Property People Q&A: John James

John James is a director of James Partnership – a residential property developer based in the North York Moors National Park.

John James

How did you end up working in property? My passion for buildings stems from my love of redundant, unused, agricultural or ecclesiastical spaces, which for me are blank canvases. These old buildings are evocative and capture my

imagination. I dabbled in the London auction market at first, purchasing a derelict three-storey Victorian townhouse in Clapham, London. It had notable structural damage. It was terrifying and exhilarating and that’s how it all began.

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How is the market for land faring? Land for building my kind of developments is not in abundance but sites do present themselves. For me they have to be just right as I am a bespoke developer. So that’s often a derelict farm with barns ripe for planning, usually for the creation of several houses.

What are the biggest issues for developers at the moment? Planning conditions and inflationary costs of labour and building materials. This is not helped by heightened ‘energy-efficiency’ measures demanded by government through Building Control.

If you were the Minister for Housing, what would you do and why? Prevent landowners from hoarding sites i.e. holding them back to wait for value appreciation. Suitable sites should be released and the government should impose powers to make this happen. Derelict buildings, especially brownfield sites within planning boundaries, as well as likely commercial sites, which can be readily converted to residential homes, should be subject to ‘use it or lose it laws’

The minister should exempt from VAT all buildings which are demonstrably suitable for regeneration. For the good of the environment, the government should incentivise developers to use renewable energy solutions on all their developments, by offering generous Renewable Heat Incentive payments

What are the best things about working in property? The ability to be very creative. It is satisfying to provide special spaces for those people who appreciate historical buildings, and I enjoy working for myself despite the inevitable stresses of the job.

Where is your ideal home? Barn conversions. They are most desirable when the honesty of the original structures is respected, when internal light is abundant and attractive original features are retained. I have just completed The Barn and The Granary, in the village of Catton, near Thirsk, Both are both on the market with Dacre, Son & Hartley.