Land agents strengthen team to unlock new housing deals
By hardingsimon | Tuesday, November 06, 2012, 14:21
Affordable housing specialist Simon Parks has joined leading West Country land agents CJH Land, as the Flax Bourton-based firm continues to broker the deals needed to revitalise development in the region.
SimonParks has joined Flax Bourton land agents CJH Land
Simon, who lives near Bristol, joins the company after fifteen years in the housing association sector - giving him plenty of experience of the tough inter-agency negotiations required to push deals through to completion.
He has been brought in to help CJH Land negotiate planning requirements which oblige developers to include a percentage of affordable housing in most new home schemes.
Director Matthew Hiles believes the appointment will help CJH Land maintain its cutting edge over competitors.
He said: "Although the exact amount of affordable housing to be provided within new developments remains a hot topic, we believe it will remain a key issue on many sites for the foreseeable future.
"We have many years experience extracting the best possible value from the private housing element on any particular site and Simon will extend our expertise into the social housing element - whether it makes up ten, twenty or thirty per cent of the development.
"He understands how the sector works and also understands the variables that affect the values that can be created."
Simon has worked alongside CJH Land directors Chris Glover and Matthew Hiles for years - helping local housing associations reach agreements with developers to provide the homes that local communities need – and at values which developers can afford to build them to.
He said: "You need to walk a fairly tight line if you are going to secure meaningful levels of affordable housing on any particular development, especially in some areas where the housing market remains fairly fragile or development costs are prohibitive.
"In today's tough market conditions, the provision of affordable housing can prove to be a major tipping point."
A recent government commissioned report into the private rented sector by Sir Adrian Montague argued that councils should be allowed to waive requirements to build affordable homes in order to increase the number of properties built to let.
But Simon felt any moves to relax the current planning guidelines would be resisted by local authorities keen to see more homes made available to lower earners.
He said: "It seems to me the essential issue is resolving the conflict between the requirements of those trying to increase the amount of affordable housing within a community and the needs of the developer to provide the accommodation without jeopardising meaningful profits."
Simon, who has extensive sector experience working in the Home Counties and London as well as all over the West Country, said: "My task is to liaise between land owners, local councils, developers and housing providers to extract maximum value and boost the number of new homes being built - whilst ensuring that local housing needs are fully met."
Simon has spent a large part of his career working in senior positions for a number of well known housing associations in the region, most recently as Regional Head of Development for Sovereign Housing, and is confident his experience will stand him in good stead in his new role.
"I am also ideally placed to advise on development sites which might not prove suitable for the big housebuilders, but which might be just what housing associations could be looking for to deliver the kind of new homes that people on lower incomes want."