Tuesday, 21 April 2015

‘Expanding Horizons’ - RPSA Annual Conference

 RPSA Annual Conference

Today, we are participating at the Residential Property Surveyors Association annual conference, which is taking place at the Kents Hill Park Conference Centre in Milton Keynes.

The conference is focusing on growth - not only of its membership, but growth in the number of people entering the profession, in addition to growth in the levels of work that members can achieve.  It is also bringing together specialists to discuss current issues or updates that are relevant to the residential surveyor community.

Mike Holden, head of client relationships (Surveyors) for Landmark Information Group’s Quest division is speaking at the event and plans to cover a wide range of topics.  This will include a review of mobile technologies that are designed to assist the surveyor community in conducting a number of tasks, including mortgage valuation reporting. Mike will also provide an insight into a range of property and land related risks that Landmark Information Group can help surveyors assess and plan for – which includes everything from flooding to unexploded ordnance!

We look forward to seeing you at today’s event!

#RPSA #RPSAconference #surveyors

Monday, 20 April 2015

“Don’t let environmental risks halt the growth of Smart Cities”

 Cities Convention - BRE
Landmark to address delegates at Cities Convention, 22-23 April 2015,
Altitude London in Millbank Tower

As ‘City Growth Sponsor’ of the forthcoming Cities Convention, Landmark Information Group will be delivering a talk that reviews the role environmental due-diligence plays in supporting the growth of smarter, sustainable cities and infrastructure.

The Cities Convention, which is CPD-event hosted by BRE, invites delegates from local government, town planners, engineering firms, architectural practices and building services organisations, to address and debate a range of issues related to urban development and assesses ways in which cities can become smarter, more efficient and ‘greener’ using smart solutions, technology and data.

Chris Loaring, Commercial Manager for Argyll Environmental – a Landmark Information Group company – will be discussing the challenges of redeveloping brownfield sites. This will include how to identify, analyse and resolve potential land issues, from contaminated land and flood risk through to ground stability, to ensure potential risks do not halt the planned growth of smart cities or related infrastructure.

Comments Chris Loaring: “Managing environmental risk in property portfolios, or land assets, is a real challenge, particularly for established urban areas where new planning applications and development are more likely to centre on brownfield sites.   At Landmark, we have access to the most comprehensive environmental and property data in the UK, and as such, provide a range of risk assessment services to help those involved in managing urban growth uncover any environmental risks at the outset to appropriate steps, potentially leading to remediation, can take place to facilitate development.”

Adds Amanda Brackey, Head of Conference at BRE: “The aim of the Cities Convention is to unlock solutions that are available today to help shape and form the cities of the future.  By bringing together a diverse group of professionals, the event will help inform and provide examples of innovation and best practice, which are geared towards making cities smarter, more efficient and environmentally prosperous.”

As ‘City Growth Sponsor’ of the Cities Convention conference, Landmark Information Group, which is the UK’s leading supplier of digital mapping, property and environmental risk information, will be available to meet delegates and provide demonstrations of its environmental reporting, analysis and mapping solutions, and to showcase the breadth of Landmark’s national land and property ‘big data’ datasets.

For more information regarding the Cities Convention, visit www.citiesconvention.com

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Rise and Fall of Iceberg Mansions

"Beware! Iceberg Ahead"
For owners of townhouses, the opportunity to increase the footprint can be a challenge as outside space is typically at a premium.  The is particularly true when you look at homes located in wealthy London boroughs where not only is outside space limited but also planning restrictions are commonplace, and it therefore requires some innovative thinking when it comes to dramatically increase living space.

In recent years, we have seen a rise in planning applications for subterranean developments, where architects (who are literally thinking ‘outside the box’) create plans for huge underground extensions of single, double or even triple storey basements in order to add significant square meterage to their clients’ homes.

Also known as ‘mega basements’, these extensions have become increasingly popular, yet are also creating a stir with many applications being disputed by neighbours who are concerned about development occurring below their own properties (not to mention the disruption caused by the huge excavation work).

Only this week we saw an article published about a £15m Kensington townhouse that had been painted in red and white stripes, mimicking the style of a beach hut, in an alleged protest to neighbours who disputed a planning application for such a development taking place at the home.

While some councils are now starting to put new rules in place to restrict the extent of basement plans, it does highlight the point that when you’re about to embark on the purchase of a new home, it pays to do your homework to understand what planning applications have been submitted that could impact on your own property.

Landmark’s PlanSearch Plus provides an overview of residential and commercial developments and planning applications that may have a significant impact on the property being purchased.  It also includes other pertinent neighbourhood data, including the Local Development Framework (which will indicate where new applications may be made in future), information regarding schools, population demographics, housing types, average prices and a summary of key local amenities.

By reviewing PlanSearch Plus as part of the conveyancing process, purchasers can be are forewarned about any potential developments that could infringe not only on the enjoyment of their new home, but also its future value.

After all, just because one can’t see any visible signs of development, with iceberg homes growing in popularity, you never quite know exactly what’s happening beneath the surface.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Strengthening the UK’s Resilience to Flooding

As active members of the Know Your Flood Risk campaign, we closely monitor the undertakings of the group in its quest to raise awareness of flooding on a national level.  

This week, we saw Mary Dhonau OBE, the chief executive of the campaign, chair and speak at a Public Policy Exchange symposium that focused on ‘Strengthening the UK’s resilience to flooding’. 

The event, which was attended by Emergency Planning Officers, the Environment Agency, District and Borough Councils, Civil Contingencies Managers, Local Authority Councillors and members of the insurance industry to name but a few, debated ways to design effective strategies to safeguard the UK against flooding, constructing resilient strategies at the local level and the role of the Lead Local Flood Authorities and other emergency services in a flood crisis to support communities.

Confirmed Mary Dhonau OBE: “The symposium was a great opportunity for people with a wide range of responsibilities and specialisms to come together to share best practice, whilst also gain valuable insights into emergency preparedness at the local level.  With the UK’s vulnerability to extreme weather conditions and the increasing number of flooding occurrences, it was a timely event that discussed all avenues of flooding: – from identifying the risks before they happen, to having a robust contingency or emergency framework in place so communities can respond quickly, when time is of the essence.”

To find out more about the Know Your Flood Risk campaign, click here:

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Flood Risk app listed in The Times' "35 Best Apps for Your Home"

On Friday 3 April, The Times published an article on its website that recommended the "35 best apps for your home."

The article provides advice regarding what free apps you should use if you're looking to buy or sell a property, renting or letting a home, taking out a mortgage, making home improvements or even just redecorating.

We were very pleased to see that the free 'Flood Risk' app from the Know Your Flood Risk campaign - which we are members of - was included in the write-up and featured fourth in the listing.

Also included in the Top 35 were apps such as Cell Phone Coverage Map, FixMyStreet, Stamp Duty Calculator, Mortgage Repayment Calculator and My Room Painter.

The full article can be accessed here.

What is ‘Know Your Flood Risk’?
The campaign is focused on helping people identify if there is a flood risk connected to their home or property. It also provides essential practical guidance to enable individuals to mitigate against or prepare for the risk of being flooded.  A free mobile phone app is available that provides a risk rating using data from a number of qualified flood risk specialists.

The website also contains a host of practical advice, guides and tips for homeowners who may be facing a risk or perhaps wish to delve deeper into finding out what their home’s prospect of flooding really is.


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Uncovering Unexploded Ordnance

Today we woke up to reports of a huge unexploded World War II bomb being identified at a building site in Southwark, south London.

With households within the vicinity evacuated while the Army manages the safe removal of the device, it highlights the importance of undertaking Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) assessments at the outset of any building development works, as the probability of identifying UXO originating from the Second World War might not be as uncommon as you think.  

According to the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), between 2006 and 2009, approximately 15,000 devices were removed from construction sites – of which 5% were live.

Add to this, it has been reported that during WWII over 17,000 tonnes of explosive fell on London alone, with figures suggesting that approximately 10% did not detonate on impact. 

Site Assessments:

Help is available to the construction industry: the first port of call is a desktop tool called a Preliminary UXO Risk Assessment. It quickly provides a 'yes/no' answer as to whether there is any risk of encountering a bomb. It has been developed in line with guidance from CIRIA and endorsed by the Health and Safety Executive.

If a positive ‘yes’ output is identified, the next stage of assessment is to conduct a Detailed UXO Risk Assessment. This will detail the type of threat, the size, origin and also takes into account the proposed construction method and how that would impact on risk of detonation.  Risk mitigation measures are then provided to allow construction to proceed.

The ‘Bomb Search’ assessments are available from Envirocheck, part of Landmark Information Group, and are provided by renowned experts in the field of UXO, 6 Alpha Associates.
 Envirocheck Bombsearch - 6 Alpha Associates

Talking about the potential risks, Simon Cooke, Managing Director at 6 Alpha Associates, in partnership with Landmark Information Group, said:

“Encountering an unexploded bomb on a construction site is a low probability but extremely high consequence event, particularly when you take into account potential loss of life. Not to mention shock waves which could spread underground for some distance, causing damage to foundations and other underground works.   As we see it, it is the potential consequence, rather than the probability, which really drives the importance of undertaking detailed risk assessments before any work starts.”

Ultimately, at the start of any new ground works project, the first stage Preliminary search is a must. While the potential risk may be considered small, it is clear it should not be overlooked for the ultimate safety of all concerned.

More details regarding Envirocheck Bomb Search can be found here:

More details regarding 6 Alpha can be found here:

Related News Link:

Monday, 16 March 2015

Flood Defences: what will feature in the Chancellor’s Budget?

Here at Landmark, as members of the Know Your Flood Risk campaign, we are fully behind the latest announcement from the ‘Flood Free Homes’ campaign, which urges the Chancellor to think ahead in terms of increasing spending on flood defences and maintenance, in this week’s Budget.

The Flood Free Homes campaign was launched by the Association of British Insurers, and is supported by Friends of the Earth, National Flood Forum, the Property Care Association’s Flood Protection Group, the BRE Centre for Resilience and, of course, the Know Your Flood Risk campaign.

Its aim is to raise the issue of long-term flood defence investment and land and water management, and so the campaign believes that the Budget needs to “set the tone” for future Spending Reviews so that protection against future flooding is seen as a national priority.

Commenting on the news, Mary Dhonau OBE, who is Chief Executive of the Know Your Flood Risk Campaign said: “Having been flooded myself, I know only too well how devastating it can be! It is essential that spending on flood risk and climate change is prioritised by the next Government. Our infrastructure is woefully inadequate and needs urgent investment to make it fit for purpose for both now and in the future!
Mary Dhonau OBE
Continues Mary: “We set up the Know Your Flood Risk Campaign several years ago to help people understand their current and future flood risk.  We not only provide free guidance on how to work out your potential risk, but offer access to a wealth of guides and reports on how to prepare, prevent or recover from incidences of flooding.   As well as an interactive website and free mobile app, visitors can also purchase a property-specific flood risk assessment that provides a clear picture on current risks related to a property or its wider locality.”