As a result of our recommendations to Treasury, a broad range of institutional investors are exempt from Government’s extension of Capital Gains Tax to non-resident owners of UK residential property. We ensured properties ultimately controlled by more than five investors were not accidentally caught by a tax targeted at wealthy individuals. We also achieved a specific exemption for purpose built student accommodation.
New residential developments across the UK will soon be far easier to get off the ground, since Government adopted our recommendation to introduce Housing Zones, an idea we first proposed in 2011. Government has now designated 40 zones, split between London and the rest of the UK, offering developers simplified planning and £630m of funding to develop necessary infrastructure and remediate brownfield land.
New major developments will have a quicker route through the planning system after Government took up our recommendation to amalgamate Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) with existing planning requirements. Combining the two will ensure that new major developments are not subjected to a dual planning process that could otherwise have caused lengthy delays.
Our new Healthcare Committee is providing a platform for the industry to raise awareness of the vital role of healthcare premises in improving care. Following the parliamentary launch of the committee and its flagship campaign to unlock investment in primary care infrastructure, we are ensuring that the sector is better understood by Government and other stakeholders.
BPF member Assura developed Market Weighton Surgery’s new premises so it can provide patients with a range of enhanced healthcare services fit for the 21st century. The brand new premises accommodate consulting rooms, training rooms, nurse practitioner, a minor ops suite, physiotherapy and health education, as well as a new pharmacy and the co-location of community services staff within the building.
Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), which will require properties being let to meet a minimum Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) rating from April 2018, will be implemented in a more sensible way than planned. Our representations have ensured that the commencement deadline will be less punitive to landlords, and that Government recognises the need to prioritise the quality and consistency of EPCs.
More build-to-rent homes should be coming down the development pipeline soon, thanks to our continuing campaign to make Government aware of the sector’s importance. Our dialogue with parliamentarians has ensured strong cross-party support for build-to-rent, and Government has taken forward almost all of the recommendations of the Montague Review, to which we contributed, including enshrining the different viability of build-to-rent in planning guidance.
BPF member M&G Real Estate is at the forefront of delivering large scale build-to-rent investment. Its £43.5m investment in a scheme at Victoria Square in Acton will provide 152 units, with a concierge and function rooms, using sophisticated design and modern management services to foster greater customer satisfaction and ultimately longer tenant stays.
In Scotland, through the Scottish Property Federation, we secured a commitment by ministers to retain 100% empty property rate relief for industrial properties. And on the planning front, we supported the introduction of a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which is now enshrined in the Scottish Government’s second consolidated Scottish Planning Policy guidance.
Our newly established regional forums, held in six cities across the UK, are giving real estate developers and investors outside London a stronger voice in the promotion of regional growth. We have also published an assessment of Government growth initiatives, in partnership with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Urban Development, better informing the debate around such schemes.
The city’s Paradise Circus is being transformed by a seven hectare mixed use development, providing offices, shops, leisure and cultural facilities, together with civic amenities, a hotel and new public realm. BPF member Argent is managing the design and delivery of this major scheme, which forms a key part of the new Enterprise Zone and Big City Plan.
Construction regulations will better consider the needs of clients, as a result of our work with the Construction Clients Group on the review of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. We have secured an ongoing commitment to the Approved Code of Practice, which grants assurance for clients, and we further ensured that most client duties are subject to proportionality tests.
In Scotland, through the Scottish Property Federation, we successfully argued for the introduction of a 5% rate of Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (the Scottish equivalent of SDLT) for certain residential transactions, and for the reduction of multiple-dwellings charges for large scale residential properties. We also challenged Scottish Government proposals on security of tenure and rental controls in the private rented sector.
Our new Industrial Committee is giving a voice to the industrial real estate sector in Government and the media. With its manifesto, Industrial Impact, the committee is both raising awareness of the sector’s contribution to the economy and highlighting the importance of creating sustainable communities – that include land for employment – where people can live, work and play.
Thanks to our intervention, Government has taken steps to ensure that landlord licensing schemes are better targeted to clamp down on rogue landlords, without penalising good ones. Rules have been introduced to discourage councils from introducing indiscriminate licensing, requiring Government approval for schemes that cover over 20% of the local authority’s geographical area or private rented housing stock.
Struggling towns and high streets have long seen fragmented ownership as a barrier to growth and success, but we have begun an innovative pilot study to help counter this obstacle. With Government, business leaders and local authorities, we will investigate how joint vehicles, which in many ways emulate a shopping centre’s asset management structure, could be established to help revitalise blighted local areas.
Pre-pack administrations to connected parties have taken a vital step forward to being more transparent following discussions between our Insolvency Committee and Theresa Graham during her review of pre-packs. Thanks to our close engagement, an independent pool of experts will be established to scrutinise all such administrations, helping reassure landlords that the proposed pre-pack represents the best deal possible for all concerned.