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Wearing The Right Lens

7th July 2021

There’s a site I was looking to visit outside of London, a 2 hour journey one way.  It would take up most of the day just on the round trip.  I booked the viewing under the assumption the large property could be converted easily and quickly under a little known planning law applicable to certain types of property.  If so, the end value would have increased between, 50-100%, with permission to be granted, with certainty, within a couple of months.  The property is a vacant Bingo Hall, therefore I assumed wrongly it can not only be converted, but also a couple of floors can be added to the top of the building, without the need of going through a protracted planning process.

The gains do not end at this point; there is also the possibility to get a 6-7 floor building, this time through full planning.  And, a similar block on the car park associated with the building.  This would be a new build block.  Therefore, once the profits have been made from the first building, you would simply be looking to make bonus profits, in a more relaxed manner, and if it didn’t happen then that’s ok, as you have made your money already.  This would have been the ideal project as your profits from the first project are almost certain, and you still have 2-3 other routes to cash in even further.

This was me thinking and speculating, for several days, over the deal.  However, my planner who got back to me very late, perhaps it was just torture on his part, said this would not be possible under the planning law that I was considering due to it being listed as a community use asset.  Outrageous!  When did the sin of gambling come under community use?!?  So, this puts a nail in the coffin, as far as I am concerned.

There is always the potential for gains through full planning, looking at the property from an aerial view, it seems ripe for planning.

However, this is a longer and more complex process, involving negotiations for S106 and so forth, and the whims of councillors, who are controlled by their constituents, and often their decisions have little to do with planning, but rather whims and emotions.

This is not the strategy we wish to employ.  We prefer more certain deals; there are quicker ways to make money.  We have been down the route of full planning and it’s not fun, as there is no certainty to it.  It no doubt would suit a Plc building company, who is honed to do these types of deals day in day out, and their funding lines support their business models.

It just goes to show, one needs to look at the deal with the filtered lens of a planner.  It pays of course to grill and push back on them at times, as most tend to take the path of least resistance and give the most obvious interpretations.

Like all rules there are grey areas, which can sometimes be left to open to interpretation.  There are also rules which can be combined to produce very clever outcomes, by not breaking any legislation, but by using many simultaneously and creatively.

It’s these areas we wish to focus on, and we believe where the money to be made will be in the coming times.

Suresh Vagjiani

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