One Year in Covid Conditions
This seeks to give a set of opinions and help illustrate how our practice has coped over the last year in terms of the national lockdown and within the Covid environment.
We, like a lot of other practices, 8 staff and consultants were working from home and who were still able to provide an efficient property service.
When the first lockdown occurred in March 2020, our practice was fully committed and continued to work normally in terms of workload and spectrum, working as a development and planning practice virtually from our own homes.
When lockdown occurred, we like other professional practices, were fearful of what the future would hold. This also inferred how we could operate within the Covid operations, keep our workload up and to give our clients the right professional practice that we wanted to give in an efficient and timely manner. At that particular time in March 2020 the residential property market on the Isle of Wight was going along on an even keel.
Lockdown provided a different set of opportunities and challenges in a way of working with the retail and commercial property market facing a downward trajectory in March with the internet becoming more important with regard to retail sales. We found that shops were closing down. The High Street, particularly in Newport, became a wilderness and a ghost town with many national chains leaving for good, and probably not to return.
Since that time of the initial lockdown, estate agents were closing down in the normal way of working. Many were working from home, furloughing staff, and legal firms were only working on a skeleton staff basis, which meant property transactions were slowing up.
Despite this within the first 3 months we surprisingly were concluding deals over £2.5M on selected development land deals, and investments, creating a commercial return from money sitting in investors bank accounts with little returns from interest from the banks.
Within a short period of time people working from home wanted to stay to work from home, and it was seen nationally at 25% of these people did not want to return back to work. These people were wanting to leave towns and cities and wanted to reside in the countryside and along the coast within their living space without having the need to travel on crowded trains, or within crowded offices.
Like many other rural parts of the United Kingdom we saw an explosion of interest in new property purchases around the Island. In this year volumes of sales have gone up 50%, according to some estate agents, with house prices rising between 10% and 15%. Homes going on the market were being sold within a day or so, rather than weeks, with 2 to 6 purchasers potentially making offers on individual properties, particularly in rural or coastal areas where space was a premium.
During this time I have seen one of the most unlikely property housing booms in my whole professional career of over 46 years. At the time of writing this demand still appears to show that demand is outstripping supply.
This has undoubtedly been helped by Government Covid policy such as Stamp Duty holidays and furloughing.
Over the last year we have agreed land deals on 17 sites in total for over 310 homes to be delivered.
We are currently working on planning applications for 525 homes across the Island, and also over 165,000 sq. ft. of commercial warehousing and office space across the Island.
We are currently working with over 20 local, regional and national developers to help deliver the target of the Council providing over 600 homes a year.
Our turnover during this time has increased, and our client base load has increased by some 20%.
We have some 78 current clients on the Island with regard to planning, development, feasibility, building regulations, contract administration, affordable housing, creation of new community and infrastructure schemes, residential and commercial development, agricultural and rural diversity, church architecture, land purchasing agents for developers, commercial agents in lettings and sale of investment properties, brownfield registrations, museum enhancement, listed buildings and structural work, diversification and refashioning of commercial properties for more beneficial community and commercial use.
We are working on many innovative schemes involving ecological and wilding excellence, community property projects combining living space, biodiversity and affordable housing, seeking to balance sustainability and development building for the future, and taking into account Government eco and green guidelines, working with local councils and the community to deliver the right housing, at the right price, in the right place, for the right people.
We remain hopeful of the market over the next 12 months.
Contract Administration and Architectural Service Support at Spencer Park, Ryde.
Acting as contract administrators and architects, building regulations drawings have been made, the launching of the new development of the first phase of 14 units is taking place.
Celebrating 40 years
Christopher Scott has been one of the largest multi-disciplined Island practice dating back to 1984. Originally set up at Gatcombe House the company is now based at East Quay in Wootton, and employs over 8 people and consultants working as a planning and development practice.