Liskeard “gratuitous greed’ as landlords try to cash in on Portas Pilot Status

Retail Week

Landlords have been accused of taking advantage of the status of those town centres picked as Portas Pilots by pushing up the sale price of vacant shops.

 The Mayor of Liskeard in Cornwall has accused the sellers of “gratuitous greed and insensitivity” for trying to force up property prices when small retailers are already struggling to pay high rents.

Liskeard in Cornwall is one of the 12 areas chosen to trial recommendations made by self-styled retail guru Mary Portas, who was commissioned by the Government to help boost struggling high streets.

Since Government revealed Liskeard was on the list of chosen town centres, two landlords of empty shops that have been on the market for some time have increased the asking price for their properties. An owner of one shop has increased the asking price from £275,000 to £300,000.

Liskeard’s mayor Tony Powell told the Daily Telegraph: “They are trying to take advantage of this. They will get knocked back straightaway. But it does seem to me an act of gratuitous greed and insensitivity. It’s horrible.

“Success breeds success and there are always people who will try to jump on the back of it and make something out of it.”

Powell said he doubts the sellers will get their asking prices.

Liskeard plans to use the £100,000 Government cash to turn empty shops into art venues and plans to redecorate pubic toilets.

Is your Roof Insured against Climate Change? -‘Diurnal Drift’ causes Roof Collapse for Will Self and Neighbours

Four houses in a terrace in a Stockwell South London Conservation Area will need to rebuild their roofs after a collapse.  One of them is owned by Will Self.

The unlikely cause – Evening Standard

The writer and his family were among those evacuated after bricks, masonry and other debris fell from the properties on Tuesday evening when the roofs crumbled.

Today structural engineers told residents the collapse could be a result of “diurnal drift” – which is the change in temperature over the preceding 24 hours.

On Tuesday the capital experienced the hottest day of 2012, with temperatures rising to nearly 26C – 17C higher than the lowest temperature the day before.

The home of the Solicitor General, Edward Garnier, MP, was among those affected.

His wife, Anna, 57, said: “There were meetings on the site all day yesterday. The engineers have been wonderful. They told us that they think it happened as a result of diurnal drift – which is the change in temperature.”…

Will Self’s wife, Guardian columnist Deborah Orr, last night voiced concerns that insurers would not cover the incident.

Tweeting about a future claim, she said: “The bummer is the insurers are very reluctant”

Early reports claimed the cause of the collapse could be “wear and tear”, which is not covered by insurance, but it is unclear whether the heatwave would be deemed “an act of God”, which would not be covered either.

Just try challenging the Solictor General on the insurance policy fine print, just try.  Is your roof insured against global warming?

Government Privatises Flood Defence – Households must pay for their own

The Guardian reports that at a conference this week the flooding minister Richard Benyon has announced that the government will not renew the Statement of Principles that ensures that cover is renewed in the most at risk area (1 in 75 or more) if flood defences are planned within 5 years.  The quid pro qou with the last government was of course significant investment in flood defences – so this is just a cover for cuts.  The Minister has stated that it did not cover most households, but this is disingenuous as it was only ever intended to guarantee insurance to those who would otherwise have greatest difficulty in obtaining it.

The insurance industry believes the government has now reneged on its part of the deal and consequently it does not want to continue with the agreement, a situation that leaves thousands of households at risk of becoming uninsured by next summer.

Benyon said households should instead be encouraged to invest in their own flood defences, including the installation of air brick covers, non-return valves and seals for cat flaps.

Gavin Shuker, the shadow minister for water and waste, said: “‘This Tory-led government is playing Russian roulette with people’s homes and livelihoods. …Ultimately, catastrophic risk resides with us all – a denial of this basic political principle is like trying to deny gravity. It is short-sightedness of the worst kind. We need leadership from government in ensuring the flood investment is made, and to put in place a framework that will ensure high-risk homes are able to access the protection they need.”

The answer surely is to provide a national insurance scheme for natural hazards, funded by a levy on all property insurance, as in the States, France and the Netherlands.

Whilst the High Street Struggles Steak Bakes Boom

Property Mall

Greggs to open 90 net new stores in 2012 after strong trading

* Christmas and New Year trading period total sales up 10.8%, like-for-like sales up 5.1%

* Financial year 2011 total sales up 5.8%, like-for-like sales up 1.4%

* Record shop opening programme, adding 84 net new shops during 2011

* On track to deliver 2011 results in line with expectations

Chief Executive Ken McMeikan comments:
“An excellent Christmas boosted our sales performance at the end of a tough year for high streets. For the five week Christmas and New Year trading period ending 7 January 2012, total sales grew by 10.8 per cent and like-for-like sales by 5.1 per cent.

“For our financial year as a whole (52 weeks ending 31 December 2011) total sales grew by 5.8 per cent and like-for-like sales by 1.4 per cent.

“During the year we opened a record 98 new shops and delivered a net increase of 84, after 14 closures, to give us a total of 1,571 shops at 31 December 2011. We also completed 170 shop refurbishments. Our continued expansion created some 800 new jobs, lifting our total employee numbers above 20,000 for the first time.

“We anticipate that the tough trading environment will continue during 2012, with consumers’ disposable incomes remaining under pressure. We will therefore continue to focus on maximising our customer appeal through product innovation and strong promotional activity, building on Greggs’ already excellent reputation for value.

“We expect another year of marginally positive like-for-like sales growth in 2012 while total sales will benefit from the opening of around 90 net new shops, creating a further 800 new retail jobs and making Greggs even more accessible to customers across the UK.”

Though to my mind if Greggs want to crack it nationally they should purchase the Percy Ingle chain – whose bakes are far superior.

A London Commercial Property Bubble?


Investment volumes for 2011 grew 10pc on the previous year to £10.9bn as landmark buildings such as Tower 42 were acquired by foreign investors. A rush of deals worth £1.75bn were completed in the City in the final quarter of the year – despite the eurozone crisis worsening – as a wave of assets were put up for sale by Western institutions.

Property agent Cushman & Wakefield said £6.3bn of deals were transacted in the City, compared with £4.7bn in 2010. Asian investors, including sovereign wealth funds, accounted for 30pc of all deals.

Despite the increase in investment there are concerns that a bubble is developing in the City and West End that could be burst by a downturn in the global economy this year.

Rental yields on prime properties in the City are 5pc, and in places such as Bond Street in the West End they are just 3pc.

According to Knight Frank, demand from businesses to occupy office space in central London tumbled sharply last year because of the economic uncertainty. It said office take-up fell 27pc to 11m sq ft.

Few businesses in central London, particularly in the vital financial services sector, are expanding.

Developers such as Land Securities have started skyscraper projects to target companies whose leases expire at their existing office buildings. However, companies have been unwilling to commit to pre-lets at developments because of the economic environment.Clive Bull, head of central London investment at Cushman, said 2012 will be “tough” but that international investors will still target deals in London.

30% of all retail stock is now redundant – Jones Lang LaSalle

In its first annual property forecast since its merger with King Sturge it warned that the only in-town locations not to undergo decline would be central London and the top 20 regional destinations.

JLL calculates that 30 per cent of all retail stock is now redundant and needs to be recycled. But on a positive note this will present opportunities for food stores, cinemas and residential to come back into the town centre.

According to JLL research, 50 per cent of all retail leases are set to expire between now and 2015, with half of those expiring in 2012 and 2013. This includes some major chunks of retail real estate including schemes such as Hammerson’s West Quay in Southampton. Some retailers like Arcadia have already signalled their intention not to renew leases. And according to Grainger retailers like Dixons are only renewing if they can negotiate a flexible deal with the landlord, often involving a £1 headline rent with a turnover top-up.

Secondary locations are most at risk, according to JLL, and often landlords’ concessions are not enough to convince retailers to stay. Because rateable values have not been revealed since 2008, in many towns rates payable now exceed the rent on a new letting.

But out-of-town the picture is brighter, and JLL forecast a surge in development activity as landlords redevelop second-generation retail parks built in the 1980s with new units to captalise on strong demand from high street retailers such as John Lewis, Marks & Spencers and Debenhams.

My retail media

Land Securities propose 30 acre development at Kodak North Harrow

CoStar News

Land Securities has lodged its plans for a major mixed-use redevelopment of around 30 acres of the giant Kodak site in Harrow, Middlesex.

..outline plans to build a mix of 985 homes along with industrial units, shops, community facilities and cafes as part of a 10-year development of the site at Harrow View.

The 60-acre site has been home to Kodak for more than 120 years and is currently used for the production of photographic paper. Kodak is carrying out a phased consolidation onto a smaller site freeing up land for development in partnership with LandSecs.

The first two phases to be developed would be a 10-acre site that has already been cleared in the south-eastern corner and the 20 adjacent acres occupied by a vacant sports centre, car park and playing fields.

A health centre, a community centre, a care home, offices, a parade of shops and a supermarket along with student housing and a leisure facility will be developed on the 10-acre site.

The remainder, largely occupied by the existing Kodak factory, could be developed in the future if the land becomes available


Cluttons Shame on you – worst property ‘research’ of 2011 on UCO changes

In an act of desperate loying disguised as a press release Cluttons have claimed that local authorities are now ‘resisting’ changes of use from offices to residential in the light of the UCO consultation.

Their own figure show that 82% of such conversions in London were granted permission between 2001 and 2010, but they dont publish any figures for 2011, dont take account of any appeals in progress and dont publish any underlying research – shame on you.

Not research just a rant.

Portas High Streets Review due on Tuesday

Estates Gazette is reporting

Mary Portas’s review of town centres will be unveiled on Tuesday morning.

 The government had been due to announce the results in October, and then November.

This morning, the high street was hit by the collapse of Barratts and Priceless Shoes, with a number of other retailers teetering on the edge.

Chris Goddard, GVA’s head of planning development and regeneration, said the retail property industry has been waiting with “baited breath” for the findings of Portas’s independent review.

“Her report is likely to be far-reaching, and address a wide set of measures that impact on high streets and town centres, from town centre management to parking, as well as business rates and ownership structures,” he added.

Goddard said the review is likely to touch on planning, and reaffirm support for a town centre first approach.

But he added: “However, it remains to be seen how the government intends to reconcile a pro-development National Planning Policy Framework, with a stalled development pipeline.”

The ‘Mighty Quinn’ – from Ireland’s Richest Man to €2.8bn Property Bankrupt



Sean Quins Monstrous Home in County Cavan

Belfast Telegraph

Former billionaire Sean Quinn today declared himself bankrupt at Belfast’s High Court.

It took the County Fermanagh figure, once Ireland’s richest man, 30 years to amass a billion pound fortune in glass, cement, hotels, insurance and a multitude of other business interests after starting out extracting gravel on the family farm in Derrylin in 1973 — and just 15 minutes to go bust this morning.

A court declaration signalled a drastic change in fortune for a renowned figure who was the island’s wealthiest businessman up until just three years ago.

When you borrow £2.8 bn to from Anglo Irish Bank and them use the money to become the largest shareholder of that bank and buy a string of properties around the world you are asking for trouble, especially when that bank collapses under the weight of property debts has to be nationalised render the shares much less than the value of the loan.