Development

A day in the life of a viability workshop

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to attend our viability workshop, carry on reading as we take you through what a typical day participating is like.

The workshop takes you through the full range of appraisal dynamics – not just the financial – that need to be considered when you’re assessing a housing scheme. Below is an account of what happened at a session held at a well-known affordable housing provider.

The day starts with a group of enthusiastic attendees from Development, Asset, Planning and Regeneration departments, all eager to take part in the flipchart discussions, games and training modules that were planned for the dayBy the end of the day, a host of topics and activities had been covered, with lively discussions on both affordable and private housing.

To start, the group are split into two teams ready for the first task:

1. Development Table Task

Designed to find out what development actually means to them, both competitive and lively teams had a good range of knowledge and terminology and were confident in expressing ideas.

2. The Tale of Two Cashflows and introducing Whitney Houston

Moving onto the good old flipchart, referencing affordable housing development viability as ‘The Tale of Two Cashflows’ was very well received and led to discussions about NPV and IRR. 

Why Whitney Houston??

The answer – ‘One Moment in Time’, which focused on how results from different points in time can be compared on the same basis (apples with apples). The ‘Business Plan Basket’ diagram highlighted the wider picture of multiple projects that make up a viable programme, combined with the responsibilities of the Board/Cabinet, leading to discussions about the importance of the Development Strategy.

3. ProVal Place - Phase 1

This sample site proved valuable for new and existing Proval users.  The teams discussed 14 mixed tenure units using the development input from the ‘Tale of Two Cashflows’ diagram, with useful hints and tips given on quick scheme input.

4. Development Risk

The teams demonstrated a good level of awareness on a range of potential development risks and appreciated how a ‘Risk Matrix’ is important in gauging and managing risk through appropriate actions and controls.

5. The Identity Game

This brought out the competitive edge in both teams and highlighted the importance of good branding, which in turn lead to discussions on marketing by housebuilders and the future profile of both local authorities and housing associations as they engage in more commercial tenures.

6. Private Development

Here we discussed why private housebuilders have a different approach to development. We refer to private developers as ‘Traders’ as they deal with short term cashflow, whilst local authorities and housing associations are ‘Investors’, engaging in long term cash flow and ultimately long term reputation. However, these distinctions are becoming subtler as we see wider ranges of tenures being engaged by both sides.

7. ProVal Place - Phase 2 & 3

By using some observations and ideas raised in ProVal Place 1, the potential private sector areas of the scheme were reviewed and suggestions made on how a private developer may reassess opportunities and take the scheme forward.

8. The Gearing Trap

Here we evaluated the importance of gaining maximum sales on the high risk area of private development, with links to profitability and the opportunity to maximise land offers. The gearing effect of a small change in sales value having a disproportionate effect on the residual land price or profit margin was demonstrated and discussed.

9. Mix Optimisation

The concept of plot density for different house types and understanding profitability per type resulted in some great discussions. This, in turn, led to an evaluation of ‘Mix Optimisation’ for a one-acre site and a range of residual land offers to demonstrate the benefits of early evaluation and understanding house types and their costs.

Participants gain a wider appreciation of Development Strategy, Viability, the role of the Business Plan and Board/Cabinet, and the importance of understanding development risk.  

To book your own workshop email alison@s-d-s.co.uk or call 01483 27844

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Alison Shur

Alison Shur

Ali has worked in the social housing sector for over 10 years, gaining experience in ensuring that local authorities and housing associations have the right tools and support they need to achieve their development goals. As a seasoned marketer and project manager she is passionate about advancing the social housing agenda, finding out how SDS can match their expertise to the needs of the sector.

Outside of the office, Ali spends her free time walking her dog, Chewie, and can otherwise be found cutting the rug on a latin dancefloor somewhere!

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