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Combining PD (Class MA) With ‘Air Rights’ Development

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

This month we are looking at a recent case study showcasing how we managed to optimise the development of a small ‘backland’ site in a constrained town centre location.

We all appreciate that it is always important for property developers and investors to have a vision for the ‘art of the possible’, as this can help to reveal opportunities that others might otherwise overlook or perceive as too improbable. However, this also needs to be balanced against robust due diligence in identifying potential limitations or constraints that will need to be overcome, either at the planning approval or implementation stage.

A good understanding of the constraints to development is an important ‘first step’ when devising a successful planning strategy.

The opportunity
Our client bought a site that comprised of a former piano shop to the front, with a restaurant next door, also at ground floor, and with flats above. To the rear of the piano shop and the restaurant was a large single storey storage building that was used by the piano store, but which also came under Use Class E.

The key opportunity lay in the possible conversion of the piano shop, especially the store to the rear. However, the existing plans illustrate the close proximity of the store to the rear of the piano shop. This would create challenges in terms of sunlight and daylight to the rear, and access for bins and bicycles.

The plan illustrates that the first stage was to seek to change the use of the store to the rear to 4 x studio flats. This would first have required changes to the store elevations facing the rear of the block to create separate entrances and windows. 

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