May 17, 2024

Post-Event Update: Holmes & Hills’ Facilitating Development Seminar – Spring 2024 

We are delighted to report the successful completion of our Spring 2024 Facilitating Development seminars held in Chelmsford and Ipswich on the 14th and 16th of May. These first-of-their-kind seminars provided invaluable insights and practical advice to developers, land agents, surveyors, architects, and property consultants, focusing on key aspects of land development transactions. 

The seminars, led by Holmes & Hills’ Land and Development Division, delivered expert guidance on navigating development transactions, emphasising the importance of early identification and resolution of potential barriers. 

Event Highlights:

1. Introduction to Holmes & Hills and our specialist division 

    Rebecca Mason, Managing Partner and Head of the Commercial Property Department kicked off the seminar by introducing Holmes & Hills and our dedicated Land and Development Division. Rebecca highlighted our commitment to providing comprehensive support at every stage throughout the development life cycle. 

    2. The Importance of a strong start and collaborative working 

    George French, Associate, discussed the significance of a robust beginning and how early collaboration with our developer and landowner clients and their respective land consultants can be crucial.  Key points included: 

      • Preliminary advice: Addressing the critical initial steps for landowners that we can assist with to better package their site to ensure a smoother sale. 
      • Heads of terms: Identifying and resolving common issues from the outset, such as ambiguous terms and unclear obligations in the heads of terms, to prevent potential issues or delays further down the line in the transaction negotiations. 
      • Transaction structure: Advising on optimal transaction structures in collaboration with third party advisors such as accountants to help facilitate successful development projects. 

      3. Benefits of carefully ordered due diligence 

        Laura Gale, Senior Associate, emphasised the benefits of thorough due diligence and outlined common barriers to acquisitions and development. Highlights included: 

        • Ordered due diligence: Minimising potential losses through meticulous due diligence practices, carried out in a particular order (transaction dependent), to allow for early identification of restrictions, covenants, and lack of rights and easements which can threaten viability, and mitigating risks.  
        • Letters of reliance and copyright assignments: Ensuring the need for these documents is identified early, and they are in place at the requisite time to avoid issues later in the process. 
        • Searches and surveys: Conducting early SIM searches, title, planning history, and highways reports using assistive AI and creating overlay plans for multi-title sites to uncover potential issues that could restrict or impede development or onward plot sales. 
        • Rights and easements: Ensuring required rights are in place, unity of seisin has not and will not occur, and deciphering whether any new easements or covenants required. 
        • Access issues and third-party threats: Identifying and addressing access problems, third-party threats such as ransom requests, and issues related to common land and town and village greens. 

        4. Indemnity insurance: Potential pitfalls and solutions 

          Chris Milner, Head of the Land and Development Division, provided an in-depth look at indemnity insurance with a specific focus on what these policies provide cover for in practice in the event of a claim and the potential pitfalls that should be considered by developers before a policy is placed on risk. Using an example relating to laying underground services below an adopted highway within the private sub soil, the key insights included: 

          • Importance of Indemnity Insurance: Highlighting the critical role of indemnity insurance in the development sector and how these policies are often used to unlock development sites. Covering the reasons why these products are so popular, namely 1) Time 2) Cost and 3) Policies being generally accepted by both development funders and high street lenders used by plot purchasers.  
          • Common Pitfalls: Avoiding accidental invalidation of these policies through careful management and key tips to bear in mind when insurance is on risk, considering at what stage the insurance should be placed on risk when a need is identified in conditional transactions, and understanding the limitations of what indemnity insurance covers in the event of a claim arising and importantly what it does not cover (for example expected profits on units that can no longer be delivered and business interruption costs). 

          5. Transition from site Acquisition to plot sales 

            Sarah-Louise Green, Head of the New Build Department, discussed the transition from site acquisition to plot sales.  

            She highlighted the seamless collaboration between the specialist Plot Sales team and the Land & Development Division, ensuring a much smoother transaction process. Having access to all necessary documents and information from the Land & Development Division, Sarah-Louise identified how time is saved, early in the transaction, meaning the drafting of bespoke documents and preparation of site packs can commence well before reservations are secured. The integrated approach guarantees that whether it's the sale of plot 1 or 117, the process is streamlined and effortless from start to finish, ultimately maximizing returns for our clients. 

            We extend our gratitude to all who attended and contributed to the success of these seminars. Your participation and engagement were invaluable, and we look forward to supporting you in your development projects. 

            For those who could not attend, or if you have further questions, please contact our Land and Development Division. We look forward to welcoming you to our future events. 

            Stay connected with Holmes & Hills for more updates and expert insights into land and development transactions. 

            Get Expert Legal Advice

            Call 01206 593933 to speak with members of the Land and Development Division.
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            Key Contact

            Chris Milner

            Senior Associate


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