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Mills & Reeve is the legal partner to PlaceTech, a media platform for explaining technology to property people. The target audience is the full range of disciplines active in the UK property market, at every stage of the process including planning, architecture, construction, marketing, sales & lettings, investment, management, placemaking, transport and user experience. We will be joining Bruntwood, Manchester Science Partnerships, OBI Property and Redwood Consulting as partners.

The PlaceTech platform is to bridge the gap between tech and property and will provide tangible examples of technology in application, explaining how it works and relaying the benefits. PlaceTech will champion innovation and encourage collaboration to drive adoption and create a more productive, better connected property technology movement. This partnership fits in line with our Exciting Disruptors campaign and we see this complementing our ‘Future of Real Estate’ focus.

Access the PlaceTech platform here.

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2017 was an exciting year for real estate as we saw disruptive innovation making an impact on the foundations of the real estate industry. Businesses and governments are having to embrace a myriad of developments, in terms of technological advances and social change, or risk falling behind.

In November 2017, we launched Exciting Disruptors with an event exploring how autonomous vehicles are changing the way we think about the approach to the location, design and planning of new settlements and urban extensions of the future.

The arrival of autonomous vehicles is just one of the many disruptors set to challenge the way we approach real estate in the future. At Mills & Reeve, we work with clients at the forefront of emerging technologies and recognise the importance of being able to advise our real estate clients on issues that will affect the future of the built environment and their businesses. As a full service firm, we are equipped with the expertise and sector knowledge to be able to advise clients on all challenges they may be facing across all sectors impacting real estate.

What’s in store for 2018? Join the Exciting Disruptors community

We have created this community for people like you, who are interested in the impact of new and emerging trends affecting the real estate industry today and in the future. Join the hub and engage with like-minded people who want to be part of the conversation around the future of real estate.

Join the conversation and tell us what disruptor you think we are going to see come to the fore in 2018 and how it is going to impact the way you are working today. Access the hub and share your disruptor predictions before 31 January for your chance to win a bottle of Champagne!

Log on to the hub here, where you will be permitted access.

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The Digital Economy Act 2017 (Commencement No 3) Regulations 2017 bring the new electronic communications code into effect on 28th December with some significant changes for landowners to be aware of.

The new code will apply to existing agreements subject to some complex transitional provisions so it will affect you even if your telecoms agreement has been in place for many years.

In general the new code is like the old in that there is no guarantee that an owner can obtain vacant possession at the end of the agreement.  An owner who doesn’t want to enter into a code agreement can have the rights forced upon them by a court order.

By way of reminder the main differences between the old code and the new are:

  1. A fall in rents owing to a different valuation procedure.  When valuing the land you assume that there is no operator who wants to use the land for electronic communications services.  The government’s view is that the owner ought not to have a “a share of the economic value created by very high public demand for services that the operator provides”.
  2. The operator can upgrade equipment on site and share occupation of the site without the owner’s consent.  The operator can assign a lease without the landlord’s consent though the landlord can require the assignor to give an authorised guarantee agreement in respect of the assignee.
  3. The agreement must be in writing.  Both parties must sign it and the agreement must set out the length of the contractual term and any contractual notice period.
  4. There is no statutory “lift-and-shift” provision.  However, the agreement can contain a contractual provision.
  5. A landlord is not bound by any agreement into which their tenant enters unless the landlord agrees to be bound.  If the operator does not remove the equipment at the end of the agreement, the landlord must obtain a court order compelling it to do so.  This is so even if the landlord is not bound by the agreement.
  6. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 does not apply to code lettings.
  7. Code lettings have security of tenure similar to the 1954 Act but you cannot contract out of the Code

It will be some time before we can assess the impact of the changes to the electronic communications code but, as anticipated, it is operator friendly and careful consideration should be given by landowners before entering into any agreement which may be caught by it.

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Exciting times are ahead for Manchester as the Mayor of Greater Manchester announced his plans to regenerate the region’s town centres on 17 November 2017.  Andy Burnham’s regeneration initiative is seeking to move “.. away from the developer-led, greenfield first approach of the past” with the objective of delivering more high density residential developments with retail and leisure facilities on brownfield land which is supported by transport and digital connectivity.  Andy Burnham said “This new initiative is all about regenerating town centres across  Greater Manchester which have felt left behind”.   At the launch event in Bury town centre, Andy Burnham spoke about his desire to work with each council to bring together housing providers, public and private landowners, developers, community groups and other key stakeholders to unlock the potential in town centres to support the town centre challenge.

The Mayor stressed that whilst there is a huge housing requirement across the region, Greater Manchester needs a housing and planning policy which is not just about the number of units built, but one that is focused on building the right homes in the right places.   He stressed that the high levels of traffic congestion in the region meant that new housing growth would only be supported if it is linked more closely to transport infrastructure.  

It is thought that Greater Manchester may well follow London’s  lead in its new approach to redeveloping existing shopping centres to deliver new homes.    Approximately, a third of London’s shopping centres are currently subject to redevelopment plans which include a residential element as part of the proposals.  Greater Manchester has around 50 shopping centres , all of which are located in areas with good transport links and therefore have the potential to offer the opportunity of delivering the required high density developments.

With over  8 main towns, around 20 other smaller towns and more than fifty significant suburban centres, this new initiative is no mean feat but the Mayor is taking one step at a time and has invited each of the Greater Manchester boroughs to elect an initial one town centre to be improved to kick-start the regeneration. These nominations are due to be in before the new year. 

Here at Mills & Reeve we are excited about this alternative and creative initiative and look forward to seeing the results of the town centre challenge.

 

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On 8 November, we launched our Exciting Disruptors campaign with an event exploring how autonomous vehicles are changing the way we think about the approach to the location, design and planning of new settlements and urban extensions of the future.

With presentations from Bosch UK, Peter Brett Associates, the Homes and Communities Agency, and Easymile the event posed some thought-provoking questions. Issues raised included how and, more importantly, if we will continue to own cars, whether autonomous vehicles will ease congestion and pollution, road safety, data and cyber protection, and public acceptance of driverless vehicles.

Beverley Firth, head of real estate at Mills & Reeve, said: “It was fascinating to hear the ’big thinking’ that is already happening in the industry and the event highlighted the need for a cohesive, joined-up approach to the questions that were raised. We hope that this event and the hub will play a part in joining communities together to openly discuss these questions.”

Scott Witchalls, Partner at Peter Brett Associates, an independent practice of engineers, planners, scientists and economists that are working at the cutting edge of infrastructure planning, posed the question of whether autonomous vehicles would solve the problems of safety, congestion and pollution and how we should or could embrace emerging technologies to influence design.

Peter said: “We currently design around our love of cars but our economy is changing and the next generation are becoming less reliant on their car and demanding better access and more travel options, so we need to be smarter and more flexible in our design approach.”

These comments were backed-up by Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, earlier this month when he announced completely driverless cars will be on the streets of Britain with the next four years.

Stephen Hamilton, a partner at Mills & Reeve and a specialist in the laws around testing and using autonomous vehicles in the UK, spoke about the need to question the ‘one person, one car’ philosophy and how autonomous vehicles aren’t just cars, but also taxis, busses, freight and boats.

He said: “The law assumes that every vehicle shall have a driver and they will be in control of that vehicle at all times. AV is challenging every part of the law from manufacturers, insurers, urban planners and ultimately the buying public.”

The audience also heard from Easymile, who are developing an electric shuttle. Clément Delbouys from Easymile said: “We need to develop driverless vehicles that work alongside more conventional technology. Easymile is already operating in projects around the world including Australia, Dubai and Singapore.

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Our Sports team have written an interesting blog on the development of sports facilities, click here to read in full.

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Following on from our recent post on the Labour conference, the Conservative party conference took place in Manchester last week and Theresa May in her speech promised the “British Dream” for young people.

The reference to the “British Dream” refers to Ed Miliband’s reference in 2014 to the idealistic home ownership goals of the British people. This differs from our European counterparts who tend to favour the rental option and the flexibility this affords. This promise links to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid’s announcement during the conference that he would extend the help to buy scheme.

Theresa May has confirmed that they propose to meet the Conservative Manifesto promise to renew the building of council and social housing, making £2 billion available. Both councils and housing associations will be able to bid for the funds. The purpose here is to provide certainty over future rent levels with some of the homes being built for social rent below the market levels rather than “affordable” rents. This is to tackle some of the problems in areas with high level rents. It remains to be seen how many new homes will be built from this new pool of allocated money. 

Sajid Javid also tackled the hot topic of private rentals, and announced new measures to force all landlords to join an ombudsman redress scheme, which would give individuals renting in the private sector power to challenge fees and poor treatment. It was also proposed that the Government will be bringing in new laws requiring all letting agents to be registered, ending current rules that allow people to operate in the role without qualifications or professional oversight. It was also discussed that new incentives will be unveiled in the upcoming budget to ensure landlords offer tenancies of at least 12 months, to provide greater security for tenants. 

Many will be watching to see what changes are implemented in the property market to meet the increased demand in housing needs, and whether the “British Dream” will remain just that, a dream, for many of British people.

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Insider Northwest recently held a breakfast seminar on the Proptech Revolution here in Manchester. Developments in technology move quickly and, with real estate developments often taking years from inception to completion, it can feel very difficult for our industry to keep up with the pace of change. It’s fair to say that some of the tech developments, such as 3D printed houses, can feel a little ‘out there’.

For me it is easier to see the benefit of technology helping the processes that we go through in order to plan, develop and let a commercial building successfully.

The first panel session set this out succinctly – K2 Architects are using virtual reality to help ‘sell’ their designs to clients, Turner & Townsend are using BIM more and more to achieve time and cost efficiency, Businesswise Solutions use data from your smart meter to save 15% on your energy bills without capital expenditure and Transcendent Real Estate are the first crowdsourcing funder for commercial property in this country. It was the lifecycle of a building from initial design, to funding and building, to building management all in one session, all benefiting from new technologies in terms of cost, time and client engagement.

There were three main points that arose from the first panel discussion:

1. These technologies may have initial cost implications but the benefit to clients is significant. VR can be used to attract funders for example who would not usually invest in the north but are able to view the development proposal from the comfort of their London office.
2. As an industry we will need to work together in a more collaborative way to get the best out of the new tech. For example, the full benefits of BIM in respect of the lifecycle management of a building can only be felt if all the professionals involved feed into the data.
3. There are very few people with the skills needed to help grow the proptech world. The RE industry needs to work with universities and tech creatives to change this if we are to keep up with the speed of change.

Here at Mills & Reeve we are excited about the prospect of new disrupting technologies changing the  real estate industry as we know it. Join the conversation at the launch of Exciting Disruptors by following this link: the-future-of-real-estate-11-08-2017

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Insider Northwest recently held a breakfast seminar on the Proptech Revolution here in Manchester. Developments in technology move quickly and, with real estate developments often taking years from inception to completion, it can feel very difficult for our industry to keep up with the pace of change. It’s fair to say that some of the tech developments, such as 3D printed houses, can feel a little ‘out there’.

For me it is easier to see the benefit of technology helping the processes that we go through in order to plan, develop and let a commercial building successfully.

The first panel session set this out succinctly – K2 Architects are using virtual reality to help ‘sell’ their designs to clients, Turner & Townsend are using BIM more and more to achieve time and cost efficiency, Businesswise Solutions use data from your smart meter to save 15% on your energy bills without capital expenditure and Transcendent Real Estate are the first crowdsourcing funder for commercial property in this country. It was the lifecycle of a building from initial design, to funding and building, to building management all in one session, all benefiting from new technologies in terms of cost, time and client engagement.

There were three main points that arose from the first panel discussion:

  1. These technologies may have initial cost implications but the benefit to clients is significant. VR can be used to attract funders for example who would not usually invest in the north but are able to view the development proposal from the comfort of their London office.
  2. As an industry we will need to work together in a more collaborative way to get the best out of the new tech. For example, the full benefits of BIM in respect of the lifecycle management of a building can only be felt if all the professionals involved feed into the data.
  3. There are very few people with the skills needed to help grow the proptech world. The RE industry needs to work with universities and tech creatives to change this if we are to keep up with the speed of change.

Here at Mills & Reeve we are excited about the prospect of new disrupting technologies changing the  real estate industry as we know it. Join the conversation at the launch of Exciting Disruptors by following the link here.

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