Thames Valley: Developers divided about government support

Independent property developers remain divided as to whether the Government has provided sufficient support to the sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic according to a survey carried out by Thames Valley law firm, Blandy & Blandy.

The firm, which has offices in Reading, Henley-on-Thames and London, found that while 50% of property developers felt the Government had done enough during the past three months and when looking forward, 40% disagreed. The remainder of respondents were undecided.

All of those surveyed confirmed that they are now operating once again, with the majority indicating a growing degree of confidence that the market will continue to recover. 20% said that they expected to be more active than normal when it comes to purchasing new development sites within the next six months, and 60% predicted no change. Only 20% said that they were anticipating being less active than normal.

The longer term outlook was even more positive, with the proportion who expected to be less active during that period falling to 10%, and one third predicting that they will be more active than normal.

And, in terms of progressing existing development sites, 40% expected to be more active and 60% unchanged in the coming year.

Developers did however agree that selling completed plots may be more unpredictable, with 70% suggesting that sales may take longer than they did previously over the next 12 months.

Partner Jane Gunnell, in Blandy & Blandy’s Commercial Property team, said: “Whilst the pandemic has clearly slowed the market down since spring, our team has remained busy and our developer clients have generally remained active in terms of identifying and progressing with development land projects.”

Partner Karen Jones, head of the firm’s Planning & Environmental Law team, added: “In recent history, the housing market in the Thames Valley and indeed much of south east England has remained very buoyant and more resilient to economic downturns and market forces than other regions within the UK. Whilst things will inevitably remain at least partially affected by the situation for the remainder of this year, we agree that there are reasons to be more positive in terms of the outlook for 2021 and beyond.”

With significant experience in advising property developers and landowners, Blandy & Blandy’s expertise is acknowledged through prominent rankings in The Legal and 500 and Chambers UK and in Planning magazine, which this year named Blandy & Blandy among the UK’s top 15 Planning Law firms in the UK. The firm has also twice been named as a finalist for Property Law Firm of the Year at the Thames Valley Property Awards, winning in 2017.