Tag Archives: Housing Development

Everyone is a Nimby!

Chris Pipe, Director of Planning House offers her top 10 tips for avoiding the title of NIMBY when commenting on a development proposal in the October edition of the Northern Insight Magazine.  If you’re in doubt of what Material Planning Considerations are please also read our download.

Everyone is a NIMBY’ bold title to start an article with but it’s true… we need waste recycling centres and sewerage treatment plants but we don’t want them built next to OUR home. The label of NYMBY conjures up derogatory connotations which isn’t always the case.

So, what is a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), well, to a developer they’re generally perceived as a pain in the proverbial but essentially they can be anyone who is strongly against a development. Often a so-called NIMBY has genuine issues and questions about potential impacts of a development. The term NIMBY comes with an inbuilt sense of contempt. People are sometimes viewed as selfishly putting their own interests ahead of the wider benefits a development could have. So how do people with genuine concerns put this across to developers and the people who make the decisions without gaining the label NIMBY? Here are my top 10 tips:

1 Be informed, don’t take the word of a neighbour or friend find out about a development yourself view plans at your local Council offices or online, and think carefully about how it affects you;

2 Know what planning policies relate to the land/buildings/area there is little point objecting to a housing development on a site which is allocated for housing, you need to be aware of your local and national policies;

3 Be aware of timescales, Council’s generally give 21 days to comment on an application, make sure any comments you have are submitted within the timescale;

4 Avoid knee-jerk responses which are irrelevant, know what material planning considerations are as Councils only take these into account. Thoughtful, well considered objections are much more likely to be affective, if you’re in doubt my website has a summary of What are material planning considerations?;

5 Avoid using a standard letter or relying on a petition, these hold limited weight. A letter/email citing your own reasons will carry more weight in the consideration of an application;

6 Don’t get personal, angry or blame the Planning Officer for the application, they didn’t submit it however it’s their duty to determine the application;

7 – Talk to the Planning Officer, ask them what their view is on the proposal, you can gain a lot by having an open and honest conversation;

8 Gather support, speak to your neighbours, lobby your local Councillor and in some controversial cases your MP for support, don’t expect Councillors to stop the process but they can voice constituent’s concerns in a political arena but this sometimes doesn’t mean a development does not go ahead;

9 Know the process, is the decision going to be taken by the Planning Officer (delegated) or by the Planning Committee? You have an opportunity to speak to a Councillor to ‘call in’ a planning application to the Planning Committee, however the rules and procedures vary by Council so know your local process and how you can be involved in any Committee.

10 Know when to stop, the ultimate decision is not going to please everybody. Councils have a responsibility to listen to objector perspectives, understand them, and weigh up a scheme using their planning judgement it’s not personal, its planning! If a scheme is allowed only a Judicial Review can quash a decision and if refused a planning appeal may be progressed so be prepared it may not be over.

How to avoid becoming a NIMBY
Not In My Back Yard (NIYMBY)

Planning Success in East Durham Village

Planning House has successfully secured outline approval for a detached new home within an agricultural field adjacent to the boundary of the small village of High Hesleden, Co. Durham.    The recommendation was to refuse the planning application, however Durham Planning Committee overturned the recommendation and approved the application unanimously.  The application site is located outside of the defined settlement boundaries at the edge of the village.  The site previously housed the former Blacksmiths which was demolished some years ago.

Plans by Blake Hopkinson Architecture & Design.


Planning myths

Some of the common town planning myths are dispelled in the September issue of Northern Insight by Chris Pipe, Director of Planning House.  This is a must read for anyone embarking on a development project, especially those who may not have been through the planning process previously.

There are some common myths about town planning which you should be aware of before you embark on a project, in this article I want to dispel a few of them.

‘Apply for something bigger than you want to build then you can compromise with the planners to the actual size you want’   What a load of rubbish! Apply for what you want and save time and resources with unnecessary negotiations, if a planner has a scheme they can support they will planners don’t tend to disagree out of obstinance.

‘My plans are similar to down the street, so it’s guaranteed to be approved’   Every planning decision is based on specific circumstances. Policies evolve and significantly influence a planning decision. The creation of a conservation area or where a development boundary line is drawn on a local plan can all fundamentally change the way a proposal is viewed. Planning history and constraints of a site also play a huge part in the process. Whilst precedent can be a contributing factor the planning mantra is ‘every application will be determined on its own merits’.

‘Pre-Application advice has been positive so my application will be approved’  Planning decisions are based on adopted policies, however, don’t underestimate local objections and politics.  If nearby residents object against your application and contact the parish or local councillors you could also end up with objections from them.  Some Councillors sit on the planning committee and can override the planning officer’s recommendations. Speak with neighbours and local representatives in a bid to avoid objections and potential appeal.

‘Planner Officers will guide me to an approval’  A planning officer’s role is to process your application. Some planners are worth their weight in gold and talk to applicants about issues and guide in overcoming them. However, planners have set timeframes to decide an application, they are often under resourced and as a consequence can take the easier route of refusing an application rather than discussing any issues. Contacting your planner to ascertain their view on your application can avoid unnecessary refusal.

‘I’ll get my decision in a couple of months’   Let’s assume your planning application is valid when its submitted, i.e. all relevant information is submitted. Only once its valid does the decision making clock start to tick.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if an application is valid no further information could be requested, something could crop up which means you may need to provide further information, potentially meaning further time is needed. Planning applications have timescales for determination and Council’s try to adhere to these, however extensions of time can be requested by the planners you don’t have to agree to them, but unless you appeal against non-determination the Council can take longer to decide your application, especially if the application goes to the Planning Committee for determination.

‘Once I have permission I can start to build’ Sometimes this is the case but generally there are conditions attached to a planning approval which must be discharged, for instance agreeing a brick or tile for your development or providing information relating to boundaries etc. Check your conditions, as discharging conditions can take a number of weeks which you need to plan into your build schedule.  Also, don’t forget about Building Regulations Consent which is a completely separate process to planning.

‘I can change my plans as I go’  We’ve all seen TV programmes that encourage alterations however be aware that technically, if a proposal is not built in accordance with the approved plans or conditions it doesn’t have planning permission! Changes can be risky and could have fundamental consequences such as enforcement action, demolition, finances being withdrawn by your mortgage company, or an unsellable asset. Always check that changes don’t invalidate your planning permission.

Common Town Planning Myths
Top Tips on Common Myths of Planning

Planning A Self-Build?

In July’s edition of Northern Insight magazine, Chris Pipe talks about the first steps of planning a self build and finding suitable land.  With the Government encouraging housing growth there’s no better time to plan your own ‘Grand Design’ project (large or small).

Most of us have watched Grand Designs and thought ‘I could do that’ but in reality, the UK is well behind Europe in terms of actually building or commissioning our own homes.

The onslaught of planning bureaucracy often associated with the show can make people wary about building their dream home – not to mention the rare occurrence when a Grand Design actually stays in budget!

The planning system is more receptive to self-build housing projects than Grand Designs may portray particularly with emphasis firmly from the Government on housing growth and choice.

The Government specifically promotes self-builds through the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which places a duty on Local Planning Authorities to plan for a mix of housing, including people wishing to build their own home and through the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 placing a requirement on each relevant authority to keep a register of people who are seeking to buy serviced plots of land in the authority’s area in order to build houses.

Assuming you have the finance and drive to build your own home, the first hurdle you face is finding suitable land. There are a few common ways to source a site:

Internet search – there are a few land search websites available, you may need to subscribe;
Local authority register – contact the local authority to register interest in building your own home, they should hold a record of available land;
Land or Estate agents – some sites may not be openly marketed therefore it is advisable to contact agents to make them aware you’re looking for a site;
Local knowledge – you may know of land which may be acquired.

Deciding if or when to bring professionals onboard is your choice. Some people navigate through the planning process successfully, however often the cost of a planning consultant can save you time, potentially money and in some instances can secure you a permission which you may not have been able to achieve. Even a small planning project can be complex, Planning House are here to help.

The services that Planning House provide are always tailored to the client. Some clients want to go head first into submitting a planning application and some are more cautious and want comfort from the local planning authority through pre-application discussions that ‘in principle’ their development will be supported – which I would in general advocate, however each case is different.

Should you decide to progress with a planning application without professional help make sure you have all relevant plans, application, fee and supporting documents for your proposal (i.e. Design & Access Statement, Flood Risk Assessment, Contamination Risk Report, Bat Survey etc) not all applications need technical documents but be aware some do.

It’s also a good idea to speak to neighbours before you submit an application to make them aware of the proposal and pacify any concerns they may have. One piece of advice I would give is don’t take it personally if objections are lodged to your application everyone’s home is their castle.

No better time to build
Do you want to build your own Grand Design?



How to Maximise Land Value

The May edition of Northern Insight contains an article written by Chris Pipe, Planning House

Unless you’re au fait with the planning system and land markets you should seek professional help in maximising land value. I wouldn’t re-wire my house, or carry out medical procedures that’s what experts are for! However, I am fortunate to have worked in both planning and land and appreciate the expertise required for the creation and maximising of value through the planning and land process.

In the first instance, I would recommend a development appraisal for the site which is a good way to ascertain development potential, these appraisals generally consider the planning policy position, local circumstances, planning history and recommend a clear planning strategy to achieve the sites planning potential.

Whilst Planning House can advise on a site’s planning potential through a development appraisal engaging with the relevant local planning authority is a good way of gauging the informal views on your proposal, you do not need to have detailed plans drawn up at this stage. There are many benefits of seeking pre-application advice as well as potentially saving you money in abortive professional fees if development is not feasible. These discussions can flush out any site specific issues and potentially speed up the decision making process. However, be aware local authorities sometimes charge for these discussions.

I would recommend that anyone who wants to maximise land value to speak to a land agent, who are different to estate agents as they specialise in sourcing and disposing of land taking into account build costs and constraints of the site, they can advise initially on existing values and offer guidance in terms of potential values should planning permission be secured. However, a site with development potential will only realise its value once planning permission has been secured. A site marketed as ‘development potential’ will not achieve its true value as this is speculatively based on ‘hope value’.

Some people assume that if a site has development potential its existing value can be inflated without securing planning permission, which is why one of the issues faced by land agents is vendor expectation. Whilst land is an asset the value of it must be offset by the costs of the development itself this will ultimately affect land value, for a development to be realistic it must be viable.

The cost, timescale and resources needed for a planning application depend on the site and proposal. In some cases, it may not be prudent to secure planning consent yourself when weighed against the cost of the planning process, timescales and particulars of your site, however this is very much dependant on the existing and potential difference in value, scale of the site and personal circumstance. Land agents can explore options with you such as land assembly, overage clauses, promotional and option agreements. They will also take into account any covenants, existing tenant or access issues the site may have.

In a nutshell planning permission generally increases land value when there is potential for a viable development, however realising the value must be weighed against the investment needed and timescale to achieve it. If you have a potential development site and are looking to maximise land value contact Planning House to discuss how we can help.

Planing permisson increases land value
Top Tips for maximising Land Value