We do a very large amount of development (site) appraisals for new and existing clients which can be used as a standalone advice service or can lead into further work such as submission of an application on your behalf. In some cases such appraisals can be utilised by other professionals (such as architects) to design and develop policy compliant proposals.
We are the original planning agents to have introduced, just over two years ago prior to Christmas 2021, the traffic light logo system attached to our appraisals immediately visually signalling the overall opinion of the site for users of our appraisal work.
Most site appraisals are undertaken to allow potential purchasers, or existing property owners, to understand their options for development of a site. Development does, of course, cover a multitude of things in line with the definition in the Town and Country Planning Act so for the avoidance of doubt – this generally means anything which would need planning permission, prior approval or similar. Despite this focus on what generally needs specific permission we do often flag what could be done within the scope of permitted development too as this can assist with leverage, fallback positions etc. as a material consideration.
Most appraisals are commonly instructed following two general approaches; those who wish to understand whether a specific proposal could be acceptable or those who wish to explore the wider options for a site, with no specific brief or proposal in mind. The latter is usually on already owned land where individuals, Trusts or those perhaps newly inheriting land want to understand the options prior to a potential sale or under their obligations as Trustees.
A typical appraisal will include a review (as necessary) of:
- The existing site as it stands (including current use/buildings and the planning legality of that) and the planning history, if any, for the site as well as any relevant local planning history which could be a material consideration;
- Local Planning Policy. The starting point for planning applications is the Local Plan in accordance with S38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. In addition we will advise if there are any current or imminent Local Plan Reviews which could affect your proposals and the timings of any submissions;
- Any relevant material considerations (in so far as they relative to your proposals) including, but not limited to, national planning policy, supplementary planning documents and written ministerial statements;
- Any site constraints such as topography, access, trees, ecology (which could subsequently need further, specialist, survey work to be undertaken prior to submission of any planning applications);
- What is it you actually want to achieve and your objectives (if specified) and commentary as to the scale of that aspiration, relative to the above points. Potential scope of amendments or limitations, if required, to assist with achieving the relevant permissions;
- If acceptable in principle – the options for securing consent through routes such as permitted development, prior approval or full planning applications. What you would need for submission and potential timescales;
- If there are no options – an explanation as to why.
Our traffic light system, as you would expect, flags in red any sites or proposals which are unlikely to get permission or have significant issues and flags in green proposals which are acceptable in principle subject to the usual submission requirements.
Sites which are flagged amber are generally ones which either require further survey work, to ascertain if there is an impassable issue (for example, access/highways) or ones which could go either way based upon timings (for example, due to an emerging Local Plan or in some cases assessment of matters which are essentially subjective). If sites are amber in our view, it is our objective to give you sufficient information for you to ascertain risk and decide whether or not to proceed for reasons which will be set out in the report. We can, if needed, then discuss these with you further.
This element of work, as a standalone report, is available in line with our standard fee quote sheets which set out fees with options as to the speed you need your report. This means if something is urgent (for example, due to meeting a tender deadline) we can turn reports around within a week as a rapid survey or weekend/next working day if required. Fees are, of course, adjusted accordingly based upon the service you require and this has been popular with those on tighter deadlines by comparison to those who aren’t.
Don’t forget we do offer free, 15 minute, mini chats so you can speak to us on any initial matters (which may in fact answer your query!) prior to instructing any formal work so you can check in with us and make sure we are the right people to help you. Remember, if we do not feel we can help, we will tell you – we do not take on jobs to create fees and we actively only work on cases we feel we can assist and add value (and which we have capacity for).
If you have a project in mind which you think would benefit from either a mini-chat or a more formal appraisal, you can book in here or email us using the email address (neigh@) on the contact page.