The planning process can sometimes be a challenge for self-builders and professional developers alike; this blog post outlines some key factors to consider when applying for planning permission for a new build home or housing scheme.
I wrote the following blog post a week or so before the country was in lockdown. How very quickly things can change. However, we are carrying on the best we can and even with a lot of sites closing there is still plenty to be getting on with.
In many ways, this is a perfect time to be working on drawings for planning applications. The planners themselves are still working, so what better time than to get your scheme approved and ready to start on site when these difficult times eventually end.
Allow plenty of time to secure planning permission. It can be a lengthy process.
We have recently reviewed the difficulties faced by some of our projects when it comes to planning. Restrictions are becoming increasingly severe as time goes on, particularly with regard to new build properties. Applications can be even more challenging when you are looking to demolish an existing property in order to build a new home.
We thought we would share some case-studies with you some of the issues that can arise when building from scratch and more importantly, how they can be overcome.
Case 1: Starting from scratch in Richmond
A client came to us hoping to get permission to demolish the existing property on the plot they own in Richmond and build a modern home in its place. Local authorities quite rightly ask for justification when demolition works are to take place, requiring the benefits of the new property to outweigh the carbon impact caused by loss of embodied carbon in the existing building.
Factors they look for to counteract this include: affordable housing contributions, demonstration of sustainable credentials of the building (carbon-zero or even carbon-negative schemes) and improvements to the ecology and drainage, such as additional planting and sustainable drainage systems.
We are currently helping our clients through this challenging process – it can take months or even years for permission to be granted.
To keep this waiting time to a minimum it is important the drawings you submit are as detailed as possible and take into account the council’s concerns.
Case 2: Two homes in Croydon
Another of our clients owns a 1960’s bungalow in Croydon and approached us last year looking for help to get planning permission. They were hoping to demolish the existing house and replace it with 2x family homes. This might sound somewhat unusual, but is actually a policy encouraged by Croydon Council. The locality is a relatively low rise, sparsely populated suburban area, so they are keen to use the ample space to increase the number of homes available in this up and coming borough.
So, where do the issues lie?
We discovered a listed building on the neighbouring plot. Therefore, our client’s new dwellings must be designed in a way that references the listed building without resorting to pastiche.
The council are likely to require a lot of details in terms of building materials and design early on, in order to see evidence that the plans comply with their demands.
This can result in additional and unforeseen costs, relating to the time consumed in issuing plans with such levels of detail.
A further consideration is the site is in a flood risk area. Plans must, therefore, include sustainable drainage systems as well as all the usual environmental requirements that new-build designs must meet.
We will keep you updated on our progress in Croydon. Currently, we are still working on plans to give our client the best chances of getting permissions without having to go to appeal.
Case 3: Garden flats in Purley
For this project, we are assisting our client in applying for planning permission to build a three-storey new build to the rear garden of an existing property. Schemes such as this only tend to be possible where the garden is truly spacious, enough so that the new building will not negatively affect the light and perception of space in the existing property.
This site is challenging due to the steep level change across the land, meaning that part of the ground-floor property would be in a ‘semi-basement’.
The design has to take this into consideration and make sure all lower-level rooms have good natural light and plenty of ventilation. In addition, we have to ensure that the views from the top floor do not impinge on the privacy of the neighbouring houses and gardens.
A tricky balance to strike!
Generally, as with Case Study 2, Croydon council are encouraging applications that increase density in spacious suburban areas. The main challenges faced by our client are to make sure the design of the new-build is sympathetic to the surrounding properties and do not have any impact on the numerous mature trees that pre-exist in the garden and on the curbside next to the plot.
We’re pleased that planning permission has been granted for this development and there will be nine new apartments coming in 2020.
Case 4: A transformed garage in North London
Our final case study is a project in Kensal Green that has been in the planning permission process for over ten years, but that has recently been granted permissions. Our clients wanted to demolish their detached, double garage, which they currently use for storage, and build a two-storey dwelling in its place.
Brent council had concerns with the scheme for a variety of different reasons. The site is relatively small – approximately 205 square meters – and the council were concerned not only that the new home would encroach onto the neighbouring properties, but also that the garden was uncharacteristically small and too close to the neighbour’s windows for acceptable privacy.
We addressed both of these issues through clever design that carefully considered the neighbouring properties to appease the planning officers and a very persistent approach.
After many design revisions, we are delighted to say that planning permission was granted.
The final designs can be found via this link.
We are here to help!
More often than not, the numerous challenges faced by anyone taking on planning permission for a new-build scheme are possible to work out through clever and thoughtful design.
Local authority planning teams have good reasons for the measures they put in place, so with the right design approach, careful attention to detail, and a consideration of environmental factors, permissions will usually, eventually, be granted!