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Development Opportunities: Small Can be Beautiful

Planning consultant David Kemp BSc (Hons) MRICS Barrister* (*non-practising) and Director at DRK Planning Ltd, comments

For many SME property developers and investors, the prospect of building a property development business or portfolio can seem exciting, yet daunting, not least due to the complexities of the UK planning system.

The alternatives in terms of finding and developing properties whilst adding value through planning approval can range from obtaining lawful development certificates to regularising a previously unlawful residential conversion, through to Prior Approval particularly under new Class MA rights, or through to full planning permission.

This article looks at a recent case study that presents at a very simple and straightforward level the typical challenges faced on the latter through full planning applications.

Infill development opportunity
We were engaged in April 2020 by our client, Ozan Redjep, to advise on a site that was a potential infill opportunity at the end of a terrace in Romford, East London.

The site comprised land partially consisting of an enclosed parking space and otherwise open garden land reserved for the benefit of the 1-bedroom, 2-storey house on the adjacent plot.  Mature trees (no tree preservation order) sat at the front of the plot, which abuts long narrow gardens to the rear of nearby terraces. The overhead image below shows the context of the vacant garden site next to existing houses:

In May of 2020, we sought pre-application advice from the council (London Borough of Redbridge) for a two-storey, two-bedroom house on the amenity space. The key issues identified by the planners were:

  • Design of the property: with regard to scale, height, width, building line, plot coverage and external appearance and materials relative to neighbouring houses.
  • Impact on outlook from side ground floor windows of adjacent property (these windows serve a kitchen) as a result of erecting a new house on this boundary.
  • Loss of amenity space to the neighbouring house and inadequate amenity space to the new house.  
  • Retention of the trees at the front: these were considered to contribute positively to the surrounding area.

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