Alps Group - Blog

David Whitlock, ALPS’ Development Director  has been taking a look at future plans for London

Striking the right balance on Mayor Khan's new draft London Plan.

The Good News…..

Mayor Sadiq Khan has just published his draft London Plan to replace London Plan 2016.  This proposes an integrated economic, environmental, transport and social framework for development of London over 20-25 years.  Its policies promote ‘Good Growth’ defined as economically inclusive and environmentally sustainable, with significant emphasis on delivery of new homes by targeting 65,000 homes pa 2019-2029 totalling 650,000 over a 10-year outlook.  The draft plan removes housing density guidelines by favouring a design led approach to optimise density and deliver more homes.  It favours a plan led approach to tall buildings, especially on well-located brownfield land close to transport hubs.  It introduces new ‘growth corridors’ such as Bakerloo line extension to Lewisham.  These new policies are relevant and favourable to landowners with sites in these corridors.  However..

In reality…..

The new draft London Plan also targets 50% affordable housing, offers ‘fast-track’ planning for reaching 35% and requires minimum space, sustainability and other demanding standards that have significant cost implications and impact on viability, that can and does stifle delivery.


Of crucial importance in terms of achieving the Mayor’s primary objective of delivering new homes in London, is that developers take a proactive and robust approach to planning negotiations by striking the right commercial balance between percentages of affordable housing, Section 106 contributions, higher densities and market-facing space standards, supported by robust viability assessments coupled with a demonstrable commitment to delivering upon the policy objectives of the GLA in London.

…....we’re here to help!

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The Government has given the green light to increase planning application fees by 20%.  This increase will take effect from 17 January 2018 and any application not validated before this date will pay the new amounts.

Non-residential applications rise from £385 to £462 per 75 s.q.m and the upper threshold will rise from £250,000 to £300,000 - the maximum fee for non-residential development.

This will make clients with marginal sites more difficult to convince, especially as many think they get a refund if consent isn't granted!

ALPS Group

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There has been much written by many regarding the iniquitous new Check-Challenge-Appeal Rating Appeal system, and the Valuation Office Agency has effectively underlined everyone’s thoughts by publishing figures in respect of Rateable Value appeals – 182,000 at this time in 2010, at the last Revaluation, and 5,650 this year. It is understood that only 3 cases have navigated the tortuous system and reached the final Appeal stage. 


We have tried several times to register clients to start the process – agents cannot appeal assessments without the occupier first being registered. However, this is not straight forward and is extremely time consuming. In some cases, having loaded up numerous properties the system has rejected registration and so it had to be done all over again.  It would be incorrect to suggest that Government has built in a blocking system, but it is hard to believe that a system can be inadvertently so difficult to use.


Occupiers may not be aware that there was previously no obligation to notify the VOA that a property had been enlarged, and if they did not pick it up the assessment was not amended and rates were not payable. Now, in the Check part of the process it has become the obligation of the rate payer to make sure the property information is correct, and, therefore, if for example an extension has been overlooked it must now be disclosed and if it is not the rate payer will be liable.  So beware of rating consultants who promise much but could cost you dearly.


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Peter Alcock CEO of ALPS Group reflects on

London Regeneration Sites

“The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced he is planning homes for 70,000 more people a year in London, so land owners with existing planning consents would be well advised to review them to see whether they should be seeking higher densities. However, they should do this quickly as it is thought likely that following next May’s London Borough elections moderate Labour Councils may well become militant  anti-developer administrations. Interesting times ahead perhaps with a Mayor who wants to see new homes and Borough Councillors who don’t!”


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Interesting article from Insider Northwest - an insight into the future?


 12 Dec 2017  North West  Property
Pop-up cities could be a reality by 2030

Technological advances could lead to the emergence of pop-up cities by 2030, according to property experts brought together by Turner & Townsend to discuss what lies ahead for the industry.

The panel, which was chaired by Insider's Simon Keegan, consisted of: John Hughes (Ask), Chris Roberts (Bruntwood), Michelle Rothwell (Watch this Space), Stephen Wild (Peel), Lynda Shillaw (Manchester Airports Group), Matt Crompton (Muse), Tom Fenton (FE), Chris Reay (Allied London), Tom Bloxham (Urban Splash) and Dylan Williams (Property Alliance).

One of the expert predictions was that 'Sidewalk Labs' style pop-up cities will be a reality in the North West. Sidewalk Labs are being pioneered by tech giant Google's parent Alphabet in Toronto with the aim of using urban design and new digital technology to create a global hub for urban innovation.

Ask head John Hughes said: "I reckon there will be Sidewalk Labs. You are given an area to build a city from scratch.

John Hughes

"By 2030 someone from an Amazon or a Cisco will land in Manchester on a big piece of real estate and create a new digital district in Manchester. From scratch a new digital district," Hughes added.

"It could be MediaCity, it could be Mayfield."

And MediaCityUK boss Stephen Wild said: "In the future we’re going to 3D print buildings. Your construction issues would go by 3D printing."

He added: "There will be significant changes in how we live and work due to digitilisation – including unified smart transport systems, smart interactive buildings and cities, massive advancements in health enabled by digital and data analytics, electric and autonomous vehicles – almost every aspect of life will be touched."

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Interesting times ahead according to the Autumn budget 2017 with regards to housing, also green belt and brownfield sites – an area that ALPS specialise in and have much experience of.
Some main points:
The housing supply is to be raised from 217,000 at present to approximately 300,000 per year by the mid 2020s supported by

• New planning reforms to ensure more land is made available in the “right” areas with the onus being on underused areas in towns and cities and will support measures to convert
commercial land and developments into housing.

• Financial support
o The abolition of stamp duty for first time buyers purchasing a property under £300,000 helping approximately 80% of new home owners get onto the property ladder.
o £15.3 billion split between:
 SME loans to build new homes
 Infrastructure and remediation to speed up the building on small or stalled sites
 Council borrowing for new council houses
 Estate regeneration
 Land assembly fund – collation of land in ready to go development sites
 Financial guarantees to support private sector house building.

• Further financial support for help to buy equity schemes, affordable housing and a pilot for right to buy schemes for housing association tenants.
• Absolute support for protection of the Green Belt policy, which means greater emphasis on brown field sites – Alps’ speciality area.

Government will also bring together both public and private investment to plan and build 5 new garden towns.

The Budget also announced:
• Deallocation of land in local plans where there is no prospect of a planning application being made
• Local authorities are to grant permission for development of land outside their existing plan if the homes are offered for a reduced rate for sale or rent
• Tougher consequences where planned homes are not built by strengthening the housing delivery test.
• A requirement for 20% of local authority housing supply to be brought forward as ‘faster-building’ small housing sites.

Peter Alcock CEO of ALPS adds “This is very positive news for our industrial clients who have surplus brown field sites which need to be regenerated and brought back into economic use, with further much needed planning reforms promised”.

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