If you have a large garden and the right sort of access to it, you may be in the very fortunate position of being able cash in on its value by obtaining planning permission to build on it. Maximising the value of this type of opportunity is what we specialise in and have been doing for a very long time.

The planning system has its own set of rules that are particularly unpredictable, open to interpretation and capable of being bent quite dramatically! It is best described as shades of grey rather than black or white. Just because it would seem reasonable does not mean planning will be forthcoming. Planning criteria is not hard and fast and may differ dramatically from one area of the country to the next. The overriding reason for these statements is that planning involves local politics.

For a planning decision to be made it requires the interpretation of national and local planning policies by planning officers and committees of elected councillors. For this reason there is significant scope for inconsistencies to occur in the quality of the decisions that are made: between planning officers, even within the same planning authority, and between different authorities, it can make a huge difference to the outcome.

If you are thinking about making a planning application then you need to take a flexible and pragmatic approach to all you encounter on the journey. It is a common mistake to take things too personally resulting in ill will and bad feeling, a situation that really should be avoided and is a good reason why using a service such as ours can be so beneficial.

Once the planning application has been submitted it should take no longer than eight weeks for a decision to be made.  Local authorities are under pressure to meet this timescale, with rules in place to help facilitate it. It does not always feel like it however with some applications proving very lengthy and drawn out. The Government are keen to see that approvals are issued swiftly where it is appropriate to do so.

Unfortunately this time constraint does not encourage negotiation when determining the application. In the past planners may have been happy to look at amended plans to overcome problems but they are much less likely to do so now. It is important therefore to try and get it right at the start. Experience can play a huge role when making the judgement calls on how to present the application and what to apply for.

The pressure on planning officers these days means they will unhesitatingly refuse a proposal rather than seek to negotiate. It is very important therefore that you track your application through the system to avoid any nasty surprises. Try not to allow your planning application to be refused, it is better to withdraw it and resubmit to try and overcome any problems the planning officer might identify. A second similar application does not attract a planning application fee so don’t be afraid to use this route if necessary.

It is important to take advantage of every opportunity you have to ensure planning permission is granted, which means knowing the rules and how to use them to your best advantage. In government planning terms, a development proposal should be carried out in accordance with the development plan unless there are material considerations to indicate a different decision should be made. In plain English, that means planning decisions should be made in accordance with the authorities local plan policies unless there is a good planning reason not to.

The documents to consult are the development plans for your area either comprised of a County Structure Plan and District Local Plan or a combination of both, called a Unitary Development Plan. These can usually be found on your local council’s website. The plans will contain policies that stipulate where new houses are likely to be allowed and where they won’t. It will list the criteria that should be used to assess and judge planning appli­ca­tions.

In addition, the council will also prob­ably issue supplementary planning guid­ance that gives more detailed information about what they expect in terms of design and should also contain guidance on what they deem to be accept­­­able distances between new and existing houses, in terms of privacy, amenity space and over­shadowing.

Reading the relevant development plan policies will provide overall guidance on the criteria you will need to satisfy in order to make progress. The policies will spell out the approach the local authority should take. As a general rule, within a settlement boundary, being village, town or city your chances of success are significantly greater than outside.

Decisions can appear to be inconsistent and you may wonder why some people seem to be able to build exactly what they want whilst others get refusals. It’s really not because of ‘backhanders’ or a conspiracy against you: it is just because successful promoters are able to look at the local plan and understand those policies. These policies change all the time, so what was suitable last year may not be suitable today and vice versa. It can be the difference between success and failure.

The skill in the process is being able to assess all relevant criteria and advise on the most commercial planning application to make in order to optimise the value of the planning approval when granted. If you look through our previous projects you might find circumstances similar to yours which might help, if not then we would be delighted to have a no obligation chat to let you know our views on your land.