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News  |  23 August 2019

Free site assessment.

There is a good deal of risk and uncertainty involved in building your own home. Of course the rewards can be manifest but the journey can be long and arduous, and it is certainly not for the fainthearted.

For most people finding land is the first hurdle to overcome. Land itself is pretty easy to come by but good quality buildable land is not easy to find. In our “Top tips for finding land” (found here in the details section of our website) we go so far as to say “Rule 1 — Don’t look for a plot!” It might sound strange but it’s the best advice we can give. Look for a rundown house you can knock down, or a site where you can build in the garden (more on this below). It’s easier to get planning permission on a site that already has a precedent.”

There are many beautiful sites for sale that have virtually zero chance of you ever getting planning permission. For example, in the UK there are often parcels of land within the greenbelt that many people dream of building on. They are often sold at appealing prices and the sales particulars say something along the lines of “has potential for building subject to all of the statutory planning consents.” Whilst this is technically true the reality is that you are extremely unlikely to have planning permission granted. This is not to say that it is impossible — in fact there are clauses within planning policy that provide a small glimmer of hope.

Paragraph 79
One such clause is Paragraph 79 of the National Planning Policy Framework — the so-called ‘Gummer clause’ of the early 1990s. The framework allows isolated homes to be constructed on greenbelt land only if the design is of exceptional quality. It must be truly outstanding or innovative, reflecting the highest standards in architecture, and must help to raise standards of design in rural areas generally. Also, the house must significantly enhance its immediate setting, and be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area. In reality this is exceptionally difficult to achieve and requires enormous patience and very deep pockets rendering it out of the question for most people.

As mentioned above one way to help your chances of having planning granted is to look for a rundown house you can knock down, or a site where you can build in the garden. This makes things much easier as the precedent for building a residential property is there. It is not guaranteed however and there may still be constraints as to what you can and can’t build. For example, it may be that you are confined to the footprint of the existing or previous building.

In addition, many people wish to build within the garden of their existing home, for example an additional dwelling to sell as an investment or as a home for a family member. There is definitely potential here but once again it is not clear-cut; it might be for example that there are issues over access to the new dwelling or over — looking of neighbouring properties.

Another important consideration is the suitability of what it is you wish to build to the site and locality, for example the size and style of the house plus additional considerations such as access to the site in order to undertake building works.

All in all it can be a minefield!

What do we do (in the UK and Ireland):

An experienced member of our team will undertake a desktop study to review the site in the context of the Local Plan, plus relevant local and national planning policy and precedent. We are always honest and upfront about this assessment because it’s not in anyone’s interest to go ahead if there’s a limited chance of success.

We produce a simple report to explain what we think the chances of gaining planning consent are and what we think the key points for consideration are as well as the correct strategy for applying for planning.

If you would like us to assess a site for you, please complete this enquiry form – and be sure to give us your phone number.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch via email or phone on 01183 800 171. For more on planning and what it’s all about read our Introduction to planning here.

We look forward to hearing from you!
Hilary

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