LPAs Running Behind in Plans, But Approvals Are Up

Two years into the streamlined NPPF, more development proposals are winning planning appeals. It means more homes for Britain, but not everyone is happy.

Two years into the new rules for development in the UK – as defined in the National Planning Policy Framework, or NPPF – it appears that more residential developments are being approved by local planning authorities (LPAs). Relative to the housing shortage crisis this is welcome news.

But why exactly are more plans being approved? PlanningResource.co.uk, the independent information hub for planning professionals, reported in 2013 and 2014 that too few local planning authorities are compliant with the NPPF. This then has the effect of allowing proposals by developers (very often real asset fund managers) to win appeals after initial rejection. Said the publication: “The framework opens up new opportunities for appeal against LPA decisions. If an application is turned down because of conflict with the local plan, there now may be an opportunity for the applicant to argue that the plan has not been brought into line with the NPPF, and hence is “out-of-date”, and the presumption in favour of sustainable development should apply.”

PlanningResource.co.uk further describes the NPPF as a “game changer,” providing an advantage to developers who previously would not attempt an appeal. If the local authorities have a weak plan at all, rulings more often than before go to the homebuilders.

This is much more than a niche matter. The Planning Inspectorate (PINS, in the Department for Communities and Local Government) provided data in early 2014 that shows how only 49 of 336 local planning authorities (14.6 per cent) have plans in place deemed sound upon examination; the total number of planning authorities with plans of any sort is just over half (56.8 per cent) of local authorities. The reason for such failures may be due to staffing cuts in planning policy teams, according to Alister Scott, professor of environmental and spatial planning at Birmingham City University.

Is this a problem? Does the housing crisis not call for a streamlined process? The Director-General of the National Trust, Dame Helen Ghosh, says that pressure from the Government is forcing councils to approve too many plans too quickly. In her words, “I think events proved that you just need to take longer to do these things properly to get the land use right and genuinely to engage local communities.” Former Planning Minister Nick Boles tends to differ, reports The Telegraph. He counters that councils have been asked for a decade to “shape where developments should or should not go.”

The National Trust says their research finds that half of all councils with greenbelt land allocate some of it for development. Whether or not that is what the local citizenry wants is left to question. But the Centre for Housing and Planning Research at Cambridge University offers its own observations and advice based on multiple studies that might serve as a guide to local planning authorities:

• The NPPF has been well received by large house builders. They say that alteration to the policy is inadvisable; rather, LPAs need to focus on smart practice of the policy.

• Effective planning means adopting an effective five-year housing supply plan. Without it, the councils will more likely lose on appeal (as evidence shows often happens).

• Planning is effective once development is acknowledged as essential. When chief executives, planning officers and elected members become pro-development, a positive, get-it-done programme results.

In other words, planning works – if and when done in advance, and when the powers that be are in alignment with the national push to build more homes.

What is clear is that homebuilders, developers and their investors have a lot to be optimistic about. With more planning changes likely to be approved (or approved on appeal), this is a time to build. Surely, the opportunity can drive considerable asset growth for those participants? But with more than a million homes needed in the UK to meet a young, growing population, it serves the needs of the country as well.

Investors need to choose their investments in housing wisely. Whether it is to buy individuals homes for rental, or to invest through land fund managers, the investment should be reviewed by an independent financial advisor. The IFA can determine if it meets the risk profile of a wealth portfolio.

4 Things You Need to Know Before You Invest in Startups

Investing in startups is a risky business. For every Facebook, there are hundreds of Friendsters that have fizzled into obscurity. Thus, before getting into the startup investing scene and becoming an angel investor yourself, it’s important to have a keen understanding of all the risks involved and how you can best mitigate them.

1. STARTUPS HAVE A HIGH FAILURE RATE

New startups have a 50% chance of making it through their first five years. There’s no real science for predicting which ones will survive as there are a lot of uncertainties involved in new businesses, but the top three causes for startup failure are: no market need, running out of cash flow, and not having the right team according to this study on the top 20 reasons startups fail.

Because of the high risk nature of startup investments, you should not invest more than you are comfortable to lose.

There is no sure way to eliminate this risk, however, you should conduct a thorough due diligence of the company, drilling into track records of the founding team, examining if the company can feasibly scale, and investigating the financials. If you have less experience to judge any of these aspects, you should invest with an experienced lead investor who is well versed in the industry of the startup you’re investing in and who can conduct a more thorough due diligence check. In addition, there are many strategies from leading angel investors on how to pick the right startups.

2. STARTUP INVESTMENTS ARE ILLIQUID

Startups may not have the capital to pay dividends until many years later from the time you have made your investment. Thus, the only time you are likely to cash in your investment is when a start-up exits: that is, when it is acquired by another company, or when it goes public. Thus, understanding a startup’s exit strategy is important.

3. STARTUP INVESTMENTS HAVE A LONG TERM HORIZON

Even if your startup investment does survive, it may take a while before you see any returns. A startup investment is by nature a long-term investment since it may take a while for a business to exit.
According to Crunchbase, acquired companies were an average of seven years old. On the other hand, it took around 8.25 years for a startup to IPO.

4. YOUR INVESTMENT WILL BE DILUTED OVER TIME

Each time a company raises funds, it gives up ownership in a company by issuing additional shares. Each time a company issues additional shares, existing investors’ proportional ownership will decrease. This is called dilution. Though your portion of equity may decrease over time, the value of your investment can still increase over time if the company’s valuation increases.

How to Improve Your Chances of Investing Successfully

Investing successfully can be a daunting task for individual investors. There are many factors that make investing today more difficult today than it was in times past, like the amount of available options and the amount of information available about those options. It seems as though each news cycle produces a new hot stock, ETF, or mutual fund to follow while discarding the old, tired ones in the same cycle.

This sort of media production makes investing for the long term seem outdated. However, long-term investing still offers potential rewards for those who can block out the volume of investment information that comes their way. This article presents possible ways to improve your ability to achieve investment success.

1. Block out the media noise. No offense to them, but media outlets are businesses first and foremost. Magazines and newspapers need circulation, and television shows need ratings. How many times have you seen articles about stocks to hold for the next 30 years? If an investment show or magazine provided such a list, you would have no need to subscribe or watch the show after you learned what stocks were on it.

Now, what if magazines and televisions shows told you that long-term trading was dead and that they offered some very good stocks each day, week, or month that you could trade? Do you think you would tune in more frequently or keep your magazine subscription? I am not saying that none of the information offered by the shows and magazines is good. I am saying that it is not suitable for those who wish to succeed at investing long term. Daily and weekly fluctuations in a security’s price should have no effect on a long-term investor’s perspective. That’s the stuff of day traders and swing traders. It is best to leave it for them.

2. Clearly lay out your long-term goals. Determine where you want to be financially and what you are trying to achieve. Let every investment decision be based on whether it will increase the likelihood of reaching your long-term objectives. Literally ask yourself, “Does this investment have the potential to move me toward my financial goal, or does it unduly jeopardize my chances?” If you cannot answer affirmatively with certainty, then, move on to the next security or make no move at all.

3. Do not chase after returns. Hot stocks come and go, but a well-designed plan that suits you can remain for the long haul. For long-term investors, slow and steady often wins the race. Stick to your very clear plan and do not deviate from it without good reason (Remember: Short-term gains are never good reasons to change your long-term plan). If you cannot resist trading for gain, set up a separate small account that has no impact on your long-term investing.

4. Be mentally prepared for market corrections and crashes along the way. The best time to prepare for critical periods in the market is when the going is easy. If you purchased ETFs and mutual funds at great values when the market and prices were soaring, would not those same offerings have great value when the entire market and prices were down? It seems counterintuitive, but downturns are frequently not the time to panic. They can often be the time to grit your teeth and catch the sale prices that you see all around you.

5. Avoid trying to time the market. What may appear to be a top or bottom could evaporate in the blink of an eye and leave you with huge losses or opportunities missed. Let’s assume, though, that you somehow caught lightning in the bottle and timed the market exactly right. Your money is now sidelined. Now, you have to be right about your re-entry point. Do you like your odds of being exactly right two times? The risk really is not worth the reward.

6. Consider working with a financial advisor who can help to keep you level-headed and steadfast to the plan during the market’s inevitable ups and downs. A professional may be able to become a buffer between you and your long-term investment account. He or she may be able to keep you off the investing ledge, so to speak, when you have emotional urges to sell everything during downturns or to go on a buying frenzy when you hear about some great offering that is blowing through new highs each day. Basically, the right advisor may keep you from blowing up your long-term account.

Let’s be clear: Being a long-term investor today seems more difficult than it was it times past. Even a casual observer would note that the current market seems to be more volatile than it used to be. Every week, news media seem to scream loudly about the next big things to invest in and about the dogs of the market to avoid or sell. It can all be maddening.

Of course, none of these steps will actually guarantee that you will succeed at achieving your financial goals. Investing in securities involves risk of loss. Investors should always perform careful examination of any investment offering.

Source of Site Traffic That Can Help You Get Past Google

Are you willing to invest in a more long-term and reliable organic traffic source for your website? Then let’s look at a search engine that can assist you in increasing your traffic.

Interview an Influencer or Get Interviewed by a High-traffic Website

Have you heard of Tim Ferriss, the author of the Four-Hour Work Week?

His podcast is nowadays a staple content type that he provides to his viewers. Tim’s show has world-class performers who share their insights on a variety of topics, and he is well-liked on social media. Do Tim’s fans enjoy the show? So far, the show has received over 50 million downloads. On most days, it’s the most popular business podcast on iTunes.

Interviews, whether on video or audio, are inherently conversational, lively, and engaging. The great aspect is that it’s a win-win situation for both sides. The interviewer is exposed to a new audience, while the interviewee is able to provide his website visitors with new fascinating and authoritative information. You can ask an industry influencer to share your interview with their followers on social media if you interview them. Consider the organic traffic you’ll get from their social media followers, which number in the hundreds of thousands. Consider the level of interest generated by a prior Derek Sivers interview on the Tim Ferriss Show. Derek shared the show’s URL with his 283K followers on Twitter. It won’t hurt if you establish a relationship with the influencer as a result of the interview.

Similarly, being interviewed by a high-ranking website can result in a significant increase in search engine traffic. Harsh Agrawal’s blog, Shoutmeloud, received 35,000+ views in a single day after he was profiled by YourStory. That was the blog’s most popular search engine traffic source (with 600,000+ monthly visitors). Because interviews provide consolidated value, they can be used as a long-term lead generating source for your company. Consider how many bloggers you’ve learned about through interviews on YouTube and other high-authority websites.

You may also conduct a Reddit AMA if you have a very compelling storey to tell. Mateen’s AMA got about generating $85,000 in profit by selling TeeSpring shirts/hoodies received 2000 page views. He also boosted the number of visitors to his website on a daily basis.

By registering as a source with HARO, you can also answer queries from journalists. On HARO, Christopher from Snappa came across this question from Inc Magazine about the future of content marketing. He swiftly responded with a thorough response. He was mentioned in Inc a few weeks later as a result of this. HARO is an excellent strategy to have your brand mentioned on authoritative news sites such as Entrepreneur and Inc. Those backlinks will enhance your search engine traffic and increase your marketing strategy by improving your reputation in Google’s eyes. Contact an SEO agency to find out how you can do this and how they can manage it for you while you work on the bottom line of your business.