Experts Claim Planning Process Needs Radical Modernisation

Developers, planning lawyers, conveyancers, experienced estate agents, land acquisition specialists and industry-centric economists hunkered down in the Omega Business Suite in London yesterday to discuss collaborative approaches in the new build process.

The second of tmgroup’s three round table events did not disappoint in unearthing the major issues in new build, before laying the foundations for improvements in such a growing sector.

An experienced estate agent from Spicerhaart speculated that second-hand property sales may have declined by as much as 60% in the past decade, reducing existing housing stock because of declining confidence in the market, the increased popularity in making home improvements and the rise of new build.

It was also noted that new build property made up 1 in 9 residential sales in 2019 alone. The dependence on new build developers to provide the stock the country needs is currently creating myriad issues.

Nicola Gooch, Partner at Irwin Mitchell, discussed the inherent problems in the planning process which are clogging up the system, causing extreme delays and hindering the construction of new build developments.

The current planning system is struggling to cope, despite attempts to modernise processes and technology. Even the combination of experienced staff and improved technology are still taking around six weeks to process a TP1 form.

The public sector also faces a serious problem with retaining experienced and specialist staff members. Tied to a restrictive public sector pay scale, experienced planning officers are being lured into the private sector, adopting the role of a planning consultant. Appointing less experienced staff to the role of planning officers often leads to inconsistencies in practice and increased delays.

Paul Addison, land acquisition, risk expert and founder of DevAssist, echoed earlier sentiments by emphasizing the broken planning system unfairly favours larger developers, creating an inadvertent monopoly in the developing sector.

SME developers in particular, are seemingly being driven out because of the high barriers to entry before the planning process officially starts and the build is approved. It was argued that lenders should take a leading role in offering SME developers improved conditions to help cover the crippling costs accrued in the planning process.

Alan Willen, Economist at market analysts Glenigan, speculated that the property market may struggle as the wider economy adjusts to political and social changes. The wider market growth is slowing, and the current 1% GDP growth is half the level needed for the property sector to flourish.

Instead, the market is seen to be flattening and a fall in traditional housing projects is predicted. Whilst supply falters and demand is constrained, developers will look to increase specialist, cradle to grave, building projects. It is predicted that more high-quality buy to rent, co-living, and later life developments will become a viable alternative to help solve the housing crisis and provide accommodation options currently missing from the market.

Moving towards the final tmgroup new build round table event, delegates have already agreed that the new build sector needs improved communication between key stakeholders, shared data and an easier transference between stakeholders, more consistency and better education were lauded as vital developments needed.

As tmgroup’s collaborative round tables move on to Birmingham, delegates attending the 3PB barrister’s chambers on 18th July, will offer their key insights to the new build market and begin to explore the ways practitioners can adjust their current approaches to create a more streamlined and efficient journey for the consumer.

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