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The UK governments’ recent decision to remove the five-year housing land supply requirements for Local Planning Authorities has sparked debate and criticism. While the Government has stated that this move aims to simplify the planning process and increase the supply of housing, critics argue that it will result in limiting new planning permissions in the short term, and that it may have political motivations aimed at improving the incumbent government’s chances of success at the next general election. 

Yet, the demand for new housing remains high, with Government figures suggesting that England alone will need an average of 300,000 new homes per year until 2039 to meet demand.  For land promoters and house builders, these planning / political changes look to present additional challenges as they work hard to deliver the homes the UK needs.

To meet this significant housing shortage over future years, the emphasis will likely remain on the needs for large-scale urban extensions, new settlements and their associated land assets, which have the ability to deliver high quality homes of all types and at pace.  

These forms of new development require a significant range of specialist technical, commercial, design, management and delivery skills that are often in short supply. Accordingly, the role of the Master Developer is set to become even more critical.  In these circumstances, the expertise of a specialist Master Developer can make a significant difference, providing the necessary resources, skills and the tried and tested knowledge to deliver these complex developments efficiently and effectively.

A Master Developer is like the conductor of an orchestra, bringing together a variety of instruments to create a harmonious and complete piece. In the case of major urban extensions and new settlements, the “instruments” are the necessary expertise, people and resources required to design, plan and deliver a development. By bringing these components together, a Master Developer can ensure that the development is delivered from start to finish, in a comprehensive and well-designed way.

The Master Developer and the client (a house builder, land promoter or landowner), often working in a partnering relationship, can share the benefits of this expertise and resource, reducing their cost and programme risks and increasing scheme efficiency and returns.  The client, by delegating the complexities of the wider development to the Master Developer, can focus on their core business areas and strengths, such as land sales / acquisitions or building/selling the homes. Through this partnership, the client can also ensure that the wider project is delivered to the highest standard, meeting the needs of both the community and the client, leading to a successful development that benefits all parties involved.

In the future, we can expect Master Developers to take an even more comprehensive approach, providing a complete end-to-end service that encompasses everything from site finding, planning and design to construction and delivery.  Sustainability, environmental responsibility and social value will remain high on the agenda, with the public increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of development, and the growing demand for sustainable and green infrastructure. Here, the Master Developers can work closely with the clients, partners and stakeholders to create developments that not only meet the needs of the community socially but also benefit and enhance the surrounding environment.

The future of Master Developers and their relationships with house builders, land promoters and landowners are set to be of increasing importance.  For those that embrace such relationships, new opportunities can be realised. This collective development expertise is incredibly powerful, and offers a real solution to meeting the challenges of the UK’s growing housing needs through delivering sustainable and well-designed developments. With the importance of sustainability and the need for large-scale developments set to continue, the role of Master Developers is only likely to grow in the years to come.

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