Friday, 30 May 2014

#FridayFun: The Fossil Fuel Four

You know a topic is high on the news agenda when it features in The Simpsons. 

Here 'Fracking Man' features alongside a number of other energy-related "super heroes"; all of whom are competing against one another to showcase which is the ultimate source of energy.

In all seriousness, fracking is an issue that we will be hearing much more about in the UK over the coming weeks and months due to Government releasing new proposals related to accessing land for shale oil and gas developments.

The new rules would essentially grant underground access rights that bypass the law of trespass for work that is 300 metres or more below the land’s surface.  The consultation period is open until 15 August – further information on proposals can be accessed from the Department of Energy & Climate Change website.  

For more details regarding Landmark’s Energy and Infrastructure Report, which includes details related to areas licensed for on-shore energy exploration and production, including those licensed for fracking, click here. 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Supporting Tilehurst Gymnastics Club's fundraising efforts

We were delighted to have recently supported Tilehurst Gymnastics Club (TGC) Competition in aid of fundraising for new equipment and premises, thanks to the passion of Landmark’s Internal Sales Executive, Victoria Eggleton.

Victoria said:

“I am an accomplished Artistic Gymnast and, having spent 16 years of my childhood training at the sport, was County Champion in 1995. I love working with children and have been an Activity Leader at School Holiday Clubs for some time. I still keep up the gymnastics, attending adult classes on a weekly basis and am really passionate about the work Tilehurst Gymnastics Club does.  I have been helping at the club since 2012, coaching children of all ages and ability every Saturday. TGC was originally formed in January 2009 and now runs 29 classes a week involving 382 club members and 140 school children.

“The Club recently held their Gymnastics Club Competition in aid of fundraising for new equipment such as springboards and crash mats, as well as to put towards much needed new premises. 

“The competition was an extremely successful event, providing an opportunity for over 270 children to demonstrate their gymnastics skills, as well as allowing their parents to share in their achievements. It has been great to be able to play such an active role in contributing to this worthy cause, and I’m so pleased that the overall event raised £4,500, £500 of which was donated by Landmark Information Group.”

Landmark continues to support our two nominated charities, MapAction and Sue Ryder, as well as backing the efforts of our staff in their own worthy charities and community causes. During our last financial year Landmarker’s raised over £15,000 (Landmark charity matched over £7,500) for a range of charities including: Comic Relief, Coppafeel Charity for Breast Cancer, WaterAid, European Disaster Volunteers, the Brain Tumour Charity, Sands, Parkinsons UK, British Heart Foundation, Children in Need, Help Tom Hear, Prostrate Cancer and local hospices.

Fracking in the Headlines

Fracking has been back in the news again this week as the UK Government has released new proposals that will enable energy companies to access land for shale oil and gas developments, without necessarily needing the land owner’s permission.

The new rules, which are aimed at speeding up the introduction of fracking, would grant underground access rights meaning that firms would be able to ‘frack’ at depths of 300 metres. In return, those living above the site of the well would receive a voluntary payment of £20,000 (per horizontal well that extends 200 meters or more).

This follows the publication of a new report from the British Geological Survey (BGS) that suggests 4.4 billion barrels of oil are located in an area of southern England, which stretches from Kent, through to Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.  While oil is present in the ‘Weald basin’, it has been reported that the ability to extract the oil may prove difficult due to the built-up conditions. Add to this, the report has identified that there is no potential for shale gas extraction in the same area.

With the consultation period now in place, interested parties have until 15 August in which to respond to the outline proposals.  More details on the proposals and how to respond can be accessed from the Department of Energy & Climate Change website.  

Energy and Infrastructure Report

Landmark’s Energy and Infrastructure Report provides an accurate search, for both commercial and residential properties, for a number of selected energy and infrastructure projects across the UK.

Currently the report indicates if the property has the potential to be impacted by any of the following development projects:

·        Areas licensed for on-shore energy exploration and production, including areas licensed for fracking;

·         High Speed 2 rail network (HS2);

·         Existing and proposed Wind Farms and Wind Turbines across the UK;

·         Operating and planned Solar Farms;

·         Crossrail;

·         Yorkshire and Humber Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Cross Country Pipeline

If you are concerned about key energy or infrastructure developments in your area, or for a specific property or plot of land, the Landmark Energy and Infrastructure Report provides valuable data to support your wider due diligence programme.

You can download a sample of the report here.  

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Team Landmark take part in the Ride for Ryder challenge

A team of seven of us here at Landmark took part in the Ride for Ryder challenge on Sunday 11th May 2014. The challenge, now in its eight year, organised by the charity Sue Ryder who provide hospice and neurological care to people with life changing illnesses, started and finished at the Nettlebed hospice in Oxfordshire.

The charity raise funds to help continue and provide care for patients living with incurable illnesses with every £100 funding the cost of a nurse for a 7 hour day shift to provide care and support for patients and their families across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

Overall, roughly 350 people took part in the challenge, up from 100 taking part last year, with three routes winding through the Chiltern Hills to choose from. Carole Ankers, Product Development Director, Marc Littlefair, Technical Support Manager, Matt Dellowe, Development Support Manager, Lisa Middleton, Marketing Executive, Nick Capek, Product Manager, Julian Bedford, Development Team Leader and Nicola Ellis chose to ride the 25 mile course and Ian Clarke, Chief Technology Officer, the 60 mile course. Together raising £1,115 for the charity which Landmark have pledged to match.

The weather on the day was not especially kind, with strong cross winds and the threat of downpour making each mile seem that much harder, but everyone was in good spirits and proud to be supporting a cause close to their hearts. One member of our team, Nick Capek, completed the 25 mile course on his childhood BMX from 1984, in memory of his Nan who spent time in the Sue Ryder home. Two members of the team (myself being one!) ended up off course and completing significantly more than the required 25 miles!

For me, I only very recently took up cycling – the last time I was on a road bike was probably as a child, other than that the odd (and boring) spin class in the gym. I bought a bike about a month ago and when the email came around asking if anyone would be interested in joining the team I thought it would be a great idea and I’d give myself a challenge to work towards, with the bonus of raising money for a worthwhile cause in the process. Never having done a cycling event before, it was daunting but I had already done a ride of 25 miles to prepare so I knew I could cover the distance. What I hadn’t prepared for was the strong winds coupled with large hills and a wrong turn, sapping my energy and making what should have been an enjoyable ride seem like an epic 32 mile marathon -finishing in 2 hours 44 mins. Not bad for a beginner….. maybe 60 miles next year!?

Overall, the winning times for each course were:
·         10 miles      00.55.07
·         25 miles      01.53.47
·         60 miles      03.36.09
Landmark continues to support our two nominated charities, Sue Ryder and MapAction, as well as backing the efforts of our staff in their own worthy charities and community causes. During our last financial year Landmarkers raised over £15,000 (Landmark charity matched over £7,500) for a range of charities including: Comic Relief, Coppafeel Charity for Breast Cancer, WaterAid, European Disaster Volunteers and the Brain Tumour Charity. We promote healthy living through a range of initiatives and with National Cycling week coming up in June and our continued support of Jessica Varnish, the most promising young talent of the British Track Cycling team we are looking forward to seeing what else we will be taking part in.

Lisa Middleton
Marketing Executive

Friday, 16 May 2014

Investing in Local Communities: How Landmark’s Promap supports Gentoo

Promap Testimonial:

Gentoo is made up of a group of companies that include divisions operating in care and support services; construction; design, build and maintenance; environmental sustainability; solar panels and specialist glass; and property rental and sales.

Its overall ambition is to improve the lives of the people, communities and the environment in which it operates. This is achieved by investing in people, the planet and property, in what it is calling ‘the Art of Living’.   As a ‘profit for purpose’ organisation, Gentoo uses any profits from its commercial activity to reinvest back in towards achieving this.

In 2011, Gentoo Group reached its tenth anniversary. During this time it has invested over £500 million into homes and communities.   In the same year, almost 10 per cent of new homes in the north east region were built by Gentoo, and in Sunderland it accounted for 66 per cent of them.


Bill Fairley, Architectural Technologist at Gentoo:
“As a Group we are continuing to invest in the local community, which includes the creation of new affordable housing schemes in and around Sunderland and the North East region.

As part of our development and investment plans, it is important for us to be able to precisely plot parcels of land that we are looking to buy.  By doing so, it is then possible to develop accurate architectural schemes that are used for the planning and development process.

We rely on Landmark’s Promap service to access all the maps we need.  The process is simple.  

Via Promap it is quick to identify the area of land in question. Once highlighted, we can order the Ordnance Survey MasterMap that we want and in lots of varying formats.  We typically work in DXF or DWG format and, once selected, the map is downloaded from Promap and ready for immediate use."

"The Promap site is very simple to use and gives us everything we need to create the first stage architectural schemes for our planning applications, as well as land registration purposes.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Landmark Information Group champions young talent in the housing sector

Confirmed as joint sponsor of 24Housing’s 2014 Young Leaders Award

Landmark® Analytics, a leading provider of residential property market data, analysis and automated valuation services, and a division of Landmark® Information Group, has confirmed its role as a joint sponsor of 24Housing’s 2014 Young Leaders award.  As an organisation that has an active apprenticeship scheme in place, Landmark is proud to be supporting the award scheme, which is designed to recognise talented professionals under the age of 30 from within the housing sector.

Last year’s winner was 25-year-old Hannah Allen, head of customer involvement and community development at Aster Group.  Hannah was recognised for her genuine record of achievement, which included designing and implementing Synergy Housing’s Neighbourhood Approach, which was so successful it was planned to be rolled-out across 27,000 properties in the South West.

Commenting on the award scheme, Peter Stimson, Managing Director – Financial Risk, Landmark Information Group said: “Nurturing young talent is a key focus at Landmark, and with an active apprenticeship scheme in place we are focused on finding and developing talent and giving people an opportunity. The 24Housing Young Leaders award showcases the wealth of talent that is already operating in the industry; we are proud to be involved and to hear the great work that is taking place every day to help shape communities across the UK.”

Now in its fourth year, the 24Housing 2014 Young Leaders award encouraged housing providers to nominate young leaders who have the potential to reach senior management level. A shortlist of top 20 candidates has been announced and online voting is now open until 23 May to determine the 10 semi-finalists, who will be subsequently be revealed in the June edition of 24housing.

Landmark provides a wealth of financial risk and intelligence services to the social housing sector. For further information visit  

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Landmark Information Group supports UKELA in raising the awareness of flood in Wales

Natural Resources Wales’s Flood Risk Strategy Manager, Steve Cook, told a meeting of the UK Environmental Law Association, that currently one in six properties in Wales is at risk of flooding.  

Mr Cook said: “The current number of properties at risk of flooding is likely to increase as we experience the effects of climate change.  In the future we can expect increased rainfall, more severe storms and rises in sea levels”.
Following the dramatic weather of last winter and the serious impacts on individuals, insurance companies, infrastructure providers, public sector bodies and others, the UK Environmental Law Association brought together a number of leading lawyers, insurance providers and academics to debate the wider effects of flooding, how to minimise these impacts and the insurance industry’s response to the crisis.

Simon Boyle, a leading and well respected environmental lawyer with Landmark Information Group, brought a stark reality to the discussion.  He outlined the dramatic consequences of flooding such as death, personal injury, property losses and damage, as well as the insurance implications.  Mr Boyle also pointed out the impact on commercial businesses:
“Although businesses usually have business interruption insurance, generally this only covers a three month period.  When businesses are flooded this period is often not long enough to get the business back on track after the flood. This is part of the reason why around 60% of companies that suffer major flood incidents go out of business within two years.”

As with any crisis, there are a number of potential solutions.  

Mr Boyle said: “From as little as a few thousand pounds effective flood resistance measures could be installed for individual residential properties.
“Most flooding does not go above a depth of 80cm and can be effectively kept out of houses by installing flood resistance measures such as door and window baffles.”

The insurance industry’s perspective was provided by Duncan Spencer of EDIA who reinforced the sector’s challenge of balancing costs with protection of homes and businesses.  

Mr Spencer identified that other impacts of flooding, especially from the pollution caused as a result, are often overlooked.  He pointed out that the costs of these can be many hundreds of thousands of pounds.

In looking to the future, Mr Spencer spoke about increasing risks and the potential for a rise in liability law cases, as is being experienced within the United States.

There was general agreement that the situation whereby those home owners who are at a high risk of flooding are receiving premium subsidies from other insurance payers of well over £500 for each household annually is not sustainable in the longer term. 

In this context, Professor Mark Stallworthy of Swansea University provided an overview of the UK Government’s proposals for introducing a statutory Flood Re-insurance scheme.  The scheme has the overall aim of ensuring home owners continued reliance on the insurance industry to cover losses from flooding.  It will require the insurance industry to pay levies into a fund that will be used to financially support some claims.  It also provides for the continued cross subsidising of low and high flood risk insured households.  Overall, this could result in a fairer insurance deal for homeowners not at risk of flooding and also those at high risk of flooding. 

However, Professor Stallworthy said:

“Whilst the Flood Re-insurance scheme promises to protect the sustainability of flood insurance, there are concerns about the significant number of properties that will be excluded and the failure to address the possibility of a rapid increase in the levels of flood risk.”      

Note to Editors:
UKELA [ ] is the charity which aims to make the law work for a better environment and to improve understanding and awareness of environmental law. It promotes, for the benefit of the public generally, the enhancement and conservation of the environment in the UK and advances the education of the public in all matters relating to the development, teaching, application and practice of law relating to the environment.
A working party for Wales was established in October 2013 to promote understanding and awareness of environmental law and influence the development of legislation.
The seminar on Flood Risk and Planning was hosted by Hugh James: Solicitors and held on Thursday 8 May.  A similar event is being held at the University of Law, Christleton, Chester on Thursday 15 May.  The programme is as follows:
5.00 pm - Arrivals
5.30 pm - Chair’s introduction 

5.35 pm – Overview of Flooding Risks and Measures in Wales:  Keith Ivens, Natural Resources Wales

6.05 pm – UK Government Proposals for Insurance Indemnity: Professor Mark Stallworthy

6.25 pm – Flood Risk: Property and Land Transactions: Angus Middleton
6.55 pm – Flood Risk and Insurance: Duncan Spencer

7.15 pm – Panel Discussion

7.30 pm – Chairs Summary and Conclusion

7.40 pm – Networking

Bookings can be made by accessing the link
UKELA is grateful to Landmark Information Group for sponsoring both these events. 
For any enquiries, please contact Dr Norma Barry, UKELA Wales Coordinator on 07785 551511 or 029 2022 6263
UK Environmental Law Association - Making the law work for a better environment
Registered charity 299498; company registered in England number 2133283
Registered office: City Point, One Ropemaker Street, London, EC2Y 9SS 

Contamination Concerns and Addressing Development Risk

An observant walker can readily pick out sites of historical significance anywhere in the UK; just keep an eye out for the distinct blue plaques and the previously hidden history comes to life.

However, determining the risk of the UK’s industrial legacy is a much harder task, more so when the historic site itself has long been developed. So how can we be certain of risks to health when we don’t have a blue plaque for past land use?

 Ordnance Survey map extract, hand-drawn Landmark analysis highlighting sources of potential contamination and ground instability.

In 1998 Landmark Information Group completed the creation of a unique database of Historical Land Use and Potentially Contaminative Industries, using guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environment Act 1995.

The database was created under a Joint Venture between Landmark and Ordnance Survey (OS).The resultant data analysis and digital dataset has proved essential for investigations into the existence of historically contaminated land and previously in-filled land.

A recent news story has highlighted the investigation of potentially contaminated land in Paddock Wood, Kent. While local residents and the governing local authority await the results of the investigation, the media story is focused on the potential effect of the historical contaminants. How were residents to know about the potential for contamination?

Landmark Information Group has been able to report and detail the potential contamination at the site since the original mapping analysis was completed in 1998. Historical mapping displays the site of the works as it appeared on OS mapping: 

And the Landmark data, in its digital form, highlights the extent of the former works with contemporary mapping included.

In the example above, the area is clearly indicated as being affected by past land use, and historic map analysis of this type would have identified the source of potential contamination many years ago.

The case in Kent is not unique, but the problem can be easily addressed at the very outset. Such historical mapping can not only identify potential sources of risk, but can also determine if remediation measures are necessary prior to development.

Any site that is determined to be contaminated by the Local Authority is therefore put on their register and it’s worth remarking that Landmark also collates and reports local authority contaminated land registers, with over 1000 features available. However, often it will simply be a case of reassuring residents that any risk posed from historical industrial use is either negligible, or that appropriate measures were put in place at the very start of the development process. Evidence of an in-depth site survey is often all that is needed. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

BIM: Don’t Overlook Data

The ‘BIM Issue’ of Building magazine (17/4/14) published the findings of the NBS Building Information Modelling (BIM) awareness survey, which I read with interest. Among the findings, it reported that 54% of construction firms have now used BIM, which is a marked increase from the 39% that claimed the same last year. To add to this, 93% said they will be using BIM by 2016.

Having attended the BIM Show Live, many speakers were talking about how BIM is now giving them ‘an edge’, with more than half of construction firms confirming that they have used BIM on at least one project, which is all very positive. 

One area that strikes me however as being potentially overlooked – from both the published survey and general discussions at the show – is the role that data, mapping or geospatial data plays in the entire BIM process.  Currently, location, risk and analysis data that is used before a build project currently falls outside of BIM. Under the current stages, the model doesn’t have to include pre-BIM data or have any reference to a geographic location; BIM can sit in space (or rather in one of the many software packages) without any context of its surroundings.

Professionals working across property, environment and construction all use pre-BIM data, from maps to devise a new road development to the rehoming of newts, and everything in between. This data is part of the project after all and as time moves on, factors can change. It is imperative therefore that such updates are fed into BIM to make it truly about the lifecycle not just the building.

Data is at the very heart of BIM: without the correct information being recorded, it fails to deliver on its goals and the BIM model – which is meant to last the lifecycle of a project – may become invalid.  

Carole Ankers
Product Development Director & BIM ambassador
Landmark Information Group

Friday, 9 May 2014

Landmark Information Group attends the Birmingham Legal Awards Dinner 2014

The 2014 Birmingham Legal Awards Dinner, held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Birmingham, was attended by more than 550 Solicitors, Barristers and Legal Industry executives and guests. This popular and prestigious annual event celebrates the achievements of both individuals and firms from the midland’s legal profession.

Sports personality and Olympic medallist Steve Cram (MBE) was the guest speaker. One of Britain’s most successful athletes, winning six gold medals at Commonwealth, European and World Championships and a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics Steve is now the BBC’s chief athletics commentator.

Guest compere for the night was the irrepressible ITV weather presenter Emma Jesson.

Landmark Information Group, one of the main sponsors of Birmingham Law Society (BLS) entertained guests from Partridge Allen Solicitors, Index Property Information, Lawnet, Search Acumen, x-presslegal, Severn Trent Searches and Property Assure.

This year Landmark was proud to the support the Award for ‘Law Firm of the Year (5-15) Partners’. The nominees for the award were DBS Law, Quality Solicitors Talbots, Sydney Mitchell LLP and Wallace Robinson & Morgan.

The winners, Sydney Mitchell LLP, were announced by Landmark’s Tony Rollason, Regional Manager – Legal, who also presented the trophy along with Steve Cram. Emma Jesson read the judges citation for the winners;

The firm of Sydney Mitchell has become widely recognised for punching above its weight, ranking alongside much larger firms in its chosen fields of expertise.  Having just celebrated its 250th anniversary, it is now establishing a reputation on the international stage as well as continuing to contribute to the development of the profession in Birmingham.“

Senior Partner, Div Singh commented: 

“We are delighted that the firm has won this prestigious award. It is great that the firm, partners and staff have been recognised for the quality of work both individuals and teams provide for their clients. “

Other Award winners were Ekaterina Wild, DWF (Trainee Solicitor of the Year), Richard Atkins QC, St Philips Chambers (Barrister of the Year), Pam Sanghera, The Family Firm Solicitors (Chartered Legal Executive of the Year),  Sam Harris, Weightmans LLP (Paralegal of the Year), Jane Plant, Assistant/Associate of the Year), Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers (International Lawyer of the Year), Caroline Coates, DWF (Partner of the Year), Hayley Simonds, Mills & Reeve LLP (CSR/ProBono Lawyer of the Year), Christine Lee & Co (Law Firm of the Year - Sole Practioners 4 partners), Gateley LLP (Law Firm of the Year – 16+ partners), Anthony Collins (Lifetime Achievement Award).