David Morris, Planning & Operations Director at Catesby Estates, provides insight into how Catesby Estates maximises land value for landowners, along with updates on new and developed sites from the strategic land promotion portfolio.

How does Catesby Estates maximise land value?

The planning system for residential development can be complex and risky, requiring patience, an eye for detail and significant financial backing.  Landowners select us as their land promotion partner due to our established reputation, financial backing and track record in successfully delivering planning consents.

Housing delivery is a critical part of the economy, and central government has been keen to ensure planning consents are turned into houses quickly and efficiently.  As a land promoter, Catesby Estates do not build houses, and therefore it is imperative for us to demonstrate that our planning permissions are turned into ‘real homes’ quickly.

Catesby Estates are well known by housebuilders for our ability to deliver technically sound and well considered residential land sites. Housebuilders and Local Authorities have confidence that a planning permission obtained by Catesby Estates is deliverable.  This is a key part of our promotion strategy, and one of the main reasons why we are trusted by our partners and stakeholders.

This comprehensive technical input at the early stages, reduces the possibility of expensive delays later in the final sale and legal process of the land, meaning we can maximise the land value for our landowners.

What are some of the sites you have promoted in the past that were successfully developed?

We have a really diverse portfolio of residential sites, across the Midlands and predominately South East of England, ranging from circa 40 housing units to up to 5,000 with additional facilities such as schools and shops. 

Elysian Gardens at Balsall Common provides 115 homes with public open space, close to existing facilities.  Crest who purchased the site from us have done a great job of the build and design of the houses on this site.

Our site known as Penland Farm in Haywards Heath, has been developed by Redrow Homes, who have provided 210 homes, public open space and additional recreational facilities.  Again this is a high-quality development with really well thought out public open space for residents to enjoy.

Our Myton Green development in Warwick, recently reached a key milestone with the opening and adoption of the public open spaces by Warwick District Council.  Due to the size and complexity of the site, Catesby Estates were appointed to deal with the Reserved Matters Application, deliver the site infrastructure, the dualling of Europa Way and the public open space works which were required to bring forward residential development on the site.

Myton Green Park is a mix of public open space and green infrastructure with six equipped play areas including a multi-use games pitch with five-aside football and basketball court, a 4,500 metre network of new footpaths and cycleways along with the planting of more than 250 specimen trees.

735 homes are currently being built out by four housebuilders; Avant, Redrow, Miller and Bovis and our investment in early infrastructure delivery means housebuilders are able to bring forward the construction of new homes with residents benefitting from earlier occupation dates and more established recreational and wildlife area.

How does Catesby Estates ensure the housing that is developed on sites you promote fits in with the character of the local area and supports the surrounding communities?

We have two in-house teams who focus is on design/masterplanning and public consultation. 

This in-house expertise and our approach to working with the local community and using their feedback to help develop our early proposals, means we are able to produce well designed developments that are sympathetic to its surroundings and offer community benefits that have been highlighted as key priority by local stakeholders.

All of our schemes are policy compliant in terms of both affordable housing and housing mix requirements, ensuring they positively contribute towards creating socially cohesive developments. 

You have over 40 sites being unlocked for development, what are some of your most anticipated schemes?

We recently entered into an agreement to promote a significant and strategic extension  to Haverhill, Suffolk. 

Totalling 750 acres (304 ha), the site is located across both West Suffolk and Braintree District Authority areas, and has capacity for up to 5,000 new homes alongside additional community facilities including new schools, local centres, employment and leisure use.

As the second largest settlement in West Suffolk, with direct road access to Cambridge located just 20 miles away, Haverhill has been identified as a key growth area due to its proximity to employment areas including Cambridge, the M11 corridor and Stansted Airport. 

Closer to home we have Woodside Conference Centre and land off Kenilworth Road, Kenilworth, where we obtained a resolution to grant outline planning permission last year. The site will have up to 620 homes, includes 40% affordable housing along with land for a new primary school, allotments, equipped play areas, informal public open space and substantial highway, footpath and cycleway enhancements.

The site forms part of the land east of Kenilworth allocation in the adopted Warwick Local Plan and Kenilworth Neighbourhood Plan.

In East Horsley, Surrey, we also have a site under offer to a housebuilder with outline planning permission for 110 new homes, of which 40% will be affordable housing, along with new public open space.  This in an area where the average house price is in excess of £1,000,000.  Many people who grew up in the village have been unable to find a home due to East Horsley being a highly desirable and expensive place to live, so the affordable housing being provided here is seen as a key benefit of this development.

How vital are land promoters such as yourself in ensuring housing delivery targets are met?

Land Promoters play a key role in increasing the supply of housing, by supporting the housebuilding sector by providing “oven ready” land with planning permission that can easily be acquired and built out by national and regional housebuilder

Land Promoters invest the time and funding needed to undertake necessary technical, planning and design work, as well as engaging with planning authorities, local residents, stakeholder groups and statutory consultees.

93% of homes on sites where the applicant was a Land Promoter were granted by a local planning authority without appeal.  This success rate brings an efficiency to the planning process, saving councils the time and resources of dealing with speculative, unrealistic development proposals. 

The significant investment made by members is at risk. It is this willingness to take on risk to deliver land for housing that makes promoters such an important part of the delivery chain for new housing. Particularly when many smaller housebuilders cannot afford to take on all of this risk alone.

Catesby Estates pioneered having an in-house technical team, how does this help you support your clients further?

As innovators within in the land promotion sector, we were one of the first to recognise the importance and added value, in-house technical expertise can deliver to both landowners and housebuilders.  We nurtured and developed our own in-house technical team, making our skill set unique amongst land promoters. 

Our technical team have a strong track record having worked for major housebuilders, and through their knowledge they are able to bring forward sites with comprehensive technical background work completed, and offer value engineered solutions to any site constraints.

This means there is less upfront risk for a housebuilder, that comes with a land site that has not been fully considered from a technical and deliverability perspective.  This in turn increases the speed of housing delivery, with housebuilders able get onsite and start construction quicker.  

Our successful combination of strategic land promotion and detailed technical approach, results in us securing well thought out, high quality planning permissions that are highly desirable to housebuilders, along with us maximising the land value for our landowners.

What are Catesby Estates most excited to share at the moment?

Despite challenging circumstances as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Catesby Estates business and the wider strategic land promotion business has  adapted well in an uncertain working and economic environment.

Our strategic land promotion business model continued to operate with minimal disruption, and during lockdown virtual committee hearings, proved fruitful with us achieving five resolutions to grant outline planning permissions.

The housing and land market despite unprecedented wider economic issues due to the ongoing pandemic, is buoyant.  As a business we remain optimistic regarding the year ahead, with 6 consented sites, 227 acres and 1,344 homes ready for the market. 

In particular, we are excited that the move to a more digital online based form of consultation will attract a new, younger audience to the housing debate ensuring that the next generation have their say. 

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