The London Legal Walk 2020 comes to Windsor!

The London Legal Walk is a yearly event we at Aston Bond love to get involved in.  But sadly it was postponed this year.  However, a virtual walk will be taking place instead on 5th October!  By virtual we mean that sadly we will not all be walking together with the thousands of other lawyers and law firms who usually take part.  But we will still be getting those steps in!  This year, we will be walking more locally, along the Long Walk in Windsor.

Now, more than ever, the money raised is crucial. Basic legal advice to those that need it most, in areas such as homelessness, debt and fighting exploitation and abuse, should be available to all.  The charities that are supported each year by the London Legal Walk do a fantastic job and we were determined to do what we can to raise awareness and much need funds.

If you would like to sponsor us, please do so by following this link.




Changes to Use Classes

From 1 September 2020, there has been a change in the Use Classes in England by virtue of The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020. 

These Regulations significantly changed the previous Use Classes by revoking a number of Use Classes and introducing the following new Use Classes:

  1. Class E – Commercial, Business and Service
  2. Class F – Local Community and Learning – split into:
    1. F1 – Learning and non-residential institutions
    2. F2 – Local community

Below we summarise some of the changes:

Use Use Class Pre-1 September 2020 Current Use Class
Shops A1 E or F2
Financial and professional services A2 E
Restaurants and cafes A3 E
Drinking establishments (e.g. pubs) A4 Sui Generis
Hot foot takeaways A5 Sui Generis
Business – Offices B1 E
Business – Research and development of products or processes B1 E
Business – Industrial processes B1 E
Non-residential institutions D1 The uses have been split out within E and F1
Assembly and leisure D2 The uses have been split out within E and F2 and some uses now falling within Sui Generis


It will be important to take into account these recent changes when purchasing new commercial premises or granting new leases.

Further details on the current Use Classes since 1 September 2020 can be found here:-

The Future Of Slough – Regeneration and Reinvention

The Future Of Slough – Regeneration and Reinvention

We have been hearing news of the future of Slough for months now. It is safe to say that we can currently see regeneration and reinvention happening right in front of our eyes. What is to hold for Aston Bond’s home town is awaited with much anticipation.

With the Crossrail train due to complete in the next two years, it will place commuters in London in around 30 minutes. In addition, the new Western Train link will allow you to reach Heathrow Airport in around 6 -7 minutes. Such major infrastructure projects, needless to say are a great improvement for everyday transport facilities however, in the long term the infrastructural development will also enable businesses to work closer together in a more efficient manner, and this will only increase Slough’s potential for economic business growth.

Commercial & Residential Development

We cannot refer to the future of Slough without discussing the commercial and residential development that is currently ongoing, and the impact this will have for the town.

The recent demolition of the old Slough Library site will be replaced with high quality hotels and restaurant facilities in the town centre and around the new commercial district, this is to take into account the demands that will arise from the improved business and conference facilities. Developers along with major employers in London have already noticed the lower rents and prices of both commercial and residential property. London occupiers will be looking for spaces outside London, in order to utilize areas for office purposes or for headquarters functions. In the long term the office buildings being built will provide workspaces for the rapid business world, and investment in business facilities can only increase the procurement of commercial business activity in Slough.

Two major longer term redevelopments include a substantial mixed commercial and residential use scheme on the previous ‘Thames Valley University’ site in Slough which is anticipated to include 1,500 more homes along with office and leisure developments. Another major redevelopment is to be implemented at the ‘Queensmere shopping centre’ in Slough, which has permission for a refurbishment and 674 flats built to be built above the renovated site. This will consequently increase employment opportunities and further elevate the employment market within Slough.

Meanwhile, Aston Bond’s home address, ‘Windsor Road’ in Slough will be the site of 100 new homes to be utilized by homeowners, or by investors looking to rent properties to City workers who are always looking for residential properties at a lower rental rate to London and with convenient proximity to work. In addition, the Windsor road will be one of many key routes where the infrastructure is being improved, it is anticipated to incorporate a mass rapid transit scheme that will transport workers from the Slough station to Bath Road offices, stopping at strategic points e.g. offices of major employers.

To conclude this is an exciting time for Aston Bond’s home town and we cannot wait to see the urban redevelopment come into fruition. If you are looking to invest into Slough as a business entity and require corporate advice, or are looking to invest in Slough’s boasting residential and commercial property industry, please feel free to contact us. As a leading Thames Valley firm that has developed and established itself in Slough, we can offer bespoke legal advice to our clients, and can also provide a personalised service regarding market trends in Slough, for investors who require a firm with experience in dealing with an extensive number of investment matters in Slough and adapted knowledge of the demographic area they are looking at for investment purposes.

Fun fact for those of you reading who are residents of slough, or are reading this blog and have never visited Slough; Sir William Herschel (1738-1822), the famous astronomer who discovered the planet Uranus in 1781 with a self-built telescope, lived in Observatory House on ‘Windsor Road’ (Aston Bond’s street address) from 1786 until 1822.

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) for commercial & residential properties comes into force on 1st April 2018It is estimated that buildings account for 43% of the UK’s total carbon-dioxide emissions.

Government estimates that 18 per cent of commercial properties hold the lowest EPC ratings of F or G. While Building Regulations ensure that new properties meet the current energy efficiency standard, MEES will tackle the UK’s older buildings.

From 1st April 2018 Landlords will not be permitted to grant a lease of a property with an EPC rating below E unless they’ve carried out all possible cost-effective energy efficiency improvement works, or an exemption applies.

From 1 April 2020: (in the case of residential properties) or 1st April 2023 (in the case of commercial properties), landlords will not be permitted to continue to let properties with an EPC rating below E on an existing lease unless an exemption applies.

What are the exemptions?

Landlords do not have to carry out any improvement works where –

  1. Third Party Consents (eg from the tenant, planning authorities, mortgagee’s consent etc) are not available. To be released of its obligations the Landlord needs to show that despite reasonable efforts by the landlord to obtain any necessary third party consent, that consent has been refused or granted subject to a condition with which the landlord cannot reasonably comply.
  2. The works are not cost effective. The Landlord will need to be able to demonstrate that within seven years, the expected energy bill savings will not equal or exceed the cost of purchasing, installing the improvement measures.
  3. A report from an independent surveyor states that the works will reduce the value of the property by 5% or more, or that written confirmation by an expert states that wall insulation required to improve the property may damage the fabric or structure of the property, or the building of which it forms part.

In order to apply for an exemption the landlord will need to provide such evidence to a centralised register, the “PRS Exemptions Register.” The exemptions have a limitation period of 5 years. Therefore, the landlord will have to regularly review whether energy efficiency measures can be implemented to bring the EPC rating up to band E or above, or whether the grounds for the exemption still apply.

Enforcement & Penalties

The enforcement authorities for the MEES Regulations are the:

  • Local authority for a domestic PR property.
  • Local weights and measures authority for a non-domestic PR property.

The authorities will have the power to enforce civil penalties for non-compliance with the MEES Regulations. The penalty will reflect the property’s rateable value, and will range from a minimum penalty of £5,000 to a maximum of £150,000.

Future Implications

  • Marketability of properties with low EPC ratings will be more difficult unless the upgrading is reasonable and easy to implement. This could have a knock on effect on the valuation of the properties.
  • Lenders will also be affected by the new regulations as they will need to take measures to ensure that the value of their security is not involuntarily affected.
  • New Leases will need to be carefully drafted in order to ensure adequate provisions are in place for compliance with the MEES Regulations.

No doubt there may be further implications to consider upon the implementation of the MEES Regulations in 2018, and it is important that your solicitor advises you, whether you are a Landlord or a Tenant, of how the forthcoming regulations will impact you in the future.

Break Clauses and Vacant Possession

Break Clauses  –  When is vacant possession not considered to be vacant possession for the purposes of a break clause in a business lease?

Break clauses can be a useful tool which can allow a tenant to end a lease before the contractual term provided that any pre-conditions noted in the lease are satisfied. When negotiating a break clause, a landlord may try to impose a condition which provides that the tenant must give vacant possession on the break date. Tenants should be cautious of agreeing to such a pre-condition, as satisfying this pre-condition can cause difficulty.  In the case of NYK Logistics (UK) Ltd v Ibrend Estates BV [2011], it was held that vacant possession is not as simple as just leaving the property. In the event that a tenant was to leave chattels or goods or demountable partitioning at the property, this could lead to a potential argument that the property is not being left with vacant possession even though the tenant, and its sub-tenants and licensees (if applicable), may have physically left the property itself.

The landlord could argue that the pre-condition has not been satisfied, and therefore prevent the tenant from exercising the break clause, which in turn could then have significant implications for the tenant and its business. The break clause needs to be carefully drafted to ensure that the tenant does not find themselves in difficulty when trying to exercise this, and therefore advice needs to be taken before any such clauses are agreed.

For any assistance in dealing with break clauses in business leases, whether this is in terms of drafting a break clause, or reviewing it, then please feel free to contact our commercial property department.

Sumeet Shangari – Director – Commercial Property

Have something you would like to add? Leave a comment below:

Kerry Roshier – Joining Aston Bond

I joined Aston Bond in Slough three weeks ago as a Real Estate paralegal having spent a year working in a regional office of a larger practice. I was keen to make the move and gain more practical experience in the legal field. From the first day I found myself involved in interesting and challenging work that far exceeded my initial expectation.

In my previous role I was a small part of a bigger team. At Aston Bond I have enjoyed the opportunity to have a greater involvement in client cases and to work using my own initiative. Within my first few days I was tasked with drafting my first lease which was quite challenging and was something I didn’t expect to have the chance to do so soon.

One of the main things I have noticed whilst working at Aston Bond is how quickly the day goes. Being constantly involved in interesting work means I never find myself watching the clock. I have found everyone to be friendly and welcoming from day one and have experienced a lot more responsibility and exposure to work meaning I am constantly learning every day.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first few weeks at Aston Bond and look forward to getting more involved with the variety of law cases the firm deals with. I’m hoping this will broaden my knowledge more quickly than may have been the case working at a larger practice.

Kerry Roshier Real Estate Paralegal

Leave a comment below…

Could you be Living in an Office?

In May 2013 the government decided to relax the rules for converting offices into residential flats, in a bid to create more housing. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) Order 2013 allowed for development of office buildings into residential accommodation without the need to apply for planning permission – but only until May 2016. Continue reading “Could you be Living in an Office?”

When to Make an Insurance Claim on Damaged Property and/or Contents after a Flood

As the United Kingdom endures the highest amount of rainfall for over 200 years residential and commercial properties across the country have been severely damaged, as have the contents within them. However, if you were lucky enough to have prepared for the recent UK floods the likelihood is that you invested in property insurance and/or contents insurance.

Within this blog post I will advise you on when and how you should make a claim to your insurance company and how to gain the highest pay-out when the water recedes.

Firstly, the most vital part of any insurance claim after a flood is the initial contact and the time between the initial damage and the initial contact with your insurance company.

While individual insurers will have their own terms and policies in place it is recommended by industry experts that you make the initial contact by telephone within 24-hours of the initial damage. Furthermore, it is also recommended that you call the insurance company regularly to advise them on any further developments such as further damage to property or contents.

Once you have made the initial contact the insurance company should open a claim. At this point you will be contacted by an independent loss adjuster who should contact you within a 24-hour period after you made the initial contact with the insurance company.

The loss adjuster will then arrange an assessment to take place, and during this assessment the loss adjuster will document any damage caused and may in some circumstances require the opinion of a qualified building professional that will be able to provide further advice on the costs and importance of the damage caused.

However, you should always ensure that the loss adjuster is both independent and qualified, as are any professionals they consult with. You should also ensure that the damage assessment is made after the flood waters have receded as this is when the overall damage is visible and measurable.

Moreover, if you have undertaken any repairs before the initial assessment takes place you should ensure that you keep all receipts and the contact details for the professionals you hired to undertake the work; and you should ensure that you have taken pictures of the damaged caused and keep it in case it is required at a later time during the claims process.

Once the initial contact has been made and the assessment has been successfully undertaken the insurance company will calculate the amount you are entitled too. This price will often be dependent on both the amount of damage caused and the cover you have. It is then your decision to accept or decline any offer which is made to you by your insurance company.

And finally, our team of solicitors in Slough would like to wish all property owners who have been effected by the recent UK floods luck with their insurance claims.

Ashton Hudson, Online Marketing Executive

Aston Bond Solicitors in Slough assist clients across Datchet, Windsor and the Thames Valley with litigation matters between property owners and insurance companies. If you believe your claim has been wrongfully denied or you have not received the correct amount please contact our solicitors by emailing or calling 01753 486 777. Alternatively, you can visit our offices at 135 High Street, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 1DN.