Q&A on Land Strategy with Land Director Paul Brett
Inland's key strengths of our speed, agility and efficiency mean that despite challenging market forces, there is no shortage of opportunities, successful site purchases and developments
What trends or changes in the market have there been over the last 12 months?
The major development in the last year has been the increased housebuilding activity, as more companies respond to the uplift in the economy and undertake developments. This has led to greater competition for site purchases, and an increased pressure on labour and material resources, pushing prices up. It is the nature of our markets to have fluctuations and, as always, Inland remain true to our core values of integrity and openness when dealing with our customers and suppliers. We continue to cultivate strong working relationships which accounts for these market changes. Additionally, Inland's key strengths of our speed, agility and efficiency mean that despite challenging market forces, there is no shortage of opportunities, successful site purchases and developments.
What changes have occurred internally at Inland in the last 12 months?
The Land and Planning teams have expanded this year, and crucially have introduced a Strategic Land department. This department researches and undertakes purchases of sites that Inland have identified as strategically important — land which may be a gateway to unlocking other key sites (such as the purchase which enabled the Wilton Park, Beaconsfield project), or land that in the future may become a prime housebuilding opportunity. The strategic land department is complementary to Inland's main focus of brownfield land purchase and development, but adds depth to the land portfolio, acquiring sites with more of a long term focus. There is a major housing crisis in the UK, with insufficient residential properties available, and whilst brownfield regeneration is a major contributor to the solution, there is not enough brownfield land to solve the crisis alone. Therefore, adding this Strategic Land Department will help Inland continue to respond (in a sustainable way) to the housing shortage into the future.
How has Inland's land strategy continued to serve the company well despite market changes?
Inland continues to focus on its core attributes of expedient and rigorous risk assessments together with decisive action on potential opportunities. Our skilled planning and stakeholder negotiation and flexible approach to realising the value of developments with sales at different stages of completion. By remaining true to the Inland ethos, the talented team at Inland are able to be competitive in different market climates. Inland are retaining the traditional focus on the South East of England; however, the land team are willing to consider sites of outstanding potential further afield, for example the highly successful projects on the South coast. Our responsive and agile acquisition strategy means Inland are well poised to pursue new opportunities, such as those generated by relationships with local authorities. With recent successes in city centre regeneration projects, as well as large developments, Inland will continue to build on this momentum and seek similar projects in the future.
How do joint ventures fit into the land strategy?
Carefully selected joint ventures can bring many advantages, particularly in financing a broader range of projects. Having considered several options, we are very pleased to be in partnership with CPC Group, whose experience in the South East and approach to due diligence and risk matches very well with Inland's. This ongoing complementary partnership and further cash resources will contribute to the opportunity pipeline, and enable us to take on more exciting sites for development going forwards.