Strategic land and planning
Planning & engagement
|Size of land
|Number of sites
||Midlands, Yorkshire and North East of England and Scotland
|Potential number of new homes
||Up to 4,000
|Start of build
|Anticipated completion of build
In June 2011, we entered into a Land Sale and Partnership Agreement with Harworth Estates, formerly the property division of UK Coal plc. The deal involves a total of 309 hectares (764 acres), including restored colliery land across the Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East of England and Scotland. This has the potential to allow us to deliver between 3,000 and 4,000 new homes across 16 sites over the next ten years. The two companies are working together in a delivery partnership to secure viable planning consents for the individual sites.
The offer and due diligence exercise
Our offer to buy the strategic portfolio of sites provided Harworth Estates with three alternatives that balanced the size of the initial payment (payable at the time of the sale) with the level of deferred uplift payments (further payments linked to securing residential planning consents in the future). The greater the initial payment, the smaller the share of the profit later on, and vice versa. Harworth Estates chose an unconditional £10 million initial purchase price split between the sites, with each having its own uplift payment. This effectively means that the deal is structured like 16 individual land purchases.
While marketing the land portfolio, Harworth Estates made it clear that their selected partner would need to be ready to sign the Land Sale and Partnership Agreement within a fixed 12 week period. We used our in-depth local knowledge of the areas and our planning-to-development expertise to carry out a thorough due diligence exercise on each of the 16 sites within this tight timeframe that included:
- A full legal assessment of the Land Registry title
- Planning assessment and market research
- Baseline technical and environmental assessments (access, drainage, flooding, services, ecology)
- Initial geotechnical assessments (ground condition and foundation type)
- Financial appraisal of the development opportunity
This enabled us to assess the constraints and opportunities on each site before we signed and to reduce the conditions we attached to our offer to buy the land portfolio.
The sites vary in size from 8 acres to 160 acres and are located across the former coalfields in North Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Durham and Scotland – from Dordon to Stirling. We consider that all of the sites have planning potential. It is likely that the majority will be developed between 2013 and 2020. We have to date submitted four planning applications and we have achieved planning consent on three (one in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, Dordon in North Warwickshire and the other in Hugglescote, Leicestershire). We anticipate that the forth application in Stirling, Scotland should gain consent late 2015. In all this will have delivered in excess of 800 plots with consent to the Short-term Landbank.
Most of the sites have been affected by historic mining activity and, since they were abandoned, few have been effectively restored. We have carried out a thorough health-and-safety review of the sites and undertaken the necessary works to overcome any identified dangers. Further geotechnical assessments, together with more detailed technical reviews relating to the provision of access to the sites, services infrastructure and the current environmental conditions, are ongoing on all of the sites. This will give us a better understanding of the constraints and opportunities relevant to the development of each site, as well as giving us the information we need to prepare our planning strategies (including community engagement) and planning applications.
In addition to the four application sites referred to above, since signing the agreement with Harworth Estates, our promotional work has resulted in two of the larger sites (at Alfreton near Derby, and Markfield in Fife, Scotland) being formally identified as preferred residential allocations by the relevant local planning authorities. This means that a planning application for homes would be considered appropriate.
An innovative partnership
Pete Redfern, Chief Executive of Taylor Wimpey, said at the time of the purchase: “I am very pleased that we have agreed an innovative partnership on these high quality sites, which will further enhance our ability to deliver higher financial returns through the development of our extensive strategic land portfolio.
“Our financial strength and track record of delivery makes us an attractive partner for landowners and we look forward to working with Harworth Estates to plan and deliver these much needed new homes.”
Owen Michaelson, Managing Director of Harworth Estates, said: “It has been a pleasure working with Taylor Wimpey on this deal. They put in a clear bid in an open process and, by undertaking early and thorough due diligence, they delivered within an agreed timetable.
Partnership working and adding value
Although we are taking the lead role in securing a development value for the portfolio, the ongoing relationship with Harworth Estates is the key to achieving a successful outcome for the partnership. Together we monitor performance, review all promotional material before publication and discuss each set of planning application documents before submission. Given their past experience in managing and working the sites, and in particular their unique knowledge of the history and potential future coal mining activity around the sites, we are consulting with Harworth Estates in detail on both our technical foundation and infrastructure proposals.
Our relationship is a true partnership where each of us has a complementary role according to our different areas of expertise. This will generate the best value on each site for each of us while delivering well designed, high quality and sustainable developments to our customers and surrounding communities.
To find out more about individual sites please click the 'In your area' button at the top of the page to search for our proposed developments (in the planning stage) and current developments (in build with new homes for sale).