21 November 2017

Did you know that national planning policy is changing ?

The Department for Communities and Local Government has recently undertaken consultation on a proposed number of changes to planning policy and legislation designed to increase the availability of new housing in England: “Planning for the right homes in the right places”.

Following on from the related White Paper published in February 2017:” Fixing our broken Housing Market”, the consultation closed on 9th November 2017 with a view to modifying the National Planning Policy Framework in the spring of 2018 with the aim of delivering significantly increased numbers of well- designed new homes in the right locations much more quickly than has previously been possible.

This is to be achieved by standardising the methodology of calculating local housing need and reducing the opportunity for delay and dispute in the process of determining within individual authorities’ areas the locations that would be suitable for the building of new homes.

Essentially Local Authorities are being tasked with greatly increasing the opportunities for new homes in their areas and failure to identify, plan for and continue to monitor the provision of new homes against the identified housing need will have serious consequences in a local authoritys ability to control development in their area. In contrast, more ambitious Local Authorities who exceed the housing need targets will be effectively rewarded through access to additional central government funding.

So what does this mean for you ?

Although there is a clear intention as a matter of policy to increase the supply of new homes nationally and to flex the planning system where possible it does not mean that indiscriminate uncontrolled building will be permitted. Huge swathes of Green Belt land are not going to be re-designated as part of this process.

But it is possible that it will encourage Local authorities to re-assess previous local plans and possibly rethink sites previously ruled out as being inappropriate where they have few alternatives and a need to meet the required number of opportunities in the local plan.

Many existing home owners who are thinking of moving ,  particularly those with larger gardens, redundant outbuildings or orchards may soon be in a good position to unlock the potential development value in their property.

But planning is complicated, time consuming and expensive ?

All of the above is true but fortunately there are a range of developers who have the expertise to deal with planning who need opportunities in the form of potential  sites who can navigate their way through the complications. Many of these will often independently contact property owners to enquire whether they would be interested in talking to them about possible opportunities.

There are many different ways in which  possible development  agreements can be put in place with a developer  but all of them  will have the same end goal of ensuring that the profit to be made by the developer is maximised. So you may be asked to give the developer an option to buy your property for a period of time  when they have successfully obtained planning permission – sometimes an option fee is payable when the agreement is entered into. You may be asked to enter into an agreement for a period of time that is conditional on the developer securing planning at a price determined by the value of the property when permission has been obtained. Again, you may be asked to sell outright at an agreed price that does not reflect the potential value of the property with the benefit of an anticipated planning permission ; leading you  to consider provisions that require the developer to pay a further payment following the purchase ( often called a clawback or overage payment ). Another type of arrangement is known as a “Promotion Agreement”

What must I do if I am approached by a developer ?

When it comes to understanding the issues that apply to re-developing a site and of the risks and rewards a developer will always have an advantage over most home owners.

You must take your own independent legal advice whenever you are approached by a developer seeking to persuade you to join with them in any kind of development agreement before you agree to any proposed terms or sign any documentation and you should ensure that the developer agrees to pay your legal fees for such advice.  You may also need to take some independent planning or valuation advice.

Once agreed any option agreement or conditional agreement may prevent you selling your property until the period it was granted for expires.

Planning permission can take some time to obtain and although a developer needs sufficient time to negotiate a permission with the local authority that will deliver maximum profit, you should not sterilise your property for an overly- extended period if you think you may wish to sell prior to the expiration of that period.

How can Gepp & Sons help ?

Gepp & Sons have considerable experience acting both for developers and for land owners of development sites and are familiar with a huge variety of different types of development agreements and can assist with any approach made to you in these circumstances

Please feel free to contact Richard Jackson on 01245 228134 or by email at to discuss