Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most effective way to add significant value to my land?2020-01-29T11:30:45+00:00

Regardless of what type of land you own it is likely to be a very important asset.  Whether you have surplus farm land, a country estate, a large garden that is too big to cope with, grazing land or paddocks you will probably need to get involved with the planning system if you are looking to maximise the value of your land. The difference in value between land without planning permission and land with planning permission for development can be huge and a truly life changing sum of money. Whatever your long term intention it is fairly important to keep an eye on the most effective way of reaching the optimum value for your land. It is necessary to consider its value now, because if a planning approval is needed to reach the highest levels of value, it will not happen overnight. You can’t really start too early as the planning system within the United Kingdom is bureaucratic and a slow to operate process.

If you do not have experience of dealing with the planning system it can be difficult to know where to start or who to ask. This is where the Land and Planning Consultancy can help. With a lifetime of experience and a track record of success we are well placed to give advice and offer a strategy to get the best value out of your land. If the circumstances are right and your land ticks most of the right boxes, or has the potential to, we will work with you to progress the property to the point where that valuable permission can be issued. By working with us it is a risk free process for the land owner as normally we share a percentage of the sale value without any upfront fees.

Selling for development is often a once in a lifetime opportunity and requires very careful consideration and deliberation in order to ensure the return is optimised. We at LPC have successfully helped many landowners through this journey and we would be delighted to have a discussion with you to explain how we might be able to help you.

Is there enough room to build a property within the total garden of my existing house?2019-12-05T16:41:36+00:00

A very good start point to help evaluate the answer is the Local Planning Guidance Note no. 21 – space around dwellings which states that new houses should benefit from a satisfactory degree of privacy and daylight and that the residents of existing houses should also not be unduly affected by the development.

To achieve this, minimum separation distances should be maintained between houses, and in particular, between windows lighting habitable rooms. Habitable rooms include living rooms, bedrooms, studies and kitchens. They do not include halls, stair landings, passageways and utility rooms.

Specific distance and space requirements are provided for different case scenarios. This includes things such as which rooms are facing each other, slope of the ground, size of the property, garden and parking provision to name a few. It needs to be interpreted in relation to each specific site.

Whilst the guidance notes are just that, guidance, it is important to understand how to effectively apply that guidance and relate it to your land to give you the best chance of obtaining a planning permission. More specifically, a permission which makes the best use of the land is likely to optimise its value, and consequently generates the highest return for you. We have completed this exercise successfully for clients many times over the years as can be seen from here. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your land and development proposal without obligation.

What is the local planning policy relating to my land?2019-12-05T15:57:04+00:00

The local planning policy relating to land in your area will be set out in the relative local plan and it will be this document, and the specific planning policies that it contains, that the planning authority will refer to when determining a planning application.

The local plan can have a big influence on the potential that land has for development and it is therefore important to have a clear understanding of what it contains. The local plan is updated every 5 years and within this timeframe there are consultations that take place that must be fully understood when presenting land as available and ready for consideration. There is almost always competition between landowners looking for allocation of development on their site and being able to demonstrate the land being proposed is available and able to be delivered is a crucial factor.

With so many policies to consider, it can be a daunting process. If you would like help understanding the local plan in your area and what to do next then please give us a call at Land and Planning Consultancy and we will offer our opinion and suggest a strategy for you.

Is there any development potential on the land I own?2019-12-05T15:58:26+00:00

This is not a straightforward question to answer in broad terms due to the sheer number of influencing factors that play a part and make the answer specific in each case.  If you own land that you think has development potential we can help determine if that is in fact the case. We can advise you on the potential of your land and provide an indication as to the likelihood of successfully obtaining a planning consent for development, be it residential or commercial.

Our expert local knowledge in this sector enables us to ensure optimal development which maximises the value of your land. In the first instance you just need to get in touch and have a chat with us. There is no charge or obligation so there is nothing to lose by giving us a call. Some of our successful projects from landowners who initially made a preliminary enquiry to us can be seen here

Are there significant costs to making a planning application?2020-01-29T11:40:31+00:00

Yes is the short answer and generally the larger the application the more it will tend to cost. There is even a fee if you decide to ask the local authority’s advice on the submission you plan to make prior to it formally being submitted (a pre application enquiry). It is a fact that even a small planning application for one house can attract a relatively high level of cost. It is difficult to accurately estimate costs as there are so many uncertainties but the costs fall into three main categories: (1) the application fee to the local authority, (2) the CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) and (3) professional fees.

(1) The fee to the local authority is the most certain, as prices are set nationally, so are the same throughout the UK.

(2) The CIL is set by the local authority and will vary both within the local area and from authority to authority. It is the developer that ultimately pays the CIL but he will deduct it from the offer he makes for the land. Self-build plots can be exempt from the CIL as long as they meet certain criteria, and if this is the case then the CIL will not be paid. This can be an important factor when selling a building plot as the CIL payment can be very large.

(3) As mentioned the council will charge for pre-application advice or any legal agreements necessary during the planning process. These costs can vary greatly and can be considerable.

Similarly, professional fees can swell your costs hugely, especially if you have to engage several on your project. Architects, planning consultants, land surveyors, tree, ecology, archaeology, environment, drainage and highways specialists are amongst the most commonly encountered. It is difficult to give a general figure for these costs however it would be easy, even on a straight-forward single unit planning application to spend £5 – 10,000 in total escalating up to many hundreds of thousands on a multi acre complex development proposal. There would also be further costs in the event that the application is refused and then appealed.

As professionals in this market we are used to dealing with these costs and we offer land owners a chance to work with us to obtain planning approval at our expense in exchange for a share of the sale proceeds. If we do not get planning permission, the land owner pays nothing.

What are the rules relating to trying to get planning permission to build a house or two in my garden?2019-12-05T16:04:08+00:00

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.

What factors influence the Local Planning Authority’s decision when determining if the principle of housing development is likely to be acceptable on my land?2019-12-05T16:16:36+00:00

The starting point for the Local Planning Authority when deciding whether to approve a planning application is always the Local Plan. This is produced by the local authority for the area every 5 years. The Local Plan sets out what types of development are allowed in which locations and it is possible that your land, without your knowledge, may even be identified already for a particular type of use or there could possibly be restrictions on what it can be used for within this document.

The Local Planning Authority are not able to look at the principle of new homes on a parcel of land in isolation, they also have to consider whether the development of the site will, from a technical perspective, be able to be delivered. There are lots of different factors to consider, but there are two critical ones to check:

How will the site be accessed?

It can be obvious where a site will be accessed from, for example, an existing access from a road, even if it does look obvious though there are still some things to double check. Can the existing access cope with the intensification of use? Is there enough room to fit an improved access, including the requirement for visibility? In other cases, how the access will work might be less obvious and much more difficult to achieve and third party land owners may need to be involved.

How will the site be drained?

Draining sites effectively is becoming more and more of a challenge, in particular surface water (rain that lands on roads, roofs and gardens), it has to be drained in a sustainable way. Ideally, it should be directed into a nearby stream or river but at a rate that won’t make other areas more likely to flood. Some solutions can be complicated and difficult to achieve and, like with a road access, can mean getting the agreement of neighbours to drain water into streams on their land.

If the above key issues seem to be ok and the possibility of planning permission looks promising then all the other factors that the council will take into account need to be assessed. Landscape impact, ecology, noise, air quality, agricultural land quality, heritage issues, flood risk, ground contamination, infrastructure requirements (improvements to the road network, provision of new schools, parks and doctor’s surgeries etc), how many homes can fit on the site and what the design of the houses will be.

Working through all this detail is expensive and requires considerable specialist knowledge. This is one of the main reasons why so many land owners have chosen to work with a land promoter like Land and Planning Consultancy. Our aim is to deliver optimum planning permissions on behalf of our clients but at our cost and risk. Our reward for doing so is a percentage of the value of the site once it is sold. If we don’t succeed, you don’t pay anything.

Still have a question?

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered on this page, please get in touch via our contact page.

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