Retention of Employment Land and Premises SPD
4.0 The marketing campaign
4.1 The Council's starting point is to retain all employment sites within the built-up area that are considered suitable, in land use terms, for continued employment use. Consideration will only be given to alternative uses where an applicant can clearly demonstrate there is no demand for the site and that it is unviable to retain in employment use. This includes taking into account the potential to refurbish existing premises or the redevelopment of the site for new employment uses. By "suitable, in land use terms" this means having regard to material planning considerations such as traffic impact or impact on amenity, for example.
4.2 In all cases, the applicant will firstly be expected to have undertaken a marketing campaign to determine the demand for the site from business occupiers. Until this has been undertaken, change of use will not be considered. The campaign should be up to date and relevant to the current owner of the property not partially carried out by a previous owner or out of date.
4.3 There are two stages to this marketing process which applicants should follow:
- Marketing the re-use of the site;
- Marketing the redevelopment of the site for employment purposes.
4.4 The Council expects employment land and premises to be actively marketed for at least 12 months before an application for redevelopment or a change to an alternative use can be considered. It may also be necessary to review the effectiveness and quality of the marketing campaign every 6 months.
4.5 Existing employment land or premises that are currently not in use are not, by definition, genuinely redundant and will need to be marketed for employment use. A lesser financial return on investment relative to other development or re-use options is not sufficient to justify the site not continuing to be available for employment use.
4.6 A simple statement, such as "the site has been on our books for 12 months and no interest has been expressed", will not demonstrate genuine redundancy. The Council requires greater detail on which to make a judgment. Typically this will include a breakdown of the marketing strategy which should be prepared by a suitably qualified professional, such as a Chartered Surveyor who is active within, and familiar with, the Hastings employment land and commercial property market. The marketing strategy should bring the availability of the site to the notice of the local business community, and should include:
- The market price and an indication of this price relative to those prevailing for similar premises in the local market, including details of an independent valuation;
- Any reductions in market price made during the course of marketing;
- The marketed use of the site (The Council will expect employment sites to be marketed in a way that identifies all the options available in retaining the site in employment use. This will include, where appropriate, the potential for refurbishment, redevelopment for new employment uses, sub-division, amalgamation or selective demolition (in order to improve the format, layout and access arrangements);
- Details of the site particulars, which should include the
following information as a minimum:
- Good quality internal and external photographs
- A description of the site/premises
- The current permitted use and potential employment uses, subject to planning permission
- Dimensions of:
- the building,
- internal rooms,
- eaves height and door widths if relevant,
- gross internal area,
- size of the total site including any land.
- Services e.g. electricity, gas, water - any other relevant information
- Asking price (see 'Price' section below)
- Any restrictions, conditions and covenants
- Known costs, such as service charges, rateable value
- Any other known items included in sale (note - the price expected for these should be disclosed to the council).
- Terms/conditions associated with the sale & the sites tenure - leasehold, freehold etc (see also 'Tenure' section below)
- Extent of site, shown on a site plan
- Site location including map - the map extract should show the property in relation to the road network
- Contact details for viewing and more information
- Any residential element to the property should be removed or subordinate to the commercial particulars
- Parking availability and access/distances to public transport
- A monthly breakdown detailing contact details of interested parties in the property, All expressions of interest/offers received including rental interest, progress and negotiations undertaken including any offers made and reasons for these being rejected. Where possible the applicant should obtain from interested parties reasons/explanations as to why they were not able/ willing to proceed. It is not sufficient evidence to just quote number of viewings and generalise on the feedback.
- Any variations in the marketed use introduced in the course of marketing;
- Where and how often the site was advertised;
- Copies of advertisements placed. The dates and publication should also be noted.
- Types of client advised of its availability with contact details for them;
- Any variations in terms/conditions on which the site is made available;
- Whether the site availability was referred to relevant support agencies: Hastings Borough Council's Regeneration Team; Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce (1066 Enterprise) and Sussex Enterprise.
- The applicant must inform Locate East Sussex (or any successor body) of the sites availability at the start of the marketing campaign, in order that the enquiry can be logged for this purpose. Contact: Location Services Manager - 01424 205510.
4.7 In all cases, the marketing campaign should satisfy the parameters set above. It is essential that any deviation from the campaign is agreed in writing with Development Management from the outset, as this will save time and costs in the future. If a 'non-agreed' campaign is undertaken or has been undertaken where the council is not satisfied that it is in accordance with what would be expected, it will result in a further period of marketing being requested at the planning application stage or could result in a refusal of permission.
4.8 The Council reserves the right to contact any party who has expressed an interest and to send details of the land/property to any party which it feels may be interested in purchasing/occupying the premises for occupation, investment or redevelopment purposes.
4.9 All of the above evidence should be appended to any planning application. A marketing campaign checklist is set out in Appendix A to help with this process.
4.10 It is important the price of the property reflects the current market value of such a property based on its current condition and use status. If the building or site requires extensive conversion/repairs the price should be based on the unconverted state unless the works are to be undertaken prior to completion.
4.11 The price should not include any potential residential or other non-employment use value. You should seek a minimum of one independent valuation obtaining both freehold and leasehold prices for the building in its current condition/state. The basis of the lease should be appropriate to the nature of the use of the building.
4.12 It is recommended you obtain an independent valuation of the property, from an established commercial source familiar with the local area and with properties of the type to be marketed. Estate agents usually provide such a valuation service, although other sources may be considered if their credentials can be established. The cost of the independent valuation(s) will be borne by the applicant. This should also be backed by evidence. The valuation(s) should be submitted as part of the evidence accompanying the planning application and the Council may ask for justification of the price.
4.13 You should be prepared to offer the property or site on both a leasehold and freehold basis in order to widen appeal and help ascertain the level of interest. Flexible terms, such as short leases, monthly licences and regular break clauses are encouraged. Again any lease price should take into account the current condition and use of the building.
4.14 Advertisements for the marketing campaign should include:
- An advertisement should be featured at least once a month within the Commercial Section of appropriate newspapers, and at least through regional and local publications. Larger sites (1000m² and above) should also be advertised in national publications. Examples of appropriate newspapers include The Argus, Estates Gazette and Property Week (This list is not exhaustive). There may be some publications which are inappropriate for the advertisement of commercial sites/premises, in all instances it is advised that you seek advice regarding your advertisement intentions from the Council's Development Management team. In cases where the property is part commercial/part residential, it is not appropriate for an advert to be placed solely in the residential section of the newspaper.
- Trade magazines specific to commercial property or to specific industries may instead be used if more relevant to the industry. The intervals of advertisement would depend on the regularity and circulation of publications.
- Continuous inclusion on the agent's website, own papers and lists of commercial/business premises;
- The continuous display of a 'for sale/lease' board must be displayed onsite on each site frontage to the highway throughout the marketing campaign, unless otherwise agreed.
- Referral to the local business community, including the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce for consideration of the site's/premises potential for reuse or redevelopment for employment use.
4.15 Applicants should note that the Council will not lightly make a decision that the marketing strategy is inadequate where applicants have adequately addressed the issues identified in this supplementary planning guidance. However it may secure independent advice on difficult, more complicated sites.
4.16 In instances where the Council considers that the marketing strategy employed has been inadequate, the applicant will be advised that the planning application cannot be recommended for approval. The applicant will be given the following options:
- To withdraw the application and further market the site addressing the concerns identified by the Council;
- To withdraw the application and submit the marketing strategy to independent arbitration by a suitably qualified commercial agent agreed by both parties (in the absence of such an agreement to be nominated by the President of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) with the cost to be borne by the applicant;
- To continue in the knowledge that the application will potentially be refused.