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Property Development: 101 Plus - Part 5

Brynley Little and Richard Little of Your Land Partner continue their series of articles

Successful developers invest time, effort and money to understand the fundamentals of the business; Process, People, Product and (Market)Place. These fundamentals form a solid foundation in which to build a low risk, high reward property development business that can have a positive impact to many.

In last month’s article (November) we discussed stage two of the property development lifecycle, securing deals. This month we move on to another important topic, planning.

Many view the planning system as red tape and something they have to fight their way through. These people don’t last long as developers. This article is not a deep dive into the intricacies of the UK planning system, but rather an insight into understanding how to work with the system and use it to your advantage. We are going to give you a brief overview of the planning system in England, looking at the key people involved throughout the process and focusing on planning strategy. Please note that if you are developing in Wales and Scotland, there are differences in the systems of those countries compared to that of England.

The planning system
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is the overarching document that contains the guidelines for all LPAs to set local policies and control development. The NPPF, set out by the national government, contains topics such as achieving sustainable development, delivering a sufficient supply of homes, building a strong, competitive economy, making effective use of land, and achieving well-designed places.

England has a plan-led system, meaning every LPA must prepare a local plan, containing local policies and an outline of how land should be used, determining what should be built when. Local policies are typically set out over a 10-20-year period to ensure development is in line with creating sustainable infrastructure and communities. By law, each local plan must contain core policies, site allocations, development plan documents and a proposals map. In addition to the local plan, LPAs produce supporting documents such as strategic housing land availability assessments (SHLAA) and strategic housing market assessments (SHMA) that focus on the suitability, availability, achievability and need of land for housing and development. You may find that your LPA has supplementary documentation relating to design guidance. These are useful when it comes to looking at scheme design and how the land can be used most efficiently. You’ll find information identifying criteria that local projects should adhere to such as car parking, amenities, open space, local character, and density.

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