Breaking the mould in the development space


sophia lee avamore capital

The Planning Portal states “most planning applications are decided within eight weeks, unless they are unusually large or complex, in which case the time limit is extended to 13 weeks.”

However, a report written by Urbanist Architecture in November 2020 highlighted that during the COVID crisis, councils acknowledged that the decision-making process was taking longer than usual.

There were several factors which contributed to this; an adjustment to home working slowed things down in the early days and, more recently, the scramble to complete transactions prior to the stamp duty deadline has put pressure on local council more generally.

This combination could mean that developers have struggled to get started on schemes within expected time frames.

What’s more, after a slow year, many are likely to be looking to maximise profitability as far as possible. One option could be to go for enhanced planning but, this hinges on securing the additional option within a reasonable timeframe.

An increasing number of developers may therefore be forced to weigh up their choice to sit on a site with planning or, push ahead with the knowledge that they could have got more from their site.

It therefore falls on the rest of the development market to find a way to propel developers forwards. We know that challenging times can drive innovation, and this is what we are starting to see signs of.

As development lenders, we rarely see ‘perfect’ cases and the nature of what we do means that each needs to be viewed with its own lens.

Practically speaking, it’s not possible to constantly deliver new products to the market but what we have found is that having an openness to take a view on the right deal sets the path for new ideas.

As more nuances emerge in transactions, it also becomes increasingly important for lenders to equip brokers with the appropriate tools to service the market.

Additionally, with many looking to build business levels to make up for lost time in 2020, a solution driven approach is key.

At Avamore, we always look for opportunities to do more and that can be seen through the emergence of our most recent Planning Flexibility Feature, an additional facility for enhanced or modified planning (which has not yet been approved) on top of works already permitted.

Advancements like this provide an opportunity for brokers to place deals stuck on desks while they wait for planning, a problem which is becoming increasingly prevalent.

With innovative responses from lenders to real time challenges, brokers can satisfy the relevant needs of their customer and process deals for themselves more quickly.

When it comes to the development market, it is always a joint effort to work around situations as they present themselves.

The property industry is highly sensitive to macro-economic and social swings and that means there is a lot that we cannot control.

As lenders, all we can do is identify reoccurring themes and find ways to ‘break the mould’ to remain supportive. If we all stay as we are, we will contribute to the roadblocks and, in remaining stagnant, it means that ultimately, we will all fall behind our expectations.