Known for our development work and technical expertise in dealing with complex legal problems, our Commercial Property team were instructed by a large South Wales housing association in connection with the acquisition of a residential development site for a new build affordable housing scheme.
The work involved negotiating a contract conditional upon an acceptable planning consent being granted by the local authority for fourteen units on site. Part of the consideration for the purchase was the demolition of the existing buildings and the construction of a new building to be used for the Seller’s charitable purposes (the site was owned by a charitable organisation) to the Seller’s required specification. Accordingly, we were required to draft a development agreement to come into effect following completion of the acquisition, including the negotiation of step in rights for the Seller in the event of Buyer default.
We undertook a full title investigation, arranging indemnity policies where necessary for site specific title defects including various ransom strips, restrictive covenants and rights to light benefitting neighbouring properties, which may otherwise adversely impacted development.
We provided the client with strategic advice on infrastructure and access arrangements in view of certain title issues and negotiated site specific indemnities from the Seller, taking into account its charitable status and the necessity to comply with the Charities Act land disposal and acquisition requirements.
We also liaised with the Buyer’s tax advisors to ensure the documentation reflected the VAT and land transaction tax strategies to be implemented for the site.
We were required to provide the buyer with planning advice, negotiating and agreeing a unilateral undertaking with the local authority in a very tight timescale to procure the grant of planning consent in advance of the Welsh Government grant funding application deadline. We reported to Welsh Government on the scheme and on completion put in place a first legal charge to secure the social housing grant.
Our team’s joined up thinking and willingness to link directly with the client’s tax, planning, environmental and transport advisors ensured that this transaction was successfully completed to enable the funding to be procured in the current financial year.
We were acutely aware of the client’s desire to bring forward as many development schemes as feasible, given the client’s commitment to playing its part fully in the Welsh Government’s target to construct 20,000 affordable homes in the life of the current Welsh parliament.
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