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The Alchemy of Planning

30th April 2019

Currently, we’re looking at a scheme which we believe will almost double in value, in a short space of time; about one and a half years.

This sort of gain is possible when you can add value through planning.  In short, planning changes the utility of a property, from one use to another.

The site has a property which is currently office use.  The plan is to change this to residential.

The seller provided a scheme, which simply drew a number of units over several floors, over the whole site area.  This had no bearing on reality.  In order to get planning, one must be conscious of the criteria at both national and local level when applying.

This was put to our planner who gave some guidance on a framework to use on the design.  This was then passed to the architect who drew one up according to the revised guidance.  These are the steps to be taken when assessing a site.  Missing the planner in the process is dangerous, especially with the larger schemes which have many nuances.  The council has a policy, a process and humans who are not always rational when implementing them.

A good grasp of all these components is required, even if it means you know it will be rejected at the local level.  This is because there are two levels at play, one is at the local level and the other is at the national level.

Planning may be rejected at the local level purely due to political reasons, not for planning ones.  The same rejected application might sail through at the national level.  This is because at the national level the process is depoliticised.

And the strange thing is, the very same councillors will know at the local level that it will be approved at the national level, and still reject it.

It takes understanding and experience to appreciate how the wheels of planning turn.

But here is where the greatest gains are made in property.  The process is an alchemic one, which turns something from lead into gold.

Our assessment of the site reveals that about 25,000 sq. ft.  of planning can be gained.  This is by being compliant with the rules.  Once the initial planning has been approved, there is the option to go back in and try for further enhancements.  This is a common approach in planning.  It helps if the council in question is pro development.  We see this site being approved at the local level without the need to go national.

Once the base planning has been approved, you can go back in for further enhancements, as the fall-back position has now been secured.

Our initial analysis values the site conservatively at £6M.  Our experience is once a site gains planning, you do not need to place it on the market.  Buyers, agents and runners will seek you out and tempt you to go with them.

The price of the site is £3.5M and is available now to be closed.  Do get in touch if this interests you.

Suresh Vagjiani

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