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Marchmont in La Thuile – 2019 Ski Trip

Marchmont in La Thuile - 2019 Ski Trip

As Marchmont tradition dictates, the best way to celebrate another successful business year is with a company skiing holiday, and this year was no exception.

Marchmont in La Thuile - 2019 Ski TripMarchmont in La Thuile - 2019 Ski Trip

 

With our director Ashley Miller back on form after missing out on last year’s trip due to a previous skiing mishap, the team were ready and looking forward to the chance to relax, socialise and celebrate the previous year’s successes, showing off on La Thuile’s stunning slopes during the day before unwinding with a bit of après-ski in it’s cosy bars and restaurants by night.

Although the trip provides a much needed opportunity for relaxation away from the office, it also showcases the qualities which make Marchmont so successful and shows why we value our team so highly. While our days on the slopes are spent working hard to improve, with all of our staff committed to being the best they can be and the more advanced skiers never hesitating to help and support their colleagues, the evenings provide an opportunity for our staff to show off their more relaxed and easy-going sides. At Marchmont we know how important it is to maintain a good work/life balance but we also know that that is sometimes easier said than done which is why we value our annual ski trip so highly. Its the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate our successes, grow as a team and generally let out hair down and relax.

 

Kevin Davies (Director) comments:

“As such a close-knit team, the annual ski trip is greatly anticipated every year as it provides an opportunity for the whole business to get together to relax and socialise outside working environment. It is such a pleasure to see the team working together and supporting each other both on and off the piste, regardless of their skiing abilities or experience within the business. There is certainly never a shortage of camaraderie among the team!”

 

Marchmont in La Thuile - 2019 Ski TripMarchmont in La Thuile - 2019 Ski TripMarchmont in La Thuile - 2019 Ski TripMarchmont in La Thuile - 2019 Ski Trip

Annual Ski Trip

Annual Ski Trip

Annual Ski Trip

Marchmont Surveyors recently celebrated another successful year with a ski trip to Italy!

Whilst the team missed out on seeing the poise and skiing prowess of our director Ashley Miller (so he tells us!) due to a small tumble on an earlier ski adventure, he was certainly there in spirit throughout.

It wouldn’t be Marchmont without a bit of après-ski, so the team relaxed in some excellent bars and eateries when they could. One slight concern was when the team seemingly took a wrong turn in the Alps and crossed into France, but thank goodness they had their passports with them!

The trip was symptomatic of how Marchmont operate as a company; hardworking and committed on the slopes, relaxed and easy-going off it. No matter how busy the working day can get, it is essential to make time for some fresh air and time to reflect. Like our Clients, a work-life balance is difficult to manage, but we try and achieve it, over here at Marchmont.
Kevin Davies, Director at Marchmont Surveyors comments;

“The annual ski trip is always a greatly anticipated getaway for the whole team, regardless of everyone’s skiing abilities. Indeed, watching everyone plan the day and assist their colleagues on the slopes is really gratifying to watch and we appreciate everybody within our team no matter how long they have been with us and this trip is always a great way for us all to get together outside of the working environment.”

Annual Ski Trip

The return of Keep Open Clauses

The return of Keep Open Clauses

For those of you old enough, Keep Open Clauses were legally considered some time ago and ever since, us Surveyors have ignored such clauses in English leases as being in-material and thus have not deemed them worthy of consideration in valuation, let alone considered them as actually able to prevent a Tenant closing a shop.

This feeling sits comfortably with the fact that the English courts would be unlikely to enforce the clause, except where it can be proven that the store closing is an Anchor store or a significant tenant that would detrimentally affect the rest of the development/high street.

The original purpose of the keep-open clause is straightforward: landlords of a shopping centre want to have all of their units occupied and open for business in order to maintain both the profile of the centre and its investment value. This is of course is even more essential for a Landlord, where the rents are partly based on turnover.

Closed shops in a shopping centre can have a negative effect for ALL – Landlords and Tenant’s alike  – as they make a centre or a certain pitch of a centre less desirable to shoppers, which can impact on the turnover and profitability of the trading units – which in turn affects the level of rent and hence the investment value of the shopping centre.

Despite this shared desire to keep shops open for the benefit of ALL, where a Tenant is struggling financially and assuming the unit isn’t deemed an Anchor, then the Tenant generally closes the unit, despite the protestations of a Landlord, and minimises the Tenant’s ongoing losses

To date, this position in England, irrespective of clauses within a lease to the contrary, is rarely challenged within the Courts – who will not enforce the keep open obligation by way of specific performance, except in exceptional circumstances.

English law takes the view that damages are an adequate remedy for a breach of contract (including breach of a lease), but landlords often find it difficult to substantiate a capital loss unless the tenant is an Anchor tenant. The reason for this difficulty is that it has not to date been easy to accurately ascertain how loss of footfall can be valued – could this be changing with ever improving data collection and analysis?

In the leading case in this area from 1997, the House of Lords was asked to grant an order for specific performance, which forces the tenant (in this instance the Safeway supermarket chain) to re-open and trade a unit they had closed. However, the Court’s ruling established the opposite principle – namely, that it would not be appropriate for the English courts to grant an order for specific performance that would oblige a tenant to stay open and trade.

Will a changing retail environment create a changing Court attitude?

Today’s environment is different and a multi-channel retailer, will consider profitability in differing ways – take Starbucks over in the US who recently restructured their property portfolio and looked to close a 379 store sub-chain of theirs, including 77 branches held by one Landlord.

The big differential here is that Starbucks was deemed PROFITABLE and seen to be restructuring not struggling with debt. The closures were thus halted in the US courts after action by a Shopping centre owner who contended their centre would be irreparably damaged by the closures, if Starbucks were allowed to breach the Keep open clauses within their leases and they sought an injunction – a Judge ruled in the Landlords favour!

A similar example but this time an Anchor situation in the US, but the retailer Whole Foods who had closed a store will little or no notice within a shopping centre in Washington have been forced to re-open by the Courts.

The moral of the story here is that modern retailers must now,  more than ever be aware of new legal risks should they choose to restructure their property portfolios, breaching previous defunct keep open clauses in a situation where the retailer is actually profitable

Ashley Miller comments: “I am not suggesting that US decisions have jurisdiction in the UK but as the multi-channel retail environment continues to change, the restructuring of a profitable retail business, may give rise to new legal challenges by affected landlords who are facing enough bad news through the financial collapse of retailers and who faced with closures from profitable retailers, may try to hit back!”

Death of the Surveyor

To my mind, there is a fast moving technological ‘wind’ sweeping through the industry and changing the fundamentals of what our role entails and the everyday tasks we carry out, which raises a question mark on the future role of the surveyor.

We will all have noted the changes in the acquisition leasing market, with ever more flexible and transient template leases being offered on office accommodation, how much longer before off prime retail pitches have the same flexibility and lease templates, trying to hook a dwindling retail occupier for end of high street locations.

I am not sure how many of you have tried to negotiate lease terms with players such as Work Space or WeWork but when they say non-negotiable it does generally mean don’t bother putting your surveyor hat on and tweaking break conditionality, because it won’t work.

Of course if the Surveyor is not needed for professional lease negotiations, then there is always the rent review and lease renewal negotiations to fall back on, isn’t there?

Well, given the vast improvements with software and a diminishing imperfect knowledge of market transactions I am not so sure, as surely an algorithm would better consider the nuances and pitch changes within a high street than us emotional human beings, and who better to give an impartial Expert Witness report!

As with all these things, we tend to follow the US lead and according to an article on 19 March 2017 in the New York Times, “the law firm partner of the future will be the leader of a team and more than one of the players will be a machine”. The article in question mentions the experience of a Legal firm in Miami who began using AI (artificial intelligence) software. The system worked by allowing the user to type in a legal question and the program replies with a few paragraphs summarising the answer and a two page explanatory memo. The results are said to be indistinguishable from a memo written by a lawyer.

Artificial Intelligence software is getting refined and improved continuously as an Accentura survey titled “Benefits of Robotics in Financial Services” indicates that in some areas in the banking industry, time to perform tasks was reduced by up to 90% by using AI.

With the addition of Chatbots and Virtual Assistants that can understand human emotions and act proactively, more and more jobs will be performed by machines by the end of 2018.

Say what you like about are legal colleagues but if the above is happening in the legal and financial professions, where does that leave us ‘brainiac’ Surveyors and the continuing use of our services for providing our bosses, Boards and/or clients with property information, advice and data. As surely the software of tomorrow will be a cheaper alternative to the HR cost of us.

So with our ‘reports and advice’ being done through AI, with drones marching up the high street doing our surveys and an improved ‘Google earth’ removing the need for a surveyor to actually leave their desk  (there goes the company car!) one is inclined to ask whether it is too late to re-train as a software consultant?

Interesting times indeed for us Surveyors but if anyone can blag their way upwards and onwards in an uncertain world – it’s us lot!

Ashley Miller – Director

Vape Shops Set To Expand And Become A Main Stay Of the High Street

Smoking has now been replaced by a new phenomenon, ‘Vaping’ – the use of e-cigarettes, with now nearly 3 million Brits vaping. As a result, nationwide we have witnessed the opening of new Vape shops and cafes where “vapers” are encouraged to hang out, drink coffee and listen to music.

A recent press release by the trade body representing the Vape sector has forecast that the industry will grow exponentially from £1bn a year to £4bn by 2021. The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) estimates that the amount of vaping stores in the UK is likely to grow rapidly over the next 2-3 years as retail brands embark on major store investment programmes. The prediction comes as the industry is forecasting record Christmas sales.

Marchmont are very familiar with the changing face of what makes up the traditional high street having acted for a variety of well known occupiers on our nation’s high streets and they have noted this growth of Vape Shops. Indeed, these shops and cafes are already found on over 2,000 high streets in the UK with sales of vaping products surging 50% in 2016 to reach £1bn.

Ashley Miller, Director at Marchmont comments “Although the industry is only a decade old, vaping is now a major player in the retail market and although initially the growth was rather ad-hoc and generally local in nature, significant retail brands are now beginning to emerge and co-ordinate bringing vaping shops onto the high street”

Whether Vaping enters and establishes within the prime pitches of the High Street in the future or whether it will go up in smoke, is still to be seen.

Break Clause Conditionality – Marchmont Recommend Continued Caution

Break Clause Conditionality - Marchmont Recommend Continued Caution

This trend is evidenced by the MSCI’s Lease Events Review 2016 showing that almost 50% of retail leases across all retail sectors had a break clause in them. As Tenant advisors, Marchmont have always been cautious of conditions and penalties included as part of a Tenant break clause as these require observance, to trigger any break clause. Indeed Case Law and experience has shown that break clauses are often frustrated and indeed prevented from operating, as a consequence of the conditionality contained within the break clause, making the initial effort and cost of securing a break clause, worthless.

As we are all aware, The Code for Leasing Business Premises 2007 has in recent times given Tenant’s a measure of recourse and compromise, where landlords have been pushing for unfavourable conditionality. Recent case law has thrown up new challenges and concerns for Tenant’s wishing to use what they thought were useable break clauses.

One common condition to satisfy at a break clause is the giving up of the unit with vacant possession. The 2016 case: Riverside Park Ltd vs NHS Property Services Ltd EWHC 1313(Ch), raises the daunting prospect that any demountable partitions introduced by the Tenant during the term will need to be removed prior to the break clause, to satisfy strictly a vacant possession requirement.

Demountable non-structural partitions as the judge held that the demountable partitioning was not a fixture that could be left at the break date but a chattel as it was not affixed to the structure, so it could be removed without substantial damage to the premises and had only ever been included as a temporary benefit for the current Tenant.

It doesn’t need Marchmont to sound the alarm for most Tenant’s, who in vacating premises at a break date, would rather forgo the immediate cost and aggro of this removal, which can be left to the more stable arena of Terminal Dilapidation negotiations. Retailers will, with horror realise that if demountable partitions need to be removed, then closure dates will need to come forward significantly, again bringing further cost and organisational hassle, let alone the loss of profit from fewer trading days.

Of course, the Riverside Park case is not binding in all or indeed most circumstances as it relied on its own particular details, which in this case revolved around a breach by the particular Tenant of conditions imposed within a licence to alter but………it could herald a new attitude and an updated legal and landlord interpretation of the principle of leaving demountable partitions on site.

At the very least, any Tenant considering utilising a break clause with a Vacant Possession condition should consider that on removing Tenant fittings, some pre-thought may be needed for demountable partitions and thus the costs and timings of the same should be factored in.

Marchmont’s own experience acting for Clients has been a recent legal opinion that “if in doubt strip it out” but we are not convinced this safety-first approach is the best strategy.

With a significant amount of ‘shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted’, perhaps going forwards a better strategy would now be shorter leases at Renewal or acquisition rather than incorporating break clauses or negotiating at acquisition / renewal what Vacant Possession works should be undertaken as a condition of the break – so all parties at the commencement of the lease understand the rules.

Of course these wise words and advice, clearly don’t help us all dealing with the significant number of break clauses out there, which will need to be considered and dealt with on a bespoke basis.

Softening Rents in Bond Street or Just a Lull?

Softening Rents in Bond Street or Just a Lull?

Indeed, Bond Street retailers undergoing rent reviews have seen rents skyrocket over the last five years ago from a base when they averaged at around £950 per sq ft Zone A.

The proposed rent increase was contested and the case went to Arbitration which was handled by Independent Expert, Keith Whale. The new rent was awarded and set at £1.9m pa which equates to £2,100 per sq ft Zone A.

Although a substantial rise in rent, it is still below the record rent in the street, where Ralph Lauren pays £2,225 Zone A albeit it tallies with the letting to watch retailer, Hublot at 14 New Bond Street in June 2016, which at that time heralded and set the record for a rent at the new mark of £2,000 per sq ft Zone A.

Ashley Miller, Director at Marchmont Surveyors comments “New Bond Street, a place where rental records are always set, has proven to be one of the most prestigious and sought after retail locations in the world. The best of the World's retailers want to be here and will continue to bid competitively – the Award on Boodles should be seen in the context of their specific facts and to my mind is no indication of rents softening

Marchmont welcomes partnering Runnymede BC

Marchmont welcomes partnering Runnymede BC

Marchmont were successful in a tender to partner and assist Runnymede BC in their asset management of Egham Town Centre including Rent Review and Lease Renewal work.

Runnymede BC have been one of the most active and successful Councils in investing in commercial property within and outside of their boundaries, using advantageous government borrowing for the benefit of their constituency.

Marchmont are most experienced and skilled in the ‘dark arts’ of Rent Review across the UK as well as trusted partners on all aspects of lease renewal negotiations, helping clients to develop a property strategy and manage the court process.

Ashley Miller, Director at Marchmont comments “We are thrilled to have begun working with Runnymede BC and are looking forward to maintaining a long-lasting, trusted relationship with them for years to come”

Marchmont Team bonding at Chesterton’s Polo in the Park

Marchmont Team bonding at Chesterton's Polo in the Park

On the 11th of June 2017, the Marchmont Surveyors team enjoyed a group bonding day at Chesteron’s Polo in The Park.

A fantastic day was had at this large, exciting event which saw a unique format of fast and furious polo, which made a change for the team from the fast and furious property world. 

Ashley Miller, a director at Marchmont comments ” We feel it is so important to get the Team out of the office and relaxing together in a new environment. Events like these reinforce bonds and get people talking and sharing experiences, which can only assist our Clients in the long run”

Marchmont Surveyors are firm believers in “Work Hard, Play Hard”. The company’s overall success is based on respect, consideration and always recognising that however busy the team are, it is still necessary to find time to unwind and just have some fun.

 

 

Marchmont Team bonding at Chesterton's Polo in the Park

Marchmont Celebrates 20 Years

Marchmont Celebrates 20 Years

Ashley Miller, Director at Marchmont explains “Our business partnership is like a marriage on steroids, as there are three strong personalities constantly needing to make financial and business decisions for the long and short term future of the company. It’s bad enough making summer holiday plans with your wife or partner, so imagine trying to do that for every week of the year! “

Steven Weatherstone, Director at Marchmont believes that the company’s success is based on respect and consideration and comments “We work on our relationship, always recognising that however busy we all are, we still need to find time to sit down, catch up and really talk decisions through, whether that simply be a long lunch or on occasion escaping for a ‘letting your hair down’ weekend!”

Marchmont have similar long term relationships with their clients, caring passionately about getting it right for each Client’s specific needs and requirements and as a result delivering bespoke property solutions. Their vast experience in commercial property and their upbeat and grounded advice mean the vast majority of their client stick with them and have stayed with Marchmont over the last 20 years.

Kevin Davies, Director at Marchmont confirms “We all feel that our Clients are like trusted teammates. We recognise our success lies with our clients recognising our commitment and by us delivering trusted advice. The old saying, “you are only as good as your last job” is engrained in our culture”

As the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words, and we are still working and playing 20 years on.

Marchmont Celebrates 20 Years

 

Marchmont Hold Developer to Ransom in Landmark Legal Win

Marchmont Hold Developer to Ransom in Landmark Legal Win

The lease contained a break clause that allowed the landlord to terminate the lease on 27th of September 2016, upon giving six months’ notice.

The Claimant, Vanquish Properties took an overriding lease of the premises from the City of London Corporation on 22nd of March 2016 and promptly served a break notice and a section 25 notice on the tenant. The new landlord was a Limited Partnership, which originally (in April 2011) had two partners. A further three partners joined shortly after the Partnership was formed in June of the same year.

The decision  

Marchmont, during advices to their Client, noted the inconsistency and disputed the validity of the break notice and the section 25 notice as it was disputed that Vanquish Properties (UK) Limited was not the correct landlord for the purposes of serving the break notice as the legal estate could not be vested in the name of the Partnership but rather had to be in the name of the partners.

The High Court considered the landlord’s application for a declaration that the break notice and section 25 was valid.

The Claimant’s application for a declaration was dismissed. It was held that the break notice and section 25 notice were invalid as the legal estate in land was not capable of being vested in the name of the Partnership.

As Ashley Miller at Marchmont confirms – “this set up an excellent set of circumstances  for negotiations to commence with the Landlord to agree the vacation of their site by our Client, resulting in a substantial surrender premium and smiles all round: at our end in any event!”

Further analysis

The Limited Partnerships Act 1907 (“the Act”) provides that land held by a partnership can be vested in no more than four partners. Should a partnership have more than four people named as trustees or grantees, the first four named will hold the estate as joint tenants, in trust for the partnership. In this case, it was not possible to determine who the “first four named” were in reference to documents filed in accordance with the Act. The lease could not, therefore, have been granted to the Claimant in this case, as it was not possible in law. This meant the Claimant was not entitled to serve the break notice (or the section 25 notice) on the tenant.

This case is a warning to both landlords and tenants when serving notices to determine. Both should note that it is always worth checking the number of members comprising the partnership to ensure compliance with the law.

Marchmont Advise on Barnardo’s Sale and Leaseback Deal

Nick Davies of Barnardos commented that he was “enormously pleased with the outcome” and went on to say that “In December when we first spoke I was almost convinced that we had insufficient time to achieve a decent outcome and realistically were likely to miss the year-end target. You and your colleagues proved me wrong with a really quick response, thorough reporting/recommendations, effective marketing and even some timely prompts for any activity required from me! A job very well done.”

The properties were located in Bournemouth, Cardigan, Chiswick, Greenock, Hythe, Newton Abbot, Pinner, St Annes on Sea and Sudbury. All of the properties had been owned by Barnardo’s for a significant amount of time, including some since the 1960s. The transaction was completed for a price of £3.5 Million.

Marchmont have acted on behalf of Barnardo’s for many years, acting on both acquisitions and disposals across the UK, however this was the first sales and leaseback instruction that they have dealt with on behalf of this client. Barnardos are a UK based Children’s Charity founded by Thomas Barnardo in 1866 to care for vulnerable children and young people.

Since then, it has grown and expanded and now provides 966 services in local communities aimed at children, further to this they currently have more 670 shops in the UK. Marchmont act across the UK on both acquisitions and disposals of investment property, if you would like to speak confidentially about a potential acquisition or disposal please contact us today.

A Business Rate Update: TESCO – in line for £105m business rate cut

In the UK all commercial properties are subject to a tax known as Business Rates. Business Rates are payable based on the Rateable Value of a property, which has historically been reviewed every 5 years however due to the recent period of economic recession, the 2015 revaluation was delayed until now.

The new Rateable Values are effective as of 1st April 2017. There has been a massive outpouring of commentary on the new Rateable Values and their inequality, creating hardship and putting business’s literally out of business. This view we believe is very ‘South-centric’ as overall research is now suggesting that 77% of retail centres will see a decrease in Rateable Values, only 18% will see an increase and 5% no change.

Many of our Clients, who operate nationwide will benefit from the revaluation. Generally, where rents have risen greatly such as in London, you will see a large uplift in your business rates but if you are a rates payer for a property outside the London conurbation, you are more likely see a large drop in your business rates.  It is also noted that there is new and improved small business rates relief for small businesses. For instance, if a Property has a rateable value less than £12,000 you NOW won’t pay any business rates –  previously this would have been £6,000pa.

Like all tax changes, there are winners and losers and TESCO seems to be one of the former,  but research suggests that there will be more winners than losers and that the extra burden will fall on London much to the relief of the rest of the country.

Marchmont Helps Sally Salon Services Acquire Presence In Liverpool One

Marchmont were very pleased to have helped their client Sally Salon Services last week to acquire a space in Liverpool One Shopping Centre for a unit set to open in January 2017.

 

Sally Salon Services are a long standing client of Marchmont,  a global company started in New Orleans which has grown into the world’s largest distributor of professional hair and beauty products with over 4000 stores worldwide today. The company operates four brands; Sally; a retail brand stocked in over 180 stores, Salon Services, Beauty Express and Shear Beauty.

The new store opening in Liverpool will join the 260 stores already established over the UK and Ireland. Liverpool One is a premium shopping centre in the Liverpool and North West which boasts over 170 shops, bars and restaurants spread across five districts in the heart of Liverpool City Centre. Sallys Salon Services will make a fantastic addition to the busy retail environment.

Propertyserve Wins Works At Marchmont Clients’ Estates

Commercial property surveyor Marchmont has selected Propertyserve to deliver reactive works to its managed client portfolios.

Marchmont specialises in corporate real estate, managing operational portfolios and facilities management services across the UK and Europe for both retail and corporate clients.

Propertyserve, which procures, manages and delivers reactive fabric maintenance, was appointed in October 2016, following a six-month trial.

Propertyserve to deliver maintenance services for Marchmont

Propertyserve has been chosen by specialist commercial property surveyors, Marchmont, to deliver reactive works to its managed client portfolios.

Marchmont specialises in corporate real estate, managing operational portfolios and facilities management services across the UK and Europe for retail and corporate clients.

Propertyserve which procures, manages and delivers reactive fabric maintenance, was officially appointed in October 2016, following a six-month trial.

Kevin Davies, director at Marchmont, said:

“We selected Propertyserve because the company’s services and geographical reach match our requirements. They are highly professional, efficient and enjoyable to work with, which are all important in any business partnership.”

Chris MacDonald, managing director at Propertyserve, added:

“We have worked hard to support the Marchmont facilities managers, to deliver the best service possible and to save their time and efforts when it comes to handling reactive maintenance.

“Our appointment is proof of the trust that they now have instilled, and we hope to continue supporting the company’s expanding portfolio.”

11,000 sq.ft disposal completed for Accor hotels

Marchmont are pleased to announce the completion of a large disposal for Accor Hotels in Docklands.

Accor Hotels is a French hotel chain with International coverage and includes over twenty hotel brands. These include names such as Sofitel, Raffles, Ibis and Pullman.

The hotel chain appointed Marchmont to undertake the disposal of 11,000 sq.ft of surplus ground floor space on a waterside location at London’s Royal Victoria Dock, Western Gateway Docklands E16 adjacent to ExCeL London.

Despite its desirable location within the vibrant docklands area, the space was failing to attract key retail, restaurant or leisure interest and therefore had been sitting vacant for some time.

With our knowledge and experience of dealing with waterside commercial space, Marchmont identified an opportunity and applied for a change of use and secured planning on the space to convert it into creative office space. Following its approval (Marchmont managed and advised their client throughout the process), Marchmont was able to secure a new letting to Uber, a leading taxi app, as a new tenant for the space.

Kevin Davies, Director at Marchmont Surveyors commented: “This was a very rewarding project. 11,000 sq.ft is a large space to remain vacant, especially in a thriving area like London’s Docklands. Our team supported Accor Hotels throughout the process from the initial strategy review, to applying for change of use consent and then to securing a new tenant. We were delighted to close a deal with Uber as we felt the new creative space fitted in well with their ethos and corporate style. “

 

UK Commercial Property Investment Set to Reach New Record High in 2015

Almost £50 billion of transactions were completed in the first three quarters of this year and, with a healthy pipeline of deals, quarter four volumes should exceed £20 billion, as they did in 2013 and 2014, says the report from Carter Jonas, the UK property consultancy.

Based on an analysis of Propertydata figures, total deal volumes for the first nine months of this year were up by 17% against the same period in 2014 when they were £41.7 billion.

Much of this capital came from overseas investors, up 45% on the same period last year at £24.2 billion in 2015 up from £16.6 billion in 2014, accounting for nearly 50% of total investment.

By the year end, international investors will account for over 50% of the UK market for the first time, compared with a market share of less than 25% some 15 years ago, the report points out.

Most of the growth in activity has been driven by a sharp rise in deals involving hotels, leisure and specialist property assets, with investment volumes boosted by a number of sizeable portfolio deals. Investment volumes in offices and retail warehousing rose by 12% to 13% over the same period.

‘There is still plenty of capital chasing commercial property, with this year set to be record breaking. However, with the market edging towards its natural peak in the cycle, a pause for breath seems likely in 2016,’ said Darren Yates, head of research at Carter Jonas.

‘Moreover, investors will need to factor in headwinds such as the anticipated interest rate rise and the EU referendum may start to play on investors’ minds,’ he added.

The report also points out that significant yield compression is already a feature across the mainstream sectors. As such, good value investment opportunities are becoming difficult to source, particularly in central London and, increasingly, in the large regional cities.

Investors are therefore considering value-add investments and development as a means of generating better returns. Assets outside the mainstream sectors such as student accommodation and the private rented sector (PRS), which offer higher yields and diversification benefits, are also seeing significant interest.

Demand for the smaller established cities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Bath has also risen sharply, in recognition of their strong performance, particularly in 2014. However, supply is also restricted in these locations, which could add to downward pressure on yields.

‘Whilst we will continue to see further yield compression in some parts of the market, this could taper off in the next three to six months. However, when viewed against current bond rates, property yields still offer good value and, with rental growth coming through, there is still an incentive to invest in UK commercial property,’ said Mike Prosser, partner in the investment team at Carter Jonas.

Controversial Office to Resi Rights Here to Stay

The controversial temporary permitted development rights of 2013 (that were due to expire on the 30th May 2016), which allowed offices to be converted into new homes without so much red tape. will now be made a permanent fixture of the UK planning laws.

In addition to the new permanent development rights, further new rights will also enable the change of use of light industrial buildings and launderettes to new homes. These extended rights will however be subject to a prior approval process.

Brandon Lewis said: “We’re determined that, both in Whitehall and in town halls, everything is done to get the homes we need built. Today’s measures will mean we can tap into the potential of underused buildings to offer new homes for first-time buyers and families long into the future, breathing new life into neighbourhoods and at the same time protecting our precious green belt.”

Due to the relaxation of these regulations, Since April 2014  it has meant that almost 4,000 conversions have been given the go ahead.

Kevin Davies a Director from Marchmont Surveyors explains “Although this is a anticipated move by the government and supporting a free moving market is most welcome, continuation of this policy is aimed at speeding up the construction numbers for the UK”s residential housing needs. Marchmont are aware that in key towns and cities across the country commercial property requirements and shortages are becoming apparent, with particular strain on the affluent towns and cities in the South East such as; Windsor, St Albans, Reading, London and Woking. This change is welcome however a vacuum for good quality office space is already appearing”.

Twitter: @BrandonLewis

UK Household Spending Has a Soft September – Visa

UK shoppers tapered their spending last month, according to new figures published today by a credit card giant.

Visa’s consumer spending index – which looks at total spending, not just that on credit cards – showed spending post a lift of 1.8 per cent in September compared with the same month last year.

Despite the gain, the pace of the spending climb was less than the average growth of 2.4 per cent seen throughout the year so far.

The lull in spending growth coincides with some softer economic data from the UK, such as Markit’s business surveys, but shoppers are not expected to stay timid for long.

“Record low interest rates and stagnant price trends continue to boost spending power and consumer confidence, and are expected to support a further rise in expenditure as we head into the final quarter of 2015,” said economist Annabel Fiddes from Markit, which compiles the data.

Spending growth was led by recreation and culture which was up 7.8 per cent year-on-year and clothing and footwear, which was up 6.2 per cent. Cash spent on hotels, restaurants and bars jumped 6.6 per cent. Online spending outpaced face-to-face spending, which declined.

“Consumers maximised the last of the summer and the camaraderie of the major sporting events in September, with spend at pubs and on entertainment roaring ahead. September was in fact the best month for the entertainment sector in terms of sales growth since last August,” said Kevin Jenkins, UK and Ireland managing director Visa Europe.

“Clothing retailers were also winners in September. Poor weather in the second half of the month
encouraged consumers to ready themselves for the beginning of autumn while also buying last-minute school uniforms for the new term.”

London Property Prices: First Floor Flats are Most in Demand – But Carry a Significant Premium Too

Research carried out by high end estate agent Rokstone suggests that 60 per cent of people looking for an apartment would choose the first floor, while 30 per cent would “settle” for second or third floor rooms. Just five per cent would choose a ground floor or lower ground garden flat, while the same number were looking for a top floor or penthouse apartment. 

Looking at property prices over the last three years, Rokstone claims first floor flats now have a 50 per cent price premium over the same flats on different floors in a typical five-storey apartment block.

For example, if an average two-bed flat in prime central London sells for £1.4m, a first floor apartment of the same proportions would be valued at £1.82m, Rokstone said. Ground floor flats would go for 10 per cent less – £1.26m – while top floor and basement flats would fetch around £980,000.

However “true” penthouses – which occupy the whole top floor – could actually be worth up to six-times more than apartments on the lower floors.  the estate agent noted. Gardens can add between five and 10 per cent back onto the going rate of a ground floor or basement property.

The research was based on the buying patterns of more than 6,000 clients and contacts looking for central London properties on Rokstone’s books.

Marchmont Supports the Irish Economy

Marchmont have been doing their bit to get the Irish Economy up and running as they assist their client, Turas Nua opening their 8th office in Waterford, Eire.

Turas Nua are halfway in their efforts to open up a new network of offices to assisting the Irish Government helping people get back into work and Marchmont has been working with them to achieve their goals, having found and fitted out all 8 offices so far.

Ashley at Marchmont ” We have been scouring the country for the best opportunities and then managing the fitting out and handing over the offices to our Client in a ready to go format  – it’s nice for once not just to be considering the commercial side of things, as this work, ultimately directly assists the town and the people you have been working with.

We are well on the way to opening up a further 8 or 9 opportunities this year but it seems Irish Solicitors are no different to their UK counterparts as the speed of the legal process is our biggest hurdle!”

Ashley Miller
Director

Town & Country Planning Changes 2015

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 came into force on 15th April 2015.

Steven Weatherstone from Marchmont Chartered Surveyors has set-out the new permitted development rights that apply to betting shops, since being moved from A2 to a Sui generis use class.

Broadly speaking they can continue to benefit from PD rights to change use to A1 and A2 but new rights have been introduced too. Summary as follows:

Class C – retail, betting office or pay day loan shop or casino to restaurant or cafe

Change of use to class A3 – subject to various conditions and a prior approval process – allows building operations to provide for ventilation and extraction, storage of rubbish as reasonably necessary to use the building as class A3.

Development is not permitted if any of the following apply:

  1. Cumulative floor space changing use must not exceed 150 square metres
  2. The development (together with any previous development under class C) would result in more than 150 square metres having changed use under class C.
  3. The land must not be in a site of special scientific interest, safety hazard area or military explosives storage area.
  4. The site must not be or contain a scheduled monument.
  5. The building must not be listed.

Prior approval process – this is extensive:

You must apply to the local authority for determination as to whether prior approval is required. They are allowed to assess the following impacts:

  • Noise
  • Odour
  • Storage and handling of wastes
  • Transport and highways
  • Opening hours
  • General desirability of the change of use because of impact of the change of use out of A1 or A2 – so I assume this does not apply to betting offices, and if it is in a key shopping area then the impact on sustainability of the area (again, seems to have less applicability for betting offices).
  • Siting, design or external appearance of the facilities to be provided from the building operations permitted (only applies if the carrying out of the permitted building operations is proposed).

Development must be carried out within 3 years of the prior approval date.

Class E – Financial and professional or betting office or payday loan shop to shops

Change of use to A1. No conditions or prior approval process.

Class F – Betting offices or payday loan shops to financial and professional

Change of use to A2- no conditions or prior approval process.

Class G – Retail or betting office or payday loan shop to mixed use

  1. Change of use to mixed use to class A2 and as up to 2 flats.
  2. Where the building has a display window at ground floor level: to a mixed use of A1 (shops) and as up to 2 flats.
  3. To a mixed use as a betting office and as up to 2 flats.

Conditions that apply to change of use under class G:

  • Some or all of the parts of the building in the relevant commercial use must be situated below the parts used for residential.
  • If there is a display window at ground floor, this part cannot change use to residential.
  • The flat can only be used for a single dwelling and only for up to 6 residents living together as a single household.

Class H – mixed use to retail

You can go from a mixed use of A1/A2/ betting office and up to 2 flats to A2, A1 or, if the mixed use was betting office and residential, to betting office use. You can only use this if the residential parts changing use were used for A1, A2 or betting office as relevant, immediately prior to being residential.

Class J – retail or betting office or payday loan shop to assembly and leisure

Change of use to D2 (assembly and leisure)

Conditions, including size restrictions on the area change of use, and a permitted development process applies.

Class M – retail or betting office or payday loan shop to dwelling houses

Change of use to C3 residential from retail or A2 or betting shop use, or mixed use as a betting shop and residential.

Allows for building operations that are reasonably necessary.

Conditions and a prior approval process applies.

Development not permitted if:

  • The building was not used as a betting shop on 20 March 2013 (or its last use if not in use at that date).
  • A1/ A2 use was permitted under PD rights.
  • Cumulative floor space changing use is more than 150 square metres or it would result in more than 150 square metres of floor space having changed use to C3.
  • The external dimensions can’t extend beyond the existing dimensions
  • The building works consist of demolition, other than that reasonably necessary.
  • It is in a conservation area, is a listed building, a scheduled monument or any of the other areas as for Class C. Obviously the addition of conservation areas to the list will knock out quite a few properties.

Prior approval process applies. Local authority can look at flooding risks, contamination risks, transport and highways impacts, general desirability of the change of use because of the impact of the loss of retail use/ Impact on key shopping area (assume not applicable to betting offices), and design and external appearance of the building.

You must complete the development within three years from the prior approval date.

Temporary change of use is also possible from betting office to a flexible A1, A2,A3 or class B1 use, so long as no more than 150 square metres is to change use and not on a site of special scientific interest, safety hazard/ military explosives area, is listed/ a scheduled monument. You must notify the local authority as to the use and the date commenced. Site reverts to betting office use at expiry of 2 year period.

For Further Details Contact:

Steven Weatherstone

Director

DD | 020 7409 5477
M | 0771 031 4489
E | steven@marchmont.co.uk
22 – 23 Princess Street, London, W1B 2LU

 

 

Another Successful Acquisition in Liverpool

Marchmont have relocated the client from three separate  properties within the city centre into a single newoffice facility, One Derby Square, located  in the  heart of Liverpool city centre. View Website

Following a full review of their current commercial space and business requirements in Liverpool we helped action lease expires and break notices within the agreed timeline; easing the purchase to bring the different areas of the business together in a new high quality facility.

Our project management and design team at Marchmont took over the assignment, ensuring that our client’s goals were met. The surveyors worked closely with the clients operations teams and finalised the concepts to help create an office design that confirmed that  the business operations team could function efficiently, create an enhanced working environment  for the staff and  furthermore simplify the local offer for clients this new facility.  The team managed the contractors fit out and organised the move of all three offices into the new installation.

This was a good example of Marchmont and the client’s in-house team working together and drawing on all the skills and resources offered by both parties, a truly start to finish service for the client.

We continue to work with a number of retail and corporate clients property portfolio initiatives and re-organisations. Our aim  being to really understand their business goals and help manage their property interests to succeed on this basis.

Kevin Davies a Director at Marchmont explains: “The North East is becoming a very important aspect of our commercial property activity and we estimate that this part of the UK will generate approximately 15% of our workload over the next 5 years”

He also mentions that the commercial property sector is showing signs of a strong recovery in the North East: “at Marchmont, we like to be recognised for our commitment as well as the trust and faith our clients have on all of us to drive their processes with high quality of the portfolios we work on”.

If you are looking for a trusted property advisor to help with the operation of your property portfolio, please get in touch with Kevin Davies

DD | 020 7409 5478
M | 0780 140 1228
E | kevin@marchmont.co.uk

A Progressive Budget?

ASHLEY MILLER LOOKS AT POST ELECTION STABILITY FOR THE PROPERTY MARKET

The dust has settled and following a huge amount of bad polls (none of which were correct) Ashley Miller takes an overview of the 2015 Election Results.

  • Seemingly, a first Conservative majority for 18 years, was just what the property market required
  • Stability and avoidance of a mansion tax or rent controls will not turn the tap on the wealth of cash ready to spend in London and the UK
  • Only concerns are commitment to tighter spending and deficit reduction, could mean even less planning applications and urban regeneration schemes
  • Marchmont prediction 2015/16 a continued frenzy in London and South East, with growing optimism in regional Cities

 

Ashley explains: “It was hard to talk to anyone from the business community that seemed to feel a Labour Government would do anything other than add red tape and new challenges, with surveyors, asset managers and people from the property sector seemed “concerned” to say the very least. The mansion tax had all the hallmarks of 70’s socialism and although the sector has stabilised since the introduction of dead rates and the commercial property downturn, the private sector really needs freedom to unlock it’s potential and allow the sector to invest and improve”