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Property Purchase - Pre-App Advice

In many instances if you are considering a property purchase for development there is a likelihood you will need planning permission for the project.

Investors and developers may want to try and find out as much as possible before purchase.

One of the most common questions I get asked is:

”How do I know if I will get planning permission?”

Once upon a time a member of the public could pick up the phone to their local planning department and have a chat with a planning officer…. this is not the case now.

Planning departments are significantly stretched with limited budgets and officers ‘on the ground’. Pre-application advice opportunities are sometimes still available but at a cost either financially (there is a payment to be made for the service) or there is a timing implication.

Often sellers will not want to wait 6 months for a potential purchaser to obtain pre-application advice. Property investors often have a dilemma when it comes to planning and their due diligence.

Be cautious of just relying on precedents in the area…. In some instances these can be helpful but this is not how the merits of development are solely considered by a planning department.

Vague proposals will not get you any definitive answers!

When seeking advice on development options though, be clear on what you are proposing - have an indicative plan - you are more likely to get an opinion.

So what can you do?

1. Undertake your own research. In particular, into the planning history of the property and whether applications have been submitted before for what you are proposing - this can be very telling.

2. It is still worth investigating what pre-application advice your council offers and how you can obtain it - every Council is different.

3. Get a planning consultant to undertake a site planning appraisal for you. Planning consultants that know the particular council and with years of experience in planning legislation and policy matters, will be able to give you a professional opinion. They are not the decision makers however, but it is likely to answer a lot of your questions to aid your due diligence.


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