NI property – laying the foundations for a greener future

Millar McCall Wylie is delighted to support the Belfast Telegraph Property Awards again in 2023. As the significance of sustainability in property development grows, we are particularly proud to sponsor the Climate Company of the Year category for the second year running.

Our team of specialist Real Estate lawyers works closely with investors, developers and lenders on the acquisition, development and management of commercial property across Northern Ireland. Within the last twelve months, we are proud to have advised on several landmark property deals. Our residential property team also continues to thrive, providing a partnership-led service to homeowners, buy to let investors and developers.

Since the last Belfast Telegraph Property Awards, we have witnessed an increasing focus on sustainability within property development.

We are encouraged by the strong shift towards ‘greener homes’, with many of our developer clients beginning to offer properties with solar panels, EV charging points and air source heat pumps as standard.

Legislation to encourage such steps in Northern Ireland, however, remains somewhat stagnant.

Since 2018, commercial landlords in England and Wales have been legally obliged to ensure commercial properties have a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘E’ before granting a new tenancy. As of April this year, it became illegal for a landlord in England or Wales to continue to let a commercial property with a rating below this.

These ‘Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards’ (MEES) are yet to come into force here and with Stormont at an impasse, it is difficult to envisage that changing in the short term.

In the absence of such developments, the industry is leading the way.

We have seen commercial lenders insisting on Energy Performance Certificates with a specific minimum rating as a condition to the drawdown of commercial loans.

Many national retailers, who are au fait with MEES in England and Wales, are insisting on maintaining the same standards in Northern Ireland, meaning a private landowner may need to undertake efficiency upgrades before a lease will be signed.

Clearly it is in the interest of the industry and society overall that we do not fall further behind the remainder of the UK in the push to Net Zero.

The Belfast Telegraph Property Awards showcase the talent and innovation within the local property sector. Without a functioning Executive, it is the ambition and vision of the private sector that will continue to drive positive change.

Pictured is our Head of Real Estate , Peter McCall within the grounds of the geothermal Riddel Hall at Queen’s University Belfast which is a great example of energy efficient and sustainable development here in Northern Ireland.