes’ Spencer Claye said that the recently launched commission that will be chaired by Sir Roger Scruton, indicates the government’s vision for the country’s housebuilders to build new homes to a higher standard.
He said that this theme is consistent with a number of government announcements this year, including the recently published Letwin Report, that as well as highlighting the need for increasing diversity in the type, style, size of new homes to increase appeal to the range of buyers, also looked at how long housebuilders are taking to build new homes and reach government targets.
The 2018 Lodders Property Seminar attracted 140 delegates from across the Midlands to its new venue, The Ardencote at Claverdon.
Beauty in the built environment
In his address, Mr Claye explained that one of the main aims of the Building Better, Building Beautiful commission is to advocate for beauty in the built environment, by developing workable ideas to help inform planning and design of new settlements, together with practical ideas for the infrastructure and release of land for housing.
Delegates heard that whilst land deals are taking longer to get over the line, the Midlands housing market continues to perform well. Highlighting headline findings from recognised housing research by Savills and Knight Frank, Mr Claye explained that house prices across the Midlands are performing well compared to other UK regions: these are up by 4.4% in the West Midlands, and by 3% in the East Midlands, according to Savills’ 2018 figures.
“House prices across the Midlands continue to slowly rise, only outstripped by northern regions,” he said, “and should bounce back from 2020 with an estimated 5% annual growth.”
He explained that the shortage of homes is a major factor in house price growth, but that affordability for the majority continues to be an issue: “The average salary required to buy a house is now £53,826, up by almost £9,000 since 2015 and more than double the average annual wage in the UK. England’s total housing need backlog has reached 4 million homes – housebuilders must continue to build homes in-line with government and political party predictions.”
Net biodiversity gain
Creative ecological solutions increasingly figure in housebuilders’ development and planning schemes, to deliver ‘net biodiversity gain’. “Ecological and environmental considerations have become a vital part of property, housing and land development schemes in the last twenty years,” Dr Philip Femor, MD of consultancy Middlemarch Environmental, told delegates.
“Through habitat creation, hydroecological design and development of contaminated land, habitats that offset the biodiversity loss can be designed into housing development schemes to maximise a development.”
He explained: “Many of the UK’s largest housebuilders and developers are placing increasing importance and focus on biodiversity net gain. Ecologists are today an integral part of the project team. There is more emphasis on highly skilled services, such as Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitat Regulations Assessment and an increase in the introduction of biodiversity offsetting metrics.
“For instance, a hectare of agricultural land can be given four times its biodiversity holding value through good design,” he said.
Technical knowledge & commercial appreciation
Lodders Real Estate practice, the largest in the Midlands with 30 specialist real estate, commercial property, planning, construction and highways legal experts – including eight partners – was commended as ‘Top Tier’ in the latest Legal 500 rankings. It works with many of the UK’s largest commercial and residential property developers, with recent deals for housebuilders in 2018 average 10,000 units each.
Head of the Lodders Real Estate Group Mark Miller explained: “Our partner-led approach and breadth of expertise and legal specialisms, especially in strategic land transactions, sets us apart from other regional law firms.”
Amongst the deals completed by the Group this year is acting for the promoter of a 200-acre development site for the construction of 2,000 homes in Worcestershire, acting for a landowner in the planning and option agreement of 3,000 homes in a new garden settlement in Berkshire, acting for a housebuilder in the acquisition of a multi-phase residential development site of 2,000 units, and the sale of a grade II listed country house and estate for £15million.
“Using a combination of our specialist technical knowledge and commercial appreciation, the Lodders real estate practice is ideally placed to deal with complex property transactions,” added Mark.
Caption for main photograph: Speakers at Lodders Annual Property Seminar 2018 were (left to right) George Campion (Lodders), Mark Miller (Lodders), Tom Docker (Middlemarch), Spencer Claye (Bloor Homes), Alastair Frew( Lodders), Phil Fermor (Middlemarch), Jane Senior (Lodders).