Retirement home builders feeling the pinch …

“” … Another profit warning at McCarthy & Stone (MCS.L) triggered a sharp share price fall for the UK’s biggest builder of homes for retirees a 18.8 percent decline. …”

Could this be part of the reason? There are no affordable properties being built at the PegasusLife Knowle site:

“The Mayor of London’s Office has today welcomed a judgment handed down by the High Court that has backed the Mayor’s ‘threshold’ approach to affordable housing.

Following a legal challenge by four retirement homes developers, the Hon Mr Justice Ouseley has ruled that the Mayor’s threshold approach, which allows developments to be fast tracked through the planning system where they provide at least 35 per cent affordable housing, is consistent with the adopted London Plan.

The judge rejected claims by McCarthy and Stone Retirement Lifestyles Ltd, Pegasus Life Ltd, Churchill Retirement Living and Renaissance Retirement Ltd that this policy, contained within the Mayor’s Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on Affordable Housing and Viability, would fail to secure the maximum reasonable level of affordable housing.

Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor for Planning, Skills and Regeneration, said; “Tackling the capital’s housing crisis is the Mayor’s top priority and this ruling is an important moment for thousands of Londoners who are desperate for genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy.

“Our guidance sets out a clear approach that makes the planning system in London clearer, quicker and more consistent. I am pleased that the Judge has backed this approach which will help us to turn around years of neglect when it comes to building the homes Londoners so desperately need.”

The Mayor’s Draft London Plan includes the same requirements on reviews as the SPG. The judgment confirms that this has weight as it is an emerging plan.

The judgment also rejected the claims of the retirement homes developers that the guidance should have been the subject of Strategic Environmental Assessment and found that the claims that the Mayor had failed to have due regard to his duties under the public sector equality duty of the Equality Act 2010 were unarguable.”

https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/judge-rules-in-favour-of-mayors-housing-approach

“Elderly and disabled at risk in inadequate housing, human rights watchdog finds”

Owl says: Not to worry – those at the luxurious PegasusLife development at Knowle will be just fine!

“Britain’s planning rules are fueling a housing “crisis” for the elderly and disabled which is forcing the frail to live in dangerous conditions, a leaked report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission seen by the Telegraph has found.

The Commission’s report, due to be released next month, found a “severe shortage of accessible and adaptable housing” with only seven per cent of homes in England offering minimal accessibility features.

It warns that local councils are failing to build enough accessible homes to meet demand and were not taking action against developers who failed to comply with regulations.

The Commission, a human rights watchdog, said that at least ten per cent of all future housing should be built with a growing elderly and disabled population in mind and that local authorities must reduce the bureaucratic hurdles for adapting homes.

The report comes at a time of a growing social care crisis in Britain with many elderly and frail people stuck in hospitals, unable to be discharged due to inadequate housing.

At the same time, younger Britons are struggling to get on to the housing ladder with older people unable to downsize due to a lack of suitable properties.

Following an inquiry into the state of housing for disabled people in Britain, the Commission reported that the “acute housing crisis“ was leaving elderly and disabled people in unsafe homes and leading to accidents and hospital admissions.

The report’s executive summary, seen by the Telegraph, said that some people were forced into “eating, sleeping and bathing in one room” and to rely on family members to carry them between rooms and up stairs.

Local authorities told the Commission that developers are “reluctant to build accessible houses, as they see them as less profitable”, and often failed to comply with accessibility standards.

Disabled older people are being let down and this is a stark reminder that urgent action is needed, which is the least they deserve in a compassionate society.

Despite this, just three per cent of councils took enforcement action against developers who failed to meet these standards, the Commission found.

The report also said that people were forced to wait an average of 22 weeks between application and the installation of home adaptations necessary to live safely and independently, with some waiting for more than a year.

The Commission’s report said that better housing would help ease the health and social care crisis as it found that poor housing led to an “increased need for social care” and “avoidable hospital admissions”.

Responding to the report, charities warned that the lack of suitable housing was exacerbating the NHS crisis as elderly and disabled people were forced to stay in hospital for longer due to a lack of safe accommodation.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said: “Providing accessible homes must be seen as core to reducing pressure on social care and the NHS.

“If these recommendations are implemented they will help many more older and disabled people to receive care and support at home.”

She added: “It’s vital that we build safe, accessible, high quality homes that work for all generations and that don’t undermine our ability to stay independent as we get older.”

George McNamara, director of policy and public affairs at Independent Age, the older people’s charity, said: “These are some of the most vulnerable people but they’re forgotten when it comes to housing policy. They are being discriminated against by a system that doesn’t work for them.

“This issue is only going to become more important as our population ages and people have a greater need for specialist housing that addresses all their health and care needs.

“Disabled older people are being let down and this is a stark reminder that urgent action is needed, which is the least they deserve in a compassionate society.”

Rob Wilson, former Government minister for civil society, said: “This isn’t a new problem, but this is a timely report and reminder that disabled people face enormous challenges with getting appropriate housing.

“Almost every local authority area faces the same difficulty in getting enough wheelchair accessible houses built.

“The Government’s drive to increase house building is very welcome, but clearly there is much more to do for those with these special requirements.”

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said councils needed “greater planning powers and resources to hold developers to account”.

“Housing is too often unavailable, unaffordable, and not appropriate for everyone that needs it. This includes the availability of homes suitable for older people and people in vulnerable circumstances,” she said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Our new planning rules make clear that councils must take the needs of elderly and disabled people into account when planning new homes in their area.

“We’re also providing councils with almost £1 billion over the next two years to adapt properties for disabled and older people so they can live independently and safely.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/22/elderly-disabled-risk-inadequate-housing-human-rights-watchdog/

EDDC “Council decision to sell HQ for £7.5M is worst deal ever, activists”

Activists have branded a council decision to sell its HQ “the worst deal ever” for taxpayers.

East Devon District Council is selling its offices at Knowle in Sidmouth to Pegasus Life Ltd, one of Britain’s largest retirement housing developers, for £7.5 million.

The developable value of the site – divulged in a response to a Freedom of Information request in January-has been set at £50 million, with Pegasus Life Ltd set to make a £10 million profit.

Pegasus is owned by an American firm listed in the so-called Paradise Papers, 13.4 million confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investments that were leaked to German reporters last year. Offshore investments enable companies and individuals to shelter their wealth and avoid tax. They are legal.

Paul Arnott, chairman of the East Devon Alliance campaign group, said: “Why were councillors never told that our last great piece of family silver the Knowle – would be worth a massive £50 million after development?

“If any individual person in East Devon was told their prime location property could be developed and sold on for £50 million they’d never accept £7 million.”

In December 2016, the council’s planning committee rejected Pegasus Life’s planning application for 113 extra care units, but following a four-day inquiry into the developer’s appeal in November, a planning inspector gave the firm approval for the scheme which includes a café and swimming pool. Sidmouth has been allocated only 50 extra care homes in the council’s Local Plan.

The Alliance said it was an “exceptionally bad” deal, because, in accordance with the old land buyer’s rule of thumb, the landowner of a site should expect around a third of its developable value – in this case £16.5 million.
A council spokesperson said the deal was based on the site’s land value – in its current state. The site includes the buildings, terraces and top car parks.

Moving council operations to Honiton, with a satellite office at Exmouth Town Hall, has a budget of £10 million and is being funded out of the council’s coffers and a Public Works Loan Board loan.

The council spokesperson said that “from day one”, council running costs would reduce significantly when it leaves the Knowle and during its first full year of operations at Honiton it will save £135,000, with savings increasing year-on-year.

The Alliance pointed out that because the proposed complex is considered to be a residential/care home development, as opposed to a general residential development, the developer is not required to pay Section 106 money towards providing community services. The developer is only contributing £12,000 to improve access/footpaths to the site from adjacent parkland.

However, the developer could have to comply with what is known as an overage clause: If more than a 20% profit is made from the development, the council will be entitled to 50% of any profit made over and above the 20%, to a maximum of £3.5 million.

A council spokesperson, said: “We have carried out due diligence on Pegasus Life Ltd and are satisfied that they are an established and successful company suitably financed, capable of delivering the promised development and able satisfy their contract with the council.

“Selling the Knowle and moving offices is key to continuing to serve our communities. Services to our communities are what matter, not the vanity of paying to stay in an outdated and expensive building.

Pegasus Life Ltd bosses did not comment when asked whether any of the profit of its Sidmouth development could end up in tax havens. However, Howard Phillips, its chief executive, said: “We pride ourselves on the quality of our developments and the sensitivity of our designs to ensure they fit in with the area’s achitectural vernacular.

“The UK is in the middle of housing crisis and local authorities need to make cohesive eve plans that meet the needs their local towns. This includes provision for people over 60.”

Source: Western Morning Newz

PegasusLife’s second attempt to demolish New Forest heritage property thwarted

Just one note: where PegasusLife bemoans the fact that they are being prevented from building “housing for older people” it should in Owl’s opinion read: “housing for very, very rich old people”.

A grudging offer of 15 “affordable homes” in the second application should be seen for what it is – an attempt to get their own way by any possible means with as little outlay as possible. Owl imagines – as is usual in these circumstances – that there would eventually be a “viability assessment” that rendered the affordable homes “uneconomic” after construction of the non-affordable properties was well underway.

As an aside: isn’t it time these so-called “viability assessments” were banned by the government and developers forced to sink or swim on their original costings? Imagine buying a house and, just before exchange of contracts, the buyer says: “Sorry, I’ve done a viability assessment of my (unchanged or even improved ) finances and you will have to accept a cut of 30% of the agreed price – and the seller being forced to accept!

“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s only surviving building has been saved by a campaign run by heritage experts.

The legendary author is best known for creating the world’s most famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, but Conan Doyle also designed houses and even a golf course.

After the fiction writer stayed at the Lyndhurst Park Hotel in March 1912, he sketched designs for a third storey extension and redesigned the front of the building.

The hotel sits in the heart of the pretty New Forest, Hants, just miles from his home, and though it has been vacant since 2014 the building is considered ‘highly historically significant’ thanks to his designs.

A controversial application to demolish the property and replace it with flats and affordable homes threatened the site and heritage charity The Victorian Society stepped in to criticise the plans.

Conan Doyle was a regular at the hotel in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The building was originally built as an early 19th century mansion known as ‘Glasshayes House’ but was transformed into a hotel in 1895.

Conan Doyle, who lived in the New Forest’s Brook, was a regular at the hotel in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

By the autumn of 1912 it was given a major face-lift based on ideas submitted by the world famous writer after he visited with his family earlier that year.

He designed the entire third floor extension as well as the new facade and it is his only surviving building.

Property developers PegasusLife have now submitted two applications to bulldoze the site, with both being rejected.

Their first application to build 74 homes for the elderly was declined in December 2016, and their latest attempt to create 75 new houses has also been turned down.

The new application included plans to replace the hotel with 75 flats and 15 affordable homes.

In a report on the bid, the New Forest National Park Authority ‘little consideration’ had been given by the developers to the ‘very cramped’ development.

It said: ‘Little consideration has been given to integrating the affordable housing element within the scene as a whole.

‘It demonstrates a very cramped form of development set around a courtyard dominated by parking with little in the way of amenity space.’

Despite its historic significance, the building is unlisted and therefore unprotected. Conservationists The Victorian Society say it is of ‘paramount importance’ it is saved.

The fact that Glasshayes House is thought to be the last remaining building designed by Arthur Conan Doyle makes it unique, and therefore highly historically significant and certainly worthy of reassessment.

‘In addition, no justification has been submitted to support its complete demolition.’

Speaking when the application was made, Tom Taylor, from The Victorian Society, said: ‘It is now of paramount importance that the building be reconsidered for listing, as that would offer it valuable protection against demolition and insensitive redevelopment.

A spokesman added: [Conan Doyle’s] ambitious redesign transformed the building into what you see today, the building as it currently stands is a near perfect expression of Doyle’s plans.

‘Time is swiftly running out for Glasshayes House, and the risk that it may be lost forever to be replaced with a run-of-the-mill block of flats is becoming ever more real.’

In the planning application by property developers PegasusLife, it said the building is a heritage asset of ‘minor significance’.

PegasusLife planning director Guy Flintoft said the company was ‘disappointed’ with the decision to reject a second application to redevelop Lyndhurst Park Hotel.

He said: ‘We are disappointed with the National Park Authority’s decision.
‘The rejected application included 15 affordable homes, which we would have delivered with our partners at Sovereign Housing Association, a respected provider working in the area.

‘It is disheartening that the provision of housing for older people is so often disregarded.

‘It is disappointing that this amendment to our application has been largely ignored by campaigners – despite being raised by locals as a key reason for the original refusal earlier this year.

‘We will now take some time to consider our next steps.’ “

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5180321/Sir-Arthur-Conan-Doyles-surviving-building-saved.html

“Knowle developer will only pay for affordable housing if profits exceed expectations” – yeah, right!

Over 100 flats selling at around £400,000 or more with massive service charges. Will they make a profit? Of course not – developers never do in these circumstances!

“PegasusLife had argued its proposals should be classed under ‘residential institutions’ – branded ‘C2’ in planning terms – meaning it would not need to make a contribution.

Landowner East Devon District Council (EDDC) had contested it should be classed as C3 for housing, meaning there would normally be a payment towards off-site affordable housing.

An agreement between the parties, revealed last week, shows there is an ‘overage’ clause, so PegasusLife would only pay out if the scheme exceeds its forecasts.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “PegasusLife has submitted viability evidence to demonstrate that the scheme would not be viable if it were to provide affordable housing, which the council has accepted.

“The council has had this information independently assessed by specialists in development viability who have confirmed that the development cannot afford to meet the council’s policy requirements for affordable housing.

“Accordingly, the council has required an overage clause to be included within the section 106 agreement, which will seek to obtain a contribution towards affordable housing in the event that the scheme is more profitable than currently envisaged.

“This approach has been used before and supported by planning inspectors at appeal. If the development is found to be C2 by the inspector then there would be no affordable housing required to be provided.

“However, the Knowle inquiry is still ongoing and is timetabled to conclude today (Tuesday).

“We anticipate receiving a final decision from the inspector in January.”

The section 106 agreement shows that the land is valued at £5.8million.

The deal with PegasusLife is worth £7.5million to EDDC, which will put the cash towards its £10million relocation to Exmouth and Honiton.

The dispute about whether the development should be classed as C2 or C3, as well as concerns about overdevelopment and the impact on the site’s listed summerhouse, led councillors to refuse planning permission last December.

The developer took its appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

The inspector, Michael Boniface, is set to make a site visit this afternoon to inform his decision.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/knowle-developer-will-only-pay-for-affordable-housing-if-profits-exceed-expectations-1-5308352