Meet the adviser: Samuel Blake, Montagu Evans

Wed 1st February 2017, 1:24 pm

What will the role of advisers be at Sitematch London 2017? Samuel Blake tells us how Montagu Evans is preparing for the event

What is your role at Montagu Evans?

Montagu Evans is a true partnership that is approaching its 100-year anniversary. 

Of circa 300 people in the UK, the majority are involved in planning and development in some form, and the firm also does a great deal of work with the public sector. 

I’m a partner with 13 years’ experience specialising in public sector development advice, in the main for London boroughs and infrastructure providers.  

In the wider department of 60 people, along with development agents, valuers and CPO specialists, there’s a whole team (led by Alan Harris) dedicated specifically to public sector-led town centre regeneration, from master planning through to compulsory purchase orders, developer procurement and delivery. We also have a market leading planning team, who is involved in many important public sector led projects.

That’s a fantastic mix of skills.

How do you think Sitematch will help the partnerhip?

I have been involved with Sitematch London since the very first event in 2012, and have assisted it in its evolution ever since then.  Each year it has gone from strength to strength, and is unmissable for Councils and developers alike, wishing to promote development and housing delivery in London. 

Since Montagu Evans is a public sector focused planning and development ‘powerhouse’, it makes a perfect sense for the firm to get involved with this highly focused and successful event.

What would your advice be for local authorities and developers attending Sitematch? How should they prepare for the event?

The event is not just about promoting specific sites, but also about parties getting to know each other, or discussing a particular issue. For example, in 2016 co-living models were a hot topic with new entrants to the sector.  

Developers should think carefully about whom they want to speak to, and while being clear about what they are looking for, be mindful that they will be meeting decision makers looking for developers they can partner with.  

Local authorities should ideally ensure both property and planning or regeneration teams are represented, so that both they and the developers can get the most out of the event. 

As a Sitematch adviser, what will your role at the event be?

Seven of us will be there on the day, sitting with public sector clients, assisting them in the meetings with a wide range of developers.

In addition to assisting in preparation for the event, we will add value on the day by facilitating the dialogue between local authorities and developers, many of whom are known to us. 

We can give local authorities additional insight into these parties and also facilitate sharing ideas and knowledge across their clients, as well as follow-ups to the meetings.

Could you give us an overview of the workshop Montagu Evans will be holding?

A lead planning partner, Nick Sharpe, will be providing a breakout session to share his knowledge and insight into the development process, in particular community infrastructure levy (CIL). 

When CIL was first envisaged, it sounded straightforward enough. However, when I was involved in setting one of the first CIL tariffs at Elephant and Castle, it quickly became clear that it had the potential to be very fiddly.  Developers and councils need to be aware of the pitfalls and quirks when working out and checking they are paying or receiving the right amount of CIL, so this workshop will – I hope – be very useful to them.

Do you think Brexit will affect the relationship between councils and private sector developers?

While there was an initial period of uncertainty, Brexit has had limited impact so far, particularly in residential development where most development sites are in as high demand as they’ve ever been.  However, commercial led development has, in some markets, become more risky due to occupier outlook and this has been reflected in risk sharing approaches and deal structures.

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