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A fast turnaround for English Heritage to avoid a void
When English Heritage needed to re-let a substantial property in February this year it wasn’t clear from which sector the next occupier would come. Add to this the first lockdown effective in March and there was a possibility of a long void.
Situated adjacent to the medieval and Tudor gem which is Eltham Palace, the property was originally built as a military school but had been used as offices and a language college in its lifetime.
Hindwoods agency team quickly established the suitability of the building, which benefits from parking and self-contained gardens, for a specialist school and tailored a marketing campaign accordingly.
Within a few weeks several offers came forward and a terms were agreed with a suitable occupier providing inclusive education opportunities to young people who have a diagnosis of Autism and related difficulties. The deal was completed by June.09 December 2020
Meet the team: Edward Dent
This month we’re talking to Edward Dent Head of Land and Residential Development. As well as what the job involves and his experiences as a developer, we ask him to look into his crystal ball for the future for London’s development market.
Q1. So, does your job title tell the whole story about your role?
Pretty much – although I also advise clients about the potential of their assets and get involved in investment work as well where there is potential for repositioning or development. During Lockdown it has been all hands to the pump though – I have also been helping out with residential and commercial departments – in fact the first retail letting I have done for 30 years has just started selling their pizzas on Lordship Lane!
Q2. Are you a Londoner?
I am from Birmingham originally but have lived in South London for over 30 years so I consider myself a naturalised citizen now. Its always an advantage operating in an area where you have lived for so long and brought up your children as you have a detailed knowledge of prices, planning, schools and other factors important in valuation without having to research them
Q3. Have you always worked in agency?
No – I started out there as a commercial agent in Shoreditch, then got swept up in the ‘Loft Living’ boom – I am showing my age there – and set up my own business. After that I was director of a small development company based in East London . We were early adopters of modern methods of construction and built several developments in London and also Harlow. I joined Hindwoods about four years ago – so I have gone from gamekeeper to poacher and back again.
Q4. How do you think that this client-side experience affects your approach?
Being at the sharp end of development and having your assets subject to personal guarantees certainly gives you a different perspective. There is no substitute for first-hand experience of the development process and this can be invaluable when advising clients or trying to arrange an equitable deal between land owner and developer.
Q5. What do you think the next year holds in store for the London development market?
Ah thanks a nice easy question to finish. There has been an unexpected bounce in the residential market over the last few months, but I would expect this to cool after Christmas. Even if developers become more circumspect should prices level off or fall, there will still be opportunities . For example, these may come from the relaxation of planning laws and also redevelopment and reworking of retail centres.
What is certain is that London will always bounce back – it is still a great place to live and work and the property sector has always proved itself to be resilient and creative in responding to the challenges it faces.
‘What’s the Use?’ How to make the most of changes to the use classes order
The Covid pandemic has justifiably dominated the news for the past 9 months and it’s no secret that coronavirus has affected the property industry in many ways. One that may have escaped people’s attention has been the raft of changes to UK planning policy – the biggest set of changes in a generation – which came into force on September 1st.
At Hindwoods, we have been busy getting up to speed with the new changes (and the devil in the detail) and advising clients and tenants about what this means for them – particularly any opportunities that may have opened up.
To help clients understand the new Use Classes, Georgia Mason, one of our commercial surveyors, has produced a useful guide – you can download your free copy here.
A new ‘Class E’ opens up opportunities for tenants and landlords
In an attempt to revitalise already failing retail areas and simplify commercial planning the government has abolished many of the old Use Classes governing (amongst others) Office, Light industrial, retail and restaurant and combined them all into a new class.
The new Class E allows for a mix of uses that allows commercial buildings to move in sync with market trends. Changes to another use, or mix of uses, within this class do not require planning permission.
So, a retail store may now trade as a restaurant. And a light industrial unit as a nursery. Or they may all take part in the same building without planning consent.
What does this mean for property investors, landlords, and tenants?
This should lead to an increase in potential uses for many vacant properties. As a landlord looking to let a commercial space, this new system can open up your property to a much wider audience. This in turn decreases void periods and increases the odds of letting your unit.
Since September, Hindwoods has been looking for new ways to help clients unlock properties to this wider audience. We’ve been guiding tenants through the new system and making the changes clear in any marketing we do for our clients.
As well as changes to Class E, there are changes to F1 Learning and non-residential institutions, F2 Local community uses and Sui generis, a use class of its own. We’re helping clients make the most of new changes in these areas too.
For our developer clients, it’s worth noting, that from 1 September 2020 until 31 July 2021, change of use permitted development rights set out in the GPDO will continue to be applied based on the existing use classes (as they exist on 31 August 2020). New permitted development rights will be introduced from 1 August 2021.04 December 2020