Professional Briefing: Q4, 2011

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►Glimmers of light in the fog

Tony Reddin, senior manager, Grant Thornton

It is the time of year when we reflect on the 12 months just gone and thoughts turn to what the future holds. In the commercial property sector it's hard to think of a time when strategic thinking was more important. The sector is more complex and demanding than ever, and all the players have had to realign their expectations to meet the tough realities of today's market.

►Design Review in 2012

Annie Atkins, programme director, Places Matter!

In early December Places Matter! announced 17 new Design Review Panel members. Places Matter! has offered Design Review in the North West since 2007. In that time the programme has given advice on over 230 schemes, ranging from masterplans, to schools, public spaces, housing, commercial and mixed-use.

►Illegal use of premises – the implications

Nick Symes, head of department, property investors, Reich Insurance Broker

An insurance contract is one of Utmost Good Faith. This requires the Insured to make a full and complete disclosure to the Insurers of all material facts relating to the property to be insured. A material fact is a fact which would influence the mind of a prudent underwriter in deciding whether to accept the risk and on what terms. This duty not only applies at the beginning of the insurance but is ongoing.

►Act or fiction

John Holmes, head of planning, Hill Dickinson

Finally, after an arduous and sometimes acrimonious nearly 12 months passage through Parliament, the Localism Act finally received Royal Assent on 15 November. It may be true to say that, during the final days of debate, attention was elsewhere in the sphere of planning, with the furore over the National Planning Policy Framework consultation draft, a debate which has still to be settled and one which managed to align the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the National Trust, the Morning Star and my developer brother-in-law all on the same side in condemnation of the proposals.

►Core Cities have cause for celebration

Sam Schofield, director, PPS North

Earlier in December, the Deputy Prime Minister launched City Deals – an offer to the eight Core Cities and their Local Enterprise Partnerships to negotiate wholesale devolution of functions such as skills and training, transport, and flexibility over the level of business rates.The Core Cities have been campaigning on this for well over a decade. But despite warm words from government over many years, nothing really changed.

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