Regenerating buildings: Challenges, Motivation and Advices from Michael Chittenden
Q3. Is it much harder to operate within the Green Recovery and Regeneration realm as a developer as opposed to new build or refurbishment projects? If so, what makes it worth it for you?
Harder in the sense that it requires more forethought and planning, yes, and usually more upfront costs too. But you have to take the long view in regeneration, especially if – like me – you sometimes want to hold onto an investment. The people I work with on the capital side also realise that too. But above all, I want to leave behind me developments that I can take pride in, and that work for everybody.
Q4. What are your best pieces of best advice to fellow developers pondering whether they should consider a regeneration deal? What are the things they should look out for and how can they ensure they keep risks to a minimum?
Don’t do it unless it is ‘your thing’ - meaning you have the love for older buildings and bringing them back to life: that way, the many challenges you will inevitably face will be easier to overcome and the experience will be fulfilling rather than frustrating.
A good architect can make all the difference: try and find one that suits the project and give him the freedom to think innovatively: a new window here or a wall removed there can make the whole project come to life.
Of course, you should run the numbers – double checking all the potential hidden costs, such as contamination, material costs and adhering to tighter planning regulations. Having said that, often the numbers won’t say want you need them to say… sometimes you have to use your gut!