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Glen Crump

Glen Crump on staying grounded in land

By Glen Crump

Director, Castle Street Investments

Through experience, connections, and subtle yet skilled negotiation, Glen Crump navigates the complex terrain of land transactions through his business Castle Street Investments.

The land specialist began his career in residential estate agencies in the early 90s working for both corporate outfits and independent agents before landing in land when a colleague set up his own business in acquiring land for clients. Later, working with a developer and then becoming the top national performer for three consecutive years in the corporate agent land role for which he was headhunted, gave Glen the grounding to set out on his own as a specialist in the field of land.

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Who are your clients and how does your business support them?

I consult for landowners, developers, and investment buyers: anything where there's an enhancement on either the land or the buildings.

Landowners come to me with a piece of land, and I’ll look at the options available. I then introduce an appropriate developer, negotiate between both parties, and aim to conclude with a sale or transaction.

No two transactions ever look the same, they're always completely different. I recently acquired a site for a client that was a conversion of a prison in Portsmouth for 84 dwellings – it was a Grade II listed building, and it was very specialised.

I have a whole different array of clients, from investment buyers who will buy unconditional land and take a risk on achieving planning and enhancing the value, to people who develop and retain properties into their portfolio.

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"Raw material prices being on the increase and high energy prices all scale up every element of the development world."

What’s the biggest challenge in land acquisitions and disposals?

Planning is always a challenge: it’s a risk because planning permission isn’t guaranteed so that’s always one of the biggest contentions.

Because of the type of marketplace that we’re in currently, Gross Development Value – the end value once the site’s completed – is also a challenge. It poses a challenge in a rising market, and a challenge in a downturn market.

The other big challenge at the moment is build costs. They’re a big challenge to a developer because they’re increasing and it’s very hard to scope what they’re going to be in the future. Raw material prices being on the increase and high energy prices all scale up every element of the development world.

How do you navigate the nuances and complexities of the development landscape?

There are always specialist areas you need to have knowledge of. Ecology, Nitrates and Phosphates are huge issues along the South Coast. Sustainable drainage systems are becoming more apparent even on the smaller sites which isn’t always possible. Last year new “Part L-Regs” came into force all to do with sustainable housing for “Future Homes” this includes sustainable energy and materials.

I look at online courses and webinars to get knowledge and insight into the way that the industry sector is going, and I do CPD training through the RICS.

It’s essential to stay ahead of the curve and know what’s around the corner because you’ve got to know what your clients have got to go through in order to achieve suitable planning and the costs involved.

I speak to clients, planning consultants, architects, and professional people to get an understanding of where the marketplace is, and if there are new concepts or red tape, what the implications would be for clients in the future.

"In my time we’ve had two and now potentially three recessions, but we've come out of those, a pandemic, Brexit, and the market has always bounced back."

Glen Crump - Director, Castle Street Investments

What are your current insights and observations into the current market and what are you most hopeful about?

The way that I look at it is that for so many years, the government has had a target of 300,000 new homes nationally every year and we haven’t come close to achieving that yet.

We’re in a housing crisis, and because we haven’t provided enough housing for many years, we’re going to be in a housing crisis for a long time in the UK. With any downturn in the market — which currently I don’t think is really a downturn, it’s a correction in the marketplace because people are realising that interest rates were unrealistically low —the market will bounce back and still be stable.

If we had an oversupply, then we would probably have a problem, but we’ve got an undersupply which props up the marketplace in the UK so I’m very positive about that.

In my time we’ve had two and now potentially three recessions, but we’ve come out of those, a Pandemic, Brexit, and the market has always bounced back.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I like kayaking, I do a bit of hiking, and I’ve just been skiing in January: I love being outdoors.

What are you currently listening to, reading, or watching?

A book that I found really interesting is The Airbnb Story. The founders of Airbnb came up with the idea after charging people to sleep on airbeds in their San Francisco apartment when every hotel room in the city was taken during a Silicon Valley conference. It’s a brilliant and very interesting story. I’m now listening to an Audiobook recommended to me by an OBS member called “Surrounded by Idiots” which is well worth reading. It offers a simple, yet ground-breaking method for assessing the personalities of people we communicate with – in and out of the office – based on four personality types (Red, Blue, Green and Yellow). So, try it, then ask fellow OBS members what colour(s) they think they are???