Lodders welcomed guests to its annual Property Seminar on 19 November, providing a forum for clients and professional contacts from across the property sector to come together and discuss the topics of the day. Conversations were fuelled by engaging talks, from market overviews to exploring a number of topical issues.
The keynote speaker was Jon Bellfied of the Barberry Group. Jon gave an insight into his background, the roots of the Barberry Group and anecdotes of interesting deals they have done over the years including some iconic properties in the region including Hotel Du Vin in Birmingham, offices in Colmore Square and Colmore Row, apartments in Harborne and Coventry, and industrial units in Burton on Trent and Swansea. Jon gave an insight as to how the Barberry Group approach both the challenges and opportunities of the property market.
Ashley Hollinshead of Deloitte gave a useful overview of issues to consider surrounding property ownership. Ashley considered the implications of different property holding structures and how to maximise the availability of reliefs and efficiency for inheritance tax, capital gains tax and stamp duty land tax. Ashley also gave a stark reminder for those buying and selling commercial properties of the importance of capital allowances and the need for the parties to deal with these appropriately before, during and after the sale. HMRC have put a stop on the potential mismatch of the approach of sellers and buyers, with 1 April having seen the end of the transitional period and the need for the parties to be proactive in addressing capital allowances.
Alastair Frew, Partner in Lodders’ Real Estate department, gave an illustrative insight into some recent case law developments on some very real and practical issues affecting those in the room:
• the Supreme Court’s judgement on the distinction between locals using land “as of right” or “by right” which defeated the residents’ application to register a playing field as a village green (R (on the application of North Yorkshire County Council));
• whether a landowner could be held responsible for damage caused by an overhanging tree falling on to railway lines (Stage Coach South Western Trains Ltd v Hind and Steele);
• the interrelation between a Local Plan, Section 106 obligations and the Community Infrastructure Levy in a judicial review of a local authority’s grant of planning permission (R (on the application of Hampton Bishop Parish Council) v Herefordshire Council);
• the ability of a local authority to insist on payment of a commuted sum for maintenance of street lights despite a Section 38 Agreement being entered into for adoption by the local authority of the responsibility to maintain them going forward (R (on the application of Redrow Homes Ltd) v Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council); and
• the ability of an asset of community value to cause a planning decision to be overturned (R (on the application of East Meon Forge and Cricket Ground Protection Association) v East Hampshire DC).
Property agents Savills treated us to two speakers. Simon Horan gave an update on the current trends in the residential market, with a particular focus on trends in the Midlands. Simon considered the effect of different constraints on development, suggesting that factors such as land availability and prices have remained fairly constant over the last year; availability of labour and materials have grown significantly as constraints; and planning delays have reduced slightly. Simon highlighted the emergence of the private rented sector as a preference of those finding their feet on the property ladder and a growing opportunity for investors. This reflected Simon’s talk at last years’ Property Seminar at which Simon hinted at the growth of the private rented sector in the UK, which has traditionally not taken as large a proportion of the market as in other European states. This trend continues.
Michael Davies, Planning Director with Savills, drew the talks to a close with the Community Infrastructure Levy. Beginning with an overview of its implementation to date across the regions, Michael then moved on to consider the trade-offs between the Community Infrastructure Levy, Section 106 agreements and affordable housing policies, and also commented on the implementation across the West Midlands. He then concluded with a countdown to the deadline of 6 April 2015 for local authorities, as those who have not already implemented a Charging Schedule will from then be subject to restrictions limiting their ability to pool Section 106 contributions to fund infrastructure. Failure by local authorities and government to address the need to have suitable mechanisms in place before April will have a significant impact on both housing and infrastructure delivery.
For more information please contact Rebecca Freeman on 01789 206924 or by email.