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Adjusting to The C-World

Editor Richard Bowser, talks with property developers and portfolio landlords about the impact of Covid-19 on their business

In the last month or so, as we all know, many property businesses have seen a sharp contraction in activity. In build and construction, many larger sites were shut down for health and safety reasons. However, this has not been the case on many smaller sites but there have been challenges with materials supply and labour availability, notwithstanding for the developer, the obvious challenge: “is anyone buying or renting completed units?”

In recent weeks I talked with three individuals who we have featured in the last twelve months with articles here in this magazine, to discover how their businesses have been performing and what actions they have taken to ensure they ‘adapt to prosper’.

Early last summer, I visited Manni and Romey Chopra at their Reading development project of eight new-build rental apartments, which at that time, was almost completed and about to be occupied by tenants. They were also working on another new-build scheme in Watford on a smaller site, so I asked the couple what had been happening since then and if the impact of Covid-19 had affected their business in recent months.

“Our Reading new build project went well and all the units were let to tenants last summer,” said Romey. “At that time we had commenced work on the Watford project but we also have two other projects, one in Bracknell and the other is in Surbiton, and all (units) are at different stages of build/conversion.

“To refresh, the Watford scheme is a new build development of four one-bedroom flats at the rear of an existing commercial building near to the town centre. We bought a freehold commercial building in Watford on a secondary retail parade with upper floors, all sold on long leasehold. The value-add opportunity for us was that it had planning permission to convert the land at the back to four 1-bedroom flats.

“There have been a number challenges on the build with a party wall, foundations, a lack of space on site for a skip, providing site facilities in a tight space and with the existing building structure.

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