Real property recovery must have regional roots – St Modwen chief executive tells Lodders conference

London-centric investors are depressing the property market outside of the M25 but failing to understand that it is in the regions where the real recovery will be born, St Modwen’s chief executive Bill Oliver told Lodders Solicitors’ annual property conference.

The event, held at Henley Golf Club, heard headline comments in a key speech from Mr Oliver and real estate legal and taxation updates from Lodders and Deloitte speakers.

Mr Oliver said: “You can understand the flight to safety mentality in London, especially with overseas money flooding into the market, but is it sustainable?

“Back in the real world, occupier demand is low, and it is all about occupier levels and footfall. Don’t look for rental growth, it simply isn’t happening.”

But he said there was also continuing uncertainty for new development over the Government’s planning policy.

“Every new government seems to feel the need to change the planning system, almost as a rite of passage.

“There is a current ‘presumption to refuse’ planning and a major change of attitude is needed,” he said.

The seminar was also addressed by Lodders partner Alastair Frew who discussed the implications of the Competition Act 1988.

“Where land agreements were originally exempted from the Act, all land agreements are now subject to the Competition Act,” he said.

He also discussed the Water Industry (Schemes for Adoption of Private Sewers) Regulations 2011 which came into force in July this year, and its implications for developers and property owners. He was joined by Lodders consultant Michael Orlik, a nationally renowned authority on highways matters who gave an update on this area of law.

Deloitte partners Ashley Hollinshead and Jonathan Clements provided the tax and accountany input on joint ventures, lease negotiations and changes to the REIT regime.
Jonathan Clements focused on the corporate tax implications in lease incentives.

“Understanding the tax implications of the various kinds of lease incentives can help both sides’ negotiating position and help to avoid nasty shocks afterwards,” he said.

The seminar was chaired by George Campion, chairman of Lodders Solicitors, a former partner at Deloitte. He thanked the speakers and those who attended and had filled the room to capacity.