“LVA” and Langport and Martock developments
We recently learnt of two major developments proposed for Martock and Langport. In both cases residents have been approached with nice glitzy leaflets. The leaflets are interestingly similar. What struck us was the use of not just an LLP for each venture, but an LVA. Now to be honest we did not know what an LVA was. It turns out to be something called a Land Value Alliance. It appears to be both a generic name for a development. But it is also the name of a planning consultancy and property investor based in Harrow.
This is what LVA have to say about themselves: “Land Value Alliances (LVA) is an investor and planning project manager in UK land and property. We focus on forming responsible alliances with landowners and all other stakeholders to create developments which add value to their communities. LVA’s approach relies on forming alliances with property owners in which all parties’ interests are mutual and aligned. We are a market leading business in the strategic land investment and planning promotion sector. Our portfolio consists of over 60 sites totalling in excess of 1,000 acres throughout the UK ranging from 1 acre to over 300 acres. Within the portfolio, we have land at different stages of the planning promotion process, from sites being prepared for application through to those which are being sold for residential or commercial development with the benefit of planning permissions achieved.”
And The Leveller has discovered that it is behind both the Langport and Martock proposals.
The site in Martock is for 120 homes and is right next to the existing approved Coat Road development. This is also for 120 homes and run by Barrett Developments. That would mean 240 new homes in a spur away from the main urban envelope. Whether or not it is a good idea, the original Coat road development was fought all the way by local residents and the Parish Council, and SSDC Area North Committee. It only won approval because the Regulation Committee overturned the decision. And that was essentially because SSDC could not demonstrate a 5 year land supply. The first Coat Road site was also famously a site that according to the planners did not flood. It is worth including, once again, this picture taken of the Barrett site not flooding:
The new proposed site for a further 120 homes is next door. You’ll be relieved to know that here too, according to the LVA leaflet, “land is at low risk of flooding“. Interestingly, part of the proposals include the provision of a wetland habitat.
The site in Langport is opposite Kelways Nursery on the Somerton Road. This site is being promoted by Langport LVA LLP. It too is not a site that had been earmarked for development previously. They would like to put 100 houses on the site. The site was presented to Huish Episcopi Parish Council at their November meeting. At present the leaflets distributed for the site are seeking feedback.
However there are common themes in the proposals for Langport and Martock. For Martock, LVA tell you in their leaflets that the sites will provide open market and affordable homes. For Langport LVA tell you the scheme will assist in the delivery of much needed market and affordable housing for Langport and the wider area.
Yet Martock and Langport (with Huish Episcopi) are two of the most overdeveloped villages in Somerset. Both communities had in the region of 3,500 people before the current Local Plan kicked in during 2016. To date Langport and Huish have had 456 homes with plans for another 150. Most have not been affordable. That means a small market town has seen a population growth of 45% assuming a ratio of 3.5 people per home.
We know there is a real need for housing locally. What there is not, is a need for more houses priced in the £250,000 bracket. There is a real need for affordable homes to buy. We have seen over the past decade a consistent failure to deliver homes in market towns at a price that local people can afford. If these units were all for sale at a price point of £150,000 it would be hard to argue. There is a real need for these. What we would suggest we do not need, is another swathe of housing local people cannot afford.
There are other issues too. South Somerset District Council now accept that there is 5 year land supply (they actually believe there is a 6 year land supply). This was something they could not previously demonstrate. It has led to the Local Plan being set aside for much of the past five years. We also know, and have reported on, the fact if the government is working on a proposed new planning regime. If that is put in place, South Somerset will be one of the only Districts in the south west required to reduce the number of houses it approves per annum.
There are now good reasons to expect a slowing in the pace of development. Anticipating that, we may now expect a large number of similar planning applications in the coming months. As speculative developments try to get in before the bar comes down.