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Don’t wait for build, build, build, develop within existing planning regime

Post by

Michael Grimwood

Business Development Manager UK

Don’t wait for build, build, build, develop within existing planning regime

Why wait for build, build, build to become a reality? Let’s get developments moving within the existing planning system.

The announcement of the Government’s build, build, build plan in June this year, which encompasses significant planning law changes, has been welcomed by many involved in the real estate sector. However, the new system will take time to bed down and the arrival of judicial review proceedings in August has added to uncertainties about just when and how the new planning system will actually get up and running.

If the judicial review was to be successful, it could result in significant delays to the Government’s programme of planning reform. And for those that may already have made investment decisions or implemented development plans based on the new regulations there could be significant implications.

The question is what can investors and developers with shovel ready plans and opportunities awaiting do now? Wait for the judicial review process to take its course – a judicial review normally takes several months to conclude – or look for an alternative way to proceed with confidence?

The existing planning system is tried and tested and developments within its scope can proceed while the planning system upgrade takes it course. Although any successful planning application using the existing rules will still need to be a well-considered. Therefore, taking the time to work through the application before applying is undoubtedly the best way forward.

Your first guiding principle should be build what we need before building what we want. There can be little doubt that sentiment and policy are moving in a direction of needs rather than wants based development.

Engagement with the local community at an early stage, is more likely to deliver a strong scheme which benefits the existing infrastructure and is therefore more likely to succeed quickly. Working in a joint venture arrangement with the local authority can be an effective way to achieve this.

Of increasing importance is active consideration of the environmental impact of your development. Make sure that you undertake all of the relevant review processes and where necessary protect your site from future claims against it with environmental protection insurance.

In a post Covid-19 world open spaces have never been so important. Providing right sized gardens and ensuring there are sufficient open spaces and parks such as community gardens are likely to be looked on favourably by planners to say nothing of eventual purchasers.

This focus can lead to more effective placemaking than a scheme which values size and plot numbers as its driving force.

The neighbours need to be looked after and for developments where there is existing residential or office space consider how your scheme might overshadow the surrounding properties or lead to the reduction of light enjoyment.

All of the above may be the most straightforward route to getting planning approval, but investors and developers need to consider the possibility of unexpected costs such as costly delays and potential appeal costs. Protecting the investment and ensuring a development remains commercially viable is a key part of an effective planning application.

Property investors and developers face a double whammy from a changing planning system while at the same time facing a period of significant economic uncertainty. While this may cause some to pause projects or reduce the number of projects, this approach will undoubtedly lead to opportunities being lost.

Using a considered approach to planning applications that also combines effective indemnity insurance products to reduce or remove risk can be a game changer that will allow investors and developers to invest with confidence and ultimately reap the rewards that those stalled and waiting for the planning uncertainties to lift may miss.

To find out more about CLS Risk Solutions’ range of insurance products and services that can help smooth the planning process visit our website. www.clsrs.co.uk

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