Planning & Development

Our in-house planning and development team consisting of qualified professionals of both the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) are experts in promoting land and property for development.

Planning Appraisal and Strategy

We will make an informed and efficient in-house assessment of any development potential and planning feasibility, to help balance risk and reward, resulting in an appropriate strategy that strives to maximise the opportunities for a successful planning application and development scheme. If you are unsure where to start, uncertain about how much it is going to cost or simply needing honest advice, our planning team can provide clarity and peace of mind.

For most development proposals, a Pre-Application Enquiry is a good place to start. It is a service provided by the Local Planning Authority which gives an indication as to whether the principle of development would be supported by the Council, based on its interpretation and implementation of local and national planning policy. It can also provide feedback on design and technical issues, such as access and drainage. Although there are occasions where this stage may not be necessary, incorporating it into the planning process can have a range of benefits including; reducing risk, formulating a budget and ensuring you are cost effective. Although a Pre-Application Enquiry has no formal status, a positive response from the Council can in itself help increase land price by demonstrating ‘hope value’.

For major developments it may be necessary to screen the proposal against the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations to determine whether an Environmental Statement will be required as part of the planning application. We will deal with this process in a timely manner to avoid project delays and when necessary, we will undertake further scoping to confirm the exact level of information required for an EIA preventing unnecessary costs.

Our planning team have considerable experience in the preparation and project management of planning applications. Even small-scale development can in many cases require the submission of detailed supporting information to demonstrate compliance with relevant planning policies and technical guidance. Our planners will prepare, amongst other things, comprehensive Planning Statements, Design and Access Statements, Statements of Community Involvement and Heritage Statements.

In the event it is necessary to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against the decision of a Local Planning Authority on a planning application, our planners will prepare a robust Statement of Case to rebut the reasons for refusal. We will act for our clients when responding to further information requirements and speak on their behalf at appeal hearings when required.

Local Planning Authorities have strict validation requirements and if information is missing from a planning application, this can result in long delays that could otherwise be avoided. Planning application will often require input from other professionals including architects, transport consultants, engineers, ecologists and archaeologists. We will provide dedicated project management to ensure our clients receive competitive quotes from our extensive network of trusted, specialist consultants, and any work instructed is undertaken efficiently and effectively within agreed timescales.

We will also represent our clients during the determination period of a planning application, when there will often be various stages of negotiation with the Local Planning Authority to agree developer contributions for Section 106 Agreements or pre-commencement planning conditions.

Although achieving planning permission is a significant milestone, there can still be complex issues to deal with when addressing and purifying conditions attached to a planning permission. We will assist clients with all post decision work to ensure development can start on site at the earliest opportunity and if necessary, challenge planning conditions that are having a negative impact on the deliverability of a planning permission.

If you are unsure whether an existing building or use of a building is lawful, we can assess whether you are exempt from enforcement action and help assemble the required supporting information to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate. This may be particularly important in the event of a sale, or prior to expansion of an existing business or residential property. If you have been served an enforcement notice by the Local Planning Authority and find yourself requiring planning permission but do not qualify to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate, we can help you secure retrospective planning permission.

We will seek to influence local planning policy through engagement in public consultation exercises undertaken by the Local Planning Authority, in order to give developers and landowners with logical development sites, the best opportunity to secure a development allocation in emerging local plans. This includes bringing development opportunities to the attention of the Local Planning Authority, by way of individual and bespoke representations, at every stage of the plan making process, from ‘call for sites’ through to draft plan consultation and Examination in Public.

Our planning and development team have an expert eye when it comes to identifying development opportunities, and are regularly involved in appraising sites throughout the UK for housebuilders, commercial enterprises and individual landowners.

When confronted by constraints (e.g. access difficulties or land designations) we exhaust all feasible and logical options in order to give the site the best opportunity to be considered achievable and deliverable for new development. We have a considerable portfolio of development opportunities through our landowner clients, and have worked with a number of mainstream housebuilders and strategic land promoters to identify developable land to meet their specific site requirements.

We are specialists in the promotion of strategic land, taking a potential development site through the planning system from inception up to sale. We will work on behalf of housebuilders and developers to promote sites for development allocation, including green belt land, by way of comprehensive representations to emerging local plans and green belt reviews.

When a local plan is failing to meet its development requirements (for example under-delivery of housing to meet local need), national planning policy provides a mechanism for unallocated land to be considered for development when the benefits of a proposed development are weighed against any potential adverse harm. Our planners are experts in preparing planning applications to highlight the social and economic benefits of development and assessing the potential environmental impact of a proposal to ensure any perceived adverse harm can be appropriately mitigated.

For landowners, careful consideration should be given when identifying the most appropriate route to take when promoting your land for development. There are option agreements, promotion agreements and the choice to self-finance the planning process. Each route has different benefits, and each carries a very different risk and reward profile. We can advise landowners as to which tailored route best suits their individual circumstances. With our extensive contact base of developers and promoters, we have achieved great success in securing bespoke option and promotion agreements and assisting those who can self-finance the promotion of development sites through the planning system.

Our planning team have considerable experience in dealing with rural diversification projects. Many farm diversification plans include renewable energy, residential development and mixed-use schemes such as farm shops and cafes, or flexible commercial business units. Recognising the aesthetic and historical value of traditional farm buildings, new planning policy continues to promote the re-use and conversion of redundant farm buildings. This encourages bringing buildings, that are not suitable for modern agricultural practices, back into effective use where it will support the rural economy.

Although subsidies for renewable energy have reduced in recent years, they have not dried up completely and with the technology improving all the time, payback periods are shortening making investments viable even without grant funding in some cases. At a time of increasing energy prices, it could be a smart move to reduce your dependency on centralised energy sources.