The UK housing market has grown from strength to strength since it reopened in May last year; average house prices have grown by 8.5% and there has been a 36% increase in housing market demand since the start of 2021 alone. This continued period of growth has put increasing pressure on the requirement for residential development land; however, due to a shortage of supply on a national level, there is an immediate need for new sites to be brought to market. John Turnbull, Chairman at youngsRPS, delves into the current opportunities for landowners, why they should be taking advantage, and how we can help.
Whilst there may be a larger requirement for sites capable of accommodating at least 60 or 70 homes, there is a growing demand, particularly in the Northern counties, from regional and bespoke developers for sites beginning at five units. Therefore, opportunities are presenting themselves at every level.
New build sales currently account for 1 in 8 of all residential property sales in the UK, and due to a significant increase in market activity, new developments are filling up quicker than expected. Nearly half of all home movers in the UK would consider a new build property, therefore housebuilders are looking to replenish their land supply in order to keep up with the demand.
Promotion/self finance as opposed to Option Agreements are currently delivering strong values as we are seeing evidence of developers trimming profit margins to win sites. The rather rigid supply/pipeline of sites as a result of local plan adoptions over the past few years means many housebuilders have gaps to fill, that won’t necessarily be able to be plugged by 5-year housing supply arguments. Being able to test the market offers real benefits just at present.
The Government’s levelling up agenda brings particular focus to the North and Northeast with the treasury being rehoused in Darlington, as well as the introduction of the Freeport in Teesside and the ‘gigafactory’ for the manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles in Blyth. With thousands of jobs being created or relocated to the region, there is a significant requirement for new home developments. If the Government get the balance right in their agenda, this presents further opportunity to housebuilders and landowners alike.
As well as the levelling up agenda, we are expecting the new Planning Bill later this year. It seems the more radical proposals set out in the 2020 Planning White Paper for a new zonal planning system are struggling to gain traction and could be shelved. However, increasing housing delivery will inevitably remain the key focus of any proposed reforms in an effort to hit the Government’s target of building 300,000 new homes per year.
Given local plans are largely in place in the North East, it is advisable for landowners to prepare now for a) new local plan lead in process and b) any slippage in delivery of projected supply (which might lead to an early opportunity).
It is important to note that it’s not just the residential market that brings development opportunity to landowners. The commercial development sector is particularly buoyant regarding roadside developments driven by new age vehicle charging systems and the need for new infrastructure to support the country’s increasing reliance on the freight and logistics sector.
Obtaining advice at an early stage is key to ensuring that the terms of any agreement are favourable and that you understand the alternatives. A successful option or promotion agreement invariably has the developer paying for the landowner’s legal and agent fees, or at least a proportion of these. The benefits is that planning permission is fully funded by the developer or promoter with no upfront costs incurred by the landowner.
The distribution of sale proceeds from a promotion agreement or the purchase price from an option agreement can often take place several years following commencement. Therefore, enlisting the help of an agent will ensure that each party is aware of its obligations and potential costs and return, resulting in a much smoother process.
youngsRPS offer a range of services enabling land to come forward for development, from our dedicated team of planners submitting planning applications and representations, through to a team of experienced surveyors negotiating option/promotion agreements and ultimately the sale of development land.
How can youngsRPS help
Our team of development specialists can help you pursue the development of your property.
We work to identify and unlock potential, increasing the profile of your land and deciphering the best route to development, whether that be:
- self-funding a planning application,
- securing an option agreement with a developer; or,
- entering a promotion agreement with a promotor.
We know the market in all of its variations across the North, and over the years, we have developed and maintained relationships with key national and regional house builders and to ensure the best overall result for you.
youngsRPS offer a range of services enabling land to come forward for development, from our dedicated team of planners submitting planning applications and representations, through to a team of experienced surveyors negotiating option/promotion agreements and ultimately the sale of development land. Learn more about our planning team here.