Bromwich Hardy launches Barometer with call for urgent planning reform

Grant Lonsdale, Bromwich Hardy partner Dawn Cooper, Tom Bromwich, Eleanor Deeley and Bromwich Hardy partner David Penn at the event. Copyright Mike Sewell 2024.

Award-winning commercial real estate agency Bromwich Hardy says urgent reform of the UK’s planning laws is essential to help drive business growth.

The Coventry-based firm says the current planning system is choking much-needed commercial development and burying businesses under lengthy delays.

The firm’s founding partner Tom Bromwich was speaking as he launched the 2023 Bromwich Hardy Barometer – containing a wealth of facts and figures about the office and industrial market across Coventry and Warwickshire.

Tom said the agency – one of the country’s most successful independent commercial property firms – had enjoyed a successful year but remained hugely concerned about a lack of supply of commercial space and the barriers developers face in bringing new projects to market.

He told an audience of around 100 property, construction and development leaders at the event at the Riverside Glasshouse in Leamington Spa that highlights for the past year included:

  • Commercial sales of £13.4 million
  • Lease deals worth £5.7million
  • An increase in market share in Coventry to 34 per cent from 25.7 per cent.
  • Doubling the volume of professional work
  • A 12 per cent increase in property management instructions

“Bromwich Hardy has undoubtedly enjoyed a successful year and we go into 2024 in excellent shape,” said Tom.

“But we are also keenly aware of the wider picture in the market and there is no doubt that a lack of new commercial development continues to present a barrier to growth for firms across the region.

“There is some sign of improvement – Coventry is set to see the highest level of new deliveries in six years thanks to the 3.3million sq ft now under way – but it will not satisfy the high levels of demand.

“This is where we need to see a real political will to challenge the status quo. We need to see a fundamental shake-up of the planning sector to incentivise new building and sweep away some of the current barriers to construction if things are to change.

“And alongside this, planning authorities need to be ready and willing to support a broad mix of developments and not just the big sheds which deliver quick and easy wins for them against their planning targets. Without a strategic, co-ordinated approach to planning, we will continue to endure a feast of demand against a famine of supply.”

Tom said reforms announced by the Government in the Chancellor’s Autumn statement were welcome – but did not go far enough.

“It is all very well to introduce penalties for planning authorities if they do not deal with business applications in a timely manner, but if those authorities are under-resourced because of a lack of Government funding it’s unlikely to produce the structural changes we all want to see.”

The event included a keynote speech by Eleanor Deeley, joint managing director of the Deeley Group, and a review of the current commercial property market by Grant Lonsdale from industry data experts CoStar.

Tom told the audience the office market had continued to see a flight to quality throughout 2023 as businesses adapted to post-Covid working, with Bromwich Hardy enjoying a steady increase in both sales and lettings.

Rent growth in the industrial market had been driven by outperformance in the logistics and light industrial sectors over the past two years and a lack of supply would continue to drive occupier demand in 2024, he added.