Planning

The world of development planning has evolved significantly in the last few years.

Many moves to “simplify” the system have resulted in a system which is, in many ways, more complicated than ever.

With national policy, local policy, neighbourhood plans, case law and appeal decisions there is a lot to consider when preparing anything to go in to the planning system.

 

One chance to make a first impression

Professional advice from an early stage can assist in shaping proposals to ensure the highest chance of success –you only get one chance to make a first impression within what has become a system very much exposed to the public.

Additionally, if your proposals are contrary to policy, and we don’t think we can help, we will tell you.

Advice on all aspects

We regularly advise on all aspects of planning and development, from initial development appraisals to policy advice and submission of different types of planning applications, as well as undertaking strategic land promotion work –negotiating promotion and option agreements.  

Working with established professionals

We work with established professional contacts to source supporting documentation such as ecological surveys, design drawings and structural surveys and have experience working with all of the local authorities in Worcestershire and the surrounding counties as well as a few further afield.  

Happy to take control

We are happy taking complete control of your schemes or, where required, we can work with your chosen architects and professionals to support your application.

Planning Applications

When preparing an application for submission there are both national and local validation requirements which must be complied with in order for a local planning authority to accept and validate your application.  We have experience in preparing, and sourcing, all of the required documentation and have successfully prepared and submitted applications for a variety of purposes including, but not limited to:

  • Outline residential consents;
  • Change of use of land and buildings (including agricultural to residential, agricultural to holiday lets, equestrian change of use);
  • Equestrian stabling/facilities and manages;
  • New agricultural buildings;
  • Condition variation applications (for existing consents);
  • New accesses;
  • New agricultural workers dwellings.

Development Appraisals and Pre-Application Advice

We are able to provide you with comprehensive, justified, development appraisals for schemes large and small. By providing us with your proposals at an early stage we can access the proposal against the relevant policies and information and advise as to whether it is likely to comply or whether some alterations would assist in securing your consent. Beyond this we can, if required, prepare and present pre-application advice requests to the local authority and attend meetings to discuss proposals. Pre-application advice discussions are particularly useful to discuss specific design elements, landscaping and checking the principle of a proposal prior to significant financial outlay. Furthermore, pre-application advice is confidential until an application is submitted – providing the ideal platform to explore proposals outside of the public domain.

Enforcement and Retrospective Applications

We have experience in liaising with local authority enforcement teams to find solutions to breaches of planning and, where feasible, we can submit retrospective planning applications. We can advise as to the meaning of enforcement notices, stop notices and planning contravention notices and advise as to the options which are available. Often breaches of planning arise from people not realising they require planning consent for a proposal and there is a mechanism within planning legislation meaning retrospective applications should be considered as if the development has not occurred. Whilst retrospective applications should not be relied upon we have experience in liaising with the local authority to regularise breaches of planning control.

Certificates of Lawfulness

Certificates of Lawfulness take a variety of forms and can be utilised to confirm that works done are lawful or do not require planning consent. Additionally, where there has been a breach of planning control or a condition, there is an opportunity to apply for a certificate if the breach has occurred for the required time limit. With sufficient evidence we have had success achieving certificates of lawfulness for breaches of planning conditions or buildings without consent. The most common examples would be the erection of a building without consent or breach of a condition on an existing consent, such as an agricultural occupancy condition, which can be made immune from enforcement via this route.

Removal of Agricultural Occupancy Conditions

We have had 100% success with applications to remove agricultural occupancy conditions. The removal of such conditions is evidence based to prove a lack of requirement for a property to house an agricultural or forestry worker. Most authorities require a marketing period for a minimum of six to twelve months and, due to our professional services and estate agency being linked, we are able to undertake the required marketing, sufficiently log enquiries and collect the evidence base and justification for submission all from the same office. Removal of such a condition will typically add 20-30% on to the existing property value with the tie in place.

Option and Promotion Agreements

We have significant experience and contacts which can be utilised for bringing small and large parcels of land forward for development. We are able to contact developers and promotors, with whom we regularly work, and advise landowners as to the options available for their land’s potential to be released in the most efficient manner possible. We are then able to advise on heads of terms for agreements, prices per acre and general mechanisms to expect within the process.  In most cases the developer/promotor carries the risk with the initial costs, pays your agent fees and pays you a fee to exercise the agreement so such options, with professional advice, are worth considering. We also have good contacts with several legal firms who specialise in such agreements and we are able to work with them seamlessly to ensure the agreement protects the landowner appropriately.

Appeals

Should your planning application not provide the outcome you were hoping for we can also prepare and submit planning appeals and have experience supporting these through both written representations and hearings. Similarly, to the initial planning application process we have a network of professionals who we work with to put forward the best statement of case for an appeal.

Discharge of Planning Conditions

The vast majority of planning consents are granted subject to conditions. Without formally discharging these conditions the planning consent achieved is not complete and to start without discharging them is tantamount to not having planning consent. Conditions can very from pre-commencement conditions to pre-occupation conditions and timings can often be important especially with ecological conditions. We are able to formally discharge conditions on consents which we have obtained to enable you to start works. We can also take on condition discharge work on consent obtained by other agents where necessary.

Section 106 Agreements/Planning Obligations

Some developments, such as residential developments, are often subject to planning obligations and payments secured via a Section 106 agreement. Such agreements secure affordable housing units, contributions to open space, cycling, local schools etc. and are often key to providing infrastructure to support a new development within the locality. There are, however, some issues to monitor as obligations can soon add up and can place some developments in danger of being unviable and therefore undeliverable for a developer. We can advise as to the impact of contributions, drafting of section 106 agreements, levels of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) in an area and when bringing a site forward. As registered valuers we are well placed to advise on the viability of proposals considering individual schemes and the level of contributions proposed.

Permitted Development

Permitted development rights, particularly in the rural sector, have evolved significantly in the last few years. We can advise on the permitted development rights available to both householders and agricultural clients. There is a raft of permitted development rights for agricultural buildings allowing flexible commercial uses and residential conversions. Whilst some development may be considered as “permitted” most proposals must go through a prior notification process via the local authority to check that they meet the required criteria or whether a full application is required. Unfortunately, this prior notification process still requires supporting information and evidence such as structural surveys and proof of agricultural use. We have experience in preparing such applications as well as advising whether proposals come under permitted development in the first place.

Householder Applications

Householder applications include any proposal within a residential curtilage which don’t come under permitted development.  This can include extensions, garage buildings and new driveways or access. We have had success securing residential extensions and garage buildings for residential properties and can advise as to the limits of your local authorities’ policy when considering your initial proposals to ensure the highest chance of success.