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  • Writer's pictureMick Haley

The Developer Architect

In 2009 property developers were pretty thin on the ground, for good reason, the Credit Crisis. Developers were being put out of business on a daily basis. Not great for architects either. A risky time to purchase your first development. 5 lock up garages on the end of a terrace in Kingston Upon Thames with planning permission for a two bed two storey house. Two years later, after some protracted planning negotiations, three flats, all sold and an additional £140k to add to the development pot and an award to boot.

I had become an Architect Developer.

In 1953 Geoffrey Townsend resigned from the RIBA to set up a development company that would eventually be responsible for some of the most successful housing in the country. In partnership with Eric Lyons, SPAN rolled out over 2000 homes in London and the south east. They would inspire just as many, if not more imitators.

It is ironic that the RIBA thought the grubby world of property development was not for their ‘gentlemen’ members, perhaps doubly ironic that I have chosen ‘The Gentleman Architect’ moniker for my new Architect Developer Consultancy.

Let’s imagine that you inherit a plot of land or you are inspired by Grand Designs to want to build a new home at the bottom of your garden or you own the share of a lease in a block of flats that has a roof that is ripe for development…

Who would you contact for advice? The internet is full of agencies who can advise you on your development of an out of town shopping centre or three hundred unit luxury flat development with underwater paintball arena, but I'll wager you'll struggle to find development advice for a single house or three flats.

An Architect, obviously! They would know all about the planning possibilities and what spaces you could achieve, but would they know about mortgages or joint venture partners, development brokers and lenders, conveyancing and land registry, possible restrictive covenants on the site and who to contact for advice?

In twenty years of running a successful architectural practice in central London, I can cover the first part easily, but with 10 years of experience developing very successful small site developments, I can also help you with the second. if you have an idea, give me a call. If its a fun looking project I may even throw in a desktop mini feasibility for free!

Over the next year I will be writing about my latest development, a low energy eco home in one of the very copycat estates I mentioned earlier. Encompassing technologies such as Heat recovery systems, SIPS panel construction and air sourced heat pumps. I’ll take you step by step on the Architect developer journey…

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