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Whether you are developing a small parcel of land for a granny annexe or a large greenfield site for a mixed-use 1,000 unit extracare scheme, the key considerations remain the same.  I thought that with my first blog I would set some of these out, so here goes….

Property
You need to check the extent of the property in terms of its title boundaries as well as “on the ground” to ensure that the land you are developing, is or will be in your actual ownership. My learned colleague, Bethan Blackburn produced a useful blog on this (“What is mine?”).

Access
You need access to your site, it goes without saying! Are you hoping to access the site from an adopted highway? If so, it’s important to ensure that the boundary of the property immediately abuts and adjoins the highway. A highways search should be carried out to check the extent of what is adopted and an overlay should be carried out with the title boundaries to ensure that there are no intervening strips.  If the intention is to access the site via a third party owned property or private road, it is important to check that there are adequate rights of way granted over this allowing free and unrestricted access for the intended purpose. Sometimes, rights of way are granted in historical deeds and they are not always sufficient to rely on for future development (be wary of intensification!).  Also, check the position in terms of maintenance of private roads.

Services
You may have to lay service apparatus and/or arrange appropriate service connections into existing service apparatus for your new development.  Therefore, as with access you need to consider carefully how you will be servicing the site, including the intended connections and the routes for new services having regard to capacity requirements.  If you are connecting into services which run within third party owned property, it is important to check that proper rights are in place.  You should also check for existing services by carrying out full utilities searches (even if you are intending to lay new services).  If existing service apparatus is found within the site, it will either need to be accommodated within your estate layout or you will need to arrange for it to be diverted (which can be expensive).  Depending on the scale of the proposed development there may be substantial costs in implementing a workable servicing strategy.

Planning
Always check that you have the correct planning consents in place to allow you to carry out the development works.  It is important to bear in mind the conditions attached to planning from a local planning authority (LPA).  It is not uncommon for LPAs to set out a whole raft of pre-commencement conditions which must be satisfied before you even go about substantially carrying out your works.  Also, you may find that there are several pre-occupation conditions which must be satisfied, compliance of which could delay onward sales (or the sales “ka-ching!”) so always be wary of these. Section 106 Planning Agreements may also impose a number of obligations (the requirement to pay commuted sums, the requirement to surrender parts of the site for open space, affordable housing etc.). Compliance of planning requirements can be costly and so should be considered as part of the overall scheme viability.

These are just a few key considerations to bear in mind and so this is far from an exhaustive list. There is sooooo much more to consider but unfortunately, due to “blog capacity restrictions” I cannot keep going and I must end your (hopefully!) riveting read here…

For advice on property development, please contact me on 02476 993080 or another member of the Feldon Dunsmore team on 02476 991719.

Author: Wasim Mohammed

6 November 2020