Andrew Haigh of Brown&Co Norwich discusses what’s ahead for regional property development.

During the last quarter of 2023, residential development land fell in value on a national basis.

Fewer sites were sold as there were fewer developers in the market to bid on those sites that became available. The reason for this is generally due to lack of supply, which is driven by a rise in build costs, making developments less profitable.

Some locations do, however, buck the trend, such as north Norfolk where there is a shortage of sites and land values remain resilient.

For example, we are currently in the process of selling the former Fakenham Academy which comprises a listed building extending to approximately 3,400 sq m (37,000 sq ft) on a site extending to in the region of 2.5 hectares (6.17 acres) of land.

To the front is a large grassed area which will be handed to the local parish for the use of the local school. To the rear are a number of former school blocks together with a swimming pool, which are likely to be demolished and redeveloped.

Eastern Daily Press: Andrew Haigh, commercial surveyor at Brown&Co NorwichAndrew Haigh, commercial surveyor at Brown&Co Norwich (Image: Brown&Co)
On behalf of the county council, myself and my colleagues in Holt have been marketing the site for the last couple of months.

Demand has been strong enough that on Monday we received offers to sell the property by way of formal tender, and we are currently working with the county council and deciding which offer to accept.

Particularly in Norwich, apartment schemes have seen less demand than general housing sites on greenfield land, again due to the higher build costs to deliver these opportunities.

However, we are still under the clutches of nutrient neutrality, which has resulted in very few housing schemes being granted planning permission for in the region of two years because of the increased amount of phosphates that are released into the water system.

We actually have four sites in Norwich that are affected by nutrient neutrality; however, it does seem that a solution is on the horizon, meaning these should be able to be released over the course of the next year.

In conclusion, there is a smaller number of developers buying sites, but because of nutrient neutrality there are fewer sites on the market, such that when sites do become available, bidding remains competitive.

For more information, please contact Andrew Haigh, commercial surveyor at Brown&Co Norwich, on 01603 629871.