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LDA Design is latest practice to become employee-owned

Union street v4 pp
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Masterplanner, landscape architect and architecture practice LDA Design has announced plans to convert to an employee-owned model

The firm, which is working on the £20 million transformation of Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen, is the latest to go down the route, which is becoming increasingly popular among architectural practices.

It said that the shift to employee ownership was part of a programme that also includes the opening of three start-up studios in Bristol, Cambridge and Manchester.

LDA Design chairman Andrew Harland said: ‘The board wants to share the business to grow it and believes this to be the right way to secure a long and bright future.

‘We have always wanted LDA Design to not be about individual egos but the brilliance of the collective.

‘That aim holds true, and we want to see a future where all of our employees can help to shape our business.’

He added that the move to employee ownership, through an employee ownership trust model, would also help make succession planning easier.

Figures from the Employee Ownership Association released earlier this year show that 15 of the top 100 architectural practices have already adopted or are in the process of adopting the so-called ‘John Lewis model’.

Tax reforms made in 2014 have eased the process of converting to employee ownership for businesses.

They mean that sales of shares to a newly established employee ownership trust pay no capital gains tax so long as a majority of shares in the company are sold.

Secondly, trading companies owned by such trusts are allowed to pay bonuses to each employee of up to £3,600 a year, free from income tax.

LDA Design has offices in London, Glasgow, Exeter, Peterborough and Oxford.

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