How do Inland discover new plots of land?
The land team at Inland are constantly researching and approaching landowners to source new development opportunities. The most common way we come across potential sites for acquisition is through our extensive and strong network of connections and contacts with vendors, landowners and agents. Over the last 20 years we have worked hard at establishing and maintaining relationships. My land team and I, often accompanied by Stephen Wicks, our CEO, frequently identify and personally meet with agents to build new relationships. Inland also advertise nationally in the trade press. It has always been a strict policy of Inland to conduct ourselves with the utmost integrity and so to behave reliably, transparently and professionally. Our due diligence before signing any contract means that we are always upfront with our business partners, and deliver the agreed services as promised. This is proven in our strong track record, which has led to positive long term relationships, where organisations return to us time and again. Many new opportunities for buying land are generated in this way.
Who are some of these key relationships with?
Much of the brownfield land we acquire has previously been used by the public sector, from hospitals to military bases. The Government has responded to the nationwide housing shortage by providing the impetus to the public sector to release more land for housebuilding. One of the key sources of land for us has been the Ministry of Defence, from whom we have acquired four sites. This is an example of an ongoing relationship where demonstrating our ability to deliver has led to further opportunities.
We also attract and retain relationships with individual agents with our flexible business model, which means we can involve them throughout the process of developing a site.
When an agent introduces us to a land opportunity, we can offer them multiple fees beyond the introductory fee. If we go on to sell the land we can utilise their services again, or similarly if we build homes on the site they can act as agents for selling the properties.
What is the strategy for deciding which sites to purchase?
We undertake extensive research on all prospective acquisitions, involving input from various colleagues across Inland's departments. It is essential that we quickly identify the sites with potential, so that we utilise our expertise efficiently, commencing detailed due diligence on only the most promising and suitable opportunities.
We assess on average 15–20 sites a week to see whether they meet our criteria on a planning, technical and financial basis. Of these, those that are suitable are discussed with our architectural, planning and technical teams, who undertake further due diligence. Only around 10% of opportunities are taken beyond this stage. The land and planning teams then debate the various opportunities that a given site presents and how it fits into our strategy for growing our land bank. This might include considering whether it can generate sufficient dwelling numbers and whether the site location can be exploited strategically, by opening up further opportunities with adjoining land or unlocking further sites in the area. By the time we have decided to pursue a site, we have completed a comprehensive analysis that provides both us and our partners with clarity on our position.