Five Insights Into the Workings of a Land Promoter
By Human Capital Group
18th January 2021
The HCG ‘Good to Great’ podcast series is designed to help UK Housebuilding companies to better understand the market and gain valuable understanding.
Before the advent of COVID-19, our Managing Director, Gerard Ball, spoke to the Group MD of Ainscough Strategic Land, Rachael Ainscough.
During the conversation, Rachael gave an interesting insight into the complex nature of what a Land Promoter does, the evolving shape of the land promotions market, how they work with landowners to secure planning and how that relates to housebuilders in the UK today.
The podcast is available on our website here and is definitely worth a listen to gain a deeper understanding of this part of the sector.
What follows is an overview of Gerard’s conversation with Rachael, as well as wider information about how Land Promoters operate.
1. An insight into what a Land Promoter is
Essentially, a Land Promoter helps to bridge the gap between a landowner and house builder – ideally, they make the situation favourable for all.
Land Promoters invest the necessary time and funding to carry out the technical, planning and design work that is required for a site. They engage with local authorities and residents, connect with relevant stakeholder groups and work with statutory consultees throughout the process.
In recent years, Promotion Agreements have emerged as a very popular choice for both landowners and developers. Landowners are able to achieve higher prices on the land they have, while house builders are able to buy land with full knowledge of what planning is in place and a framework in place.
In a speech at the Land Promoters and Developers Federation Conference – which was held online in November – Chairman of the LPDF, Paul Brocklehurst, stated: “I wish to re-emphasise our commitment as a sector to the speedy delivery of land, to be sold to the widest possible range of house builders and housing associations, enabling the delivery of market homes, affordable housing and community benefits through a streamlined plan-led system.”
2. An insight into Ainscough Strategic Land
Ainscough Strategic Land works with commercial and rural landowners across Britain to help them unlock the value of their land via promotion agreements. It was founded by Martin Ainscough who previously owned a profitable crane business. Upon selling the land from an unused crane depot, Martin realised he had the knowledge to obtain relevant planning permissions, and that there was money to be made by doing so.
The company is based in Leigh in Wigan but manage sites all over the country from Durham in the North to Oxfordshire in the South, and everywhere in between. Generally, they act for landowners who have bigger sites – projects that can carry at least 100 units – but if a site is in a particularly valuable area then they would consider it.
Rachael said: “In recent years, Ainscough Strategic Land has grown a lot in terms of people, projects and profitability. We are fortunate to have a healthy balance sheet, with debts paid off and currently operating on our own cash reserves.”
3. An insight into Rachael Ainscough
Rachael joined the family business in 2011, straight from completing her A-Levels. She worked very closely with the Land Director and Planning Director at the time so enjoyed exposure to a variety of different skills such as acquisitions, sales, planning and she also worked with the FD a lot to “get to grips with the numbers side of things”.
She became the majority shareholder and Group MD in 2017 and is very experienced in all aspects of land promotion, as well as being responsible for the group’s wider investment activities.
4. An insight into how Ainscough Strategic Land has evolved in recent years
On this point, Rachael commented: “As a company we are always very flexible, because every project is different – it is not just a tick box exercise. As such, we are more process driven than ever before.
“The new Land Director we took on a year in 2019 is highly organised so our processes have become much tighter, and roles are defined much more than before.
“It’s definitely a challenge to grow at the moment as the market is competitive, but we are certainly well placed to achieve our goals and we are currently on target.”
5. An insight into a good relationship between a Land Promoter and a Housebuilder
According to Rachael: “Land Promoters can certainly make the land buying process much easier as we will have done all the technical due diligence, made sure the utilities have got capacity, and obtained planning consent that is actually deliverable with viable design codes.
“We can make sure that a site is packaged up to be a cost effective and profitable option for a housebuilder. Unlike other Land Promoters, here at Ainscough Strategic Land, we are ‘delivery-focused’ and always keep the target homeowners in mind throughout the planning process.
“A promotor like us who has got the technical, practical and marketing aspects at front of mind from the moment they first get involved in a site can certainly provide great value to a housebuilder as we can create these ‘oven-ready’ sites.
“We’ve got members on our team who have worked for housebuilders in the past, so they understand it from both perspectives.”
Make sure you check out the podcast with Rachael in full, on the HCG website here.