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Affordable Housing Expertise

In 2004 Bespoke Property Consultants was set up to specialise in providing consultancy services on viability, S.106 Agreements and affordable housing for developers, RPs, local authorities and Government agencies.

Bespoke Property Consultants provides one of the country’s leading consultancy services on affordable housing and development viability and is often called upon by Government agencies for advice on policy implementation.

In 2005 BPC together with GVA Grimley, authored the Economic Assessment Tool for the Housing Corporation, which is now in use throughout the country in support of planning applications. In 2009 the EAT was updated for the newly formed HCA. BPC works for a wide variety of councils and developers carrying out site specific viability assessments. In relation to this we provide expert witness evidence at planning appeals and Local Plan examinations.

Bespoke Property Consultants consists of seven consultants who are each expert in their own field of development and affordable housing, we are supported by an administrative staff of three people. Bespoke prides itself on being knowledgeable and quick to respond to clients’ needs.

Relevant Experience

Ashford Borough Council

BPC has been instructed to advise on viability on a 300 unit scheme at Conningbrook Park with high abnormal costs, a 6,000 unit scheme in Chilmington Green and the residential conversion of a major office block in the town centre. Our work with Ashford is varied and ongoing. BPC has also worked with the Council to create an affordable housing commuted sum calculator tailored to the Council’s needs and understanding of the local area.
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council

The scale of projects reviewed for the Council ranges from individual residential units to 200 unit mixed use schemes, one of which incorporated upgrading Epsom Railway Station. The sites are generally brownfield and complex in nature, due to the former uses. We have also dealt with enabling development on listed buildings for the Council. We have provided the Council with a calculator for the determining of commuted sums for affordable housing.

We are currently acting as Project Manager for the Council on a 26 unit, mixed use scheme on a redundant site, with considerable technical and social issues, which BPC have helped resolve.

Ealing Council

Work for LBE is generally on large mixed-use schemes ranging from 50-300 units. In particular we have dealt with the Ealing Film Quarter which incorporated a multi-screen cinema, retail and café uses as well as residential, together with the first phase of the Southall Regeneration Scheme.

Hertsmere Council

We have worked on a number of schemes for developers in the council’s area, and they recently asked us to provide a report giving an expert determination where their own assessor had differed considerably with a viability assessment put forward by a local developer. This determination was submitted in a very short timescale with market evidence to support its findings.

Ballymore Properties Ltd

Ballymore have instructed BPL on two schemes, firstly 800 residential units, retail and exhibition space at Leamouth South. This is a multi-phase regeneration scheme in the Docklands with frontages to both the Thames and River Lea. It also has a listed dock gate fronting the Thames to be refurbished as part of the external works. The second project is at Cuba Street in the Canary Wharf district. It comprises 450 residential units in two tall towers.

South Cambridgeshire Council

South Cambridgeshire Council instructed BPC to review the application and supporting information provided by the applicant for the redevelopment of Cambridge Airport, to assess what level of affordable housing and policy level S.106 contributions could be supported. The scheme totals nearly 1300 units and has involved detailed assessment of infrastructure costs and cashflows over a 12 year period in conjunction with Silver DCC and Carter Jonas. BPC is currently working on the next extension to Cambourne village of 1,300 units and acting as the Council’s assessor of the viability review.

Ipswich Borough Council

BPC are instructed by the Council to negotiate the terms of a S.106 Agreement proposed by the applicants on this scheme which is part of a 3,000 unit extension of the town. The proposals includes viability review mechanisms clauses to ensure optimal affordable housing provision.

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames

BPC is retained by the Council to act as its assessor on applicants’ viability submissions. This involves a wide range of schemes varying in size from 1-100 units, dealing with a variety of developers with differing knowledge and understanding of viability within development and in particular in the local area. A commuted sum calculator has also been created for the Council. BPC has provided expert witnesses for Appeals on behalf of the Council and has successfully demonstrated credible evidence for Inspectors to consider.

East Cambridgeshire District Council

BPC has carried out a number of viability assessments for the Council and more recently has been retained to undertake the assessment of the vision and development of the Joint Strategic Masterplan for North Ely, including the potential provision of affordable housing within the Council policy’s framework. This comprises two schemes, totalling 3,000 units, a village centre, two schools, sports facilities and a country park.

Hadstone (Southwark Ltd)

HSL has instructed BPC to undertake the viability assessment of the conversion of the Listed former headquarters of the London Fire Brigade to create a new secondary school and 200 residential units. This is a very complex and intricate development.

Homes England Economic Assessment Tool

BPC is co-author of the EAT with GVA Grimley, providing training courses across the country to local authorities and private clients in the use of the tool within the planning process and in particular at S.106 negotiation. To date BPC has trained in excess of 900 delegates on the issue of development viability and the planning process.

Build to Rent Market

BPC has provided advice to a number of investment funds and developers entering the BTR market. This advice has covered 30 year financial modelling, product type / design and compatible ancillary uses. Andy Leahy, Head of Practice, also acted as Chair of the Viability working group which informed government guidance on the BTR sector.