Property Roundtable Winter Session

At the end of the year we inevitably become a little reflective over the events of the last 12 months and take the opportunity to look forward to what the New Year may bring. The winter session of the Property Roundtable took place on Thursday, 17th December, hosted by Steph Richards. With a critical eye turned on the property developments in 2020 the panel discussed the lessons learned from 2020 and their views on what 2021 may bring.

The year in review

It will come to no-one as a surprise that there is a sustained emphasis on working from home given the current position of many parts of the UK. The roundtable participants reflected on the benefits of more flexible working, coupled with the re-imagining of more collaborative workspace for when the working population is freed to meet face-to-face once again. Several anticipated a switch to smaller and more flexible office space, with the areas on offer designed around meeting and break-out areas rather than the more traditional approach of simply providing desk space for employees.

Looking forward

From the experience of the roundtable participants there was a strong consensus that residential property developers looking to provide new, good quality schemes in the Home Counties have seen continued interest and activity in these areas, with particularly buoyant markets at present. The panel anticipate that there will be a renewed focus on houses as opposed to flats for the more suburban areas, and that more and more we can expect to see designs reflecting the need for areas dedicated to working from home.

Keys date: 31 March 2021

The end of quarter 1 of 2021 is due to bring in significant changes for the property sector. Not only is it when the SDLT holiday is due to end (for more information please see our article), but it is also the date on which the date on the moratorium on evictions ends, the extended furlough scheme ends and the last date on which residential homeowners with a mortgage can apply for a deferral due to Covid-19. In addition this is the date on which the current Help to Buy scheme will end.

Given the number of significant changes occurring on this date the panel anticipate that those in the property industry can expect a continued high demand for completions until the end of March. Speculation in relation to the SDLT treatment of property transactions rife, with some anticipating that the SDLT holiday may be extended, or even adopted as the standard rates. However with a budget due imminently after the current SDLT holiday end-date, it remains to be seen whether the government will decide to tinker further with the SDLT system. Indeed, with the unprecedented levels of emergency funding granted by the Government in 2020, the budget may seek to re-coupe some of that spending by increases in tax.

Green Outlook

The Government’s recent Energy White Paper outlined the intentions for a push towards electric power in order to achieve net carbon zero by 2020. While some developments already eschew connections to the gas grid, the White Paper includes a suggestion that there could be a consultation on new connections to gas as soon as 2025. How developers and Local Planning Authorities decide to adapt ahead of such changes is a matter the we will keep in review in the coming months.

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This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter

Daniel York
Partner, Real Estate
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This reflects the law and market position at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought in relation to a specific matter.

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