Is England’s planning system in the wrong direction?

By Victor Alarsa

From a developer perspective, sometimes the UK planning system can be quite intricate and vague. One of the reasons is due to its uncertainty at the initial stage.

Before starting a site negotiation with the landowner, the developer needs to calculate the residual land value. However, to appraise the prospective development, the developer needs to know precisely the maximum number of unities, max stories height, and all other building metrics. That is only possible if the developer officially consults the local planning authority (pre-application), which is going to charge for the information (ranging from a few dozens to thousands of pounds).

That is a dilemma: the developer needs to decide whether it is worth to pay a pre-application fee for each and every new deal to verify the residual land value.

Continue reading Is England’s planning system in the wrong direction?

An overview of the “UK-complex-housing-planning-permission-system”

By Victor Alarsa

Who’s responsible for granting planning permissions?

The planning system is designed to be applied by local authorities. There are three layers of authorities:

  • Nationally (national plan)
  • County councils (regional plan)
  • Unitary authorities such as districts, boroughs or city councils, hereafter referred as to Local Planning Authority (LPA)

LPA is ultimately responsible for designing local plans and granting planning permission.

Continue reading An overview of the “UK-complex-housing-planning-permission-system”

Do you know how to count the number of cells filtering several different criteria using Excel?

By Victor Alarsa

In essence, the COUNTIFS function is used to count the number of cells that meet one or multiple criteria, given a specific range of the array.

You may have noticed that COUNTIFS has an “S” in the end, which differs from its cousin COUNTIF, which is programmed to count the number of cells meeting only one condition and a single range, whereas COUNTIFS accepts several criteria.

The formula is comprised of ( criteria range 1, criteria 1 ), this is the required argument. In case you want to add new criteria, just add after the first two arguments

E.g. ( criteria range 1, criteria 1, criteria range 2, criteria 2).

You could add as many criteria as you want. The criteria range accounts for the array you want to count (highlighting them), and the criteria are the condition to be tested against those values.

Continue reading Do you know how to count the number of cells filtering several different criteria using Excel?

The UK Private Rented Sector (PRS) perspectives and Build to Rent (B2R) opportunities

By Victor Alarsa

The PRS is the fastest-growing sector in the UK properties market. It is England’s second-largest housing tenure after owner occupied, 62% against 20%, as shown below:

Image 1

Source: Alex Bate, Building the new private rented sector: issues and prospects (England), 2017

Continue reading The UK Private Rented Sector (PRS) perspectives and Build to Rent (B2R) opportunities

The benefits of SUMPRODUCT?

By Victor Alarsa

If you are one of those who loves to model using lots of “IF”, “AND” and “OR” functions, then this article is for you.

Let’s discuss the SUMPRODUCT, which literally means summing up the multiplication (product) of two or more different arrays.

For example, if you want to calculate total rental value of a property with different floor sizes and rents per square foot, then you simply need to multiply each floor size by its corresponding rent and sum up everything in the end.

Continue reading The benefits of SUMPRODUCT?

London: Density vs. Price, Challenges & Opportunities

By Victor Alarsa (
& Maria Wiedner (

We are living in the age of the City. Larger and denser cities are likelier to be more innovative and generate more wealth. For instance, as the population of a city increases by 100%, its residents get 115% more innovative, productive and hence 15% wealthier1. This attracts more people, which, in turn, makes the city larger, denser, more innovative, wealthier. This cycle continues up until a point when pollution, house unaffordability, traffic and crime outweigh the benefits of agglomeration, i.e. when a city becomes too large for its own sake.

Density in general is massively beneficial, for example in 2015, London represented 14% of the UK population but was responsible for 23% of its GDP. However, the virtuous cycle of agglomeration needs to be accompanied by a housing expansion, which many cities struggle with. In London, finding housing accommodation is a challenge; land is scarce and restrictions in planning permission deter new constructions. Demand, on the other hand, is further growing as people want to move to London where jobs are available and the clustering of people has made public goods such as entertainment, health and transport more accessible.

Continue reading London: Density vs. Price, Challenges & Opportunities