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A development opportunity half done!

At some point in the dim and distant past, the idea your land may have development potential crept to the surface.

But how do you avoid some of the many pitfalls that can significantly impact on the value of your land?

Written by Bill Lightfoot

Congratulations, you did it. Your local authority
 has granted you planning permission for development.

It’s in your hand, signed. The corks are popping!

Hold on just a minute, because as well
 as you’ve done so far, you are now – to borrow a rugby expression – entering the red zone. What you do next will make a huge difference to the final outcome:
 the size of the cake you will be splitting with partners, siblings, children, promoters and others depends on finishing the job properly.

We were recently asked to take over a case that had planning for 70 houses.

It was simply unsaleable.

The plans were wrong: a sliver of vital access land was missing; the ecological report was out of date; archaeological report dismissed as rubbish; soil investigation was incomplete (and hinted at contamination); Japanese knotweed was giggling in the corner unchecked; and nobody had even looked into surface drainage.

All meaning there would be so many holes in the land appraisal spreadsheet of any self-respecting Land Director that the only offer they could make would be littered with contingency figures – every one of those figures coming off the land value, your cake!

The promoter had solely focused on getting planning permission. Putting
 aside the importance of contracting 
the right promoter in the first place, 
the preparation of land for market is absolutely vital to a successful end result.

By successful, I mean selling to the right buyer at the right price.

To do that you must limit the variables: pin the costs down and you will increase the land value accordingly.

We took a step back: engaged our planning team; re-did the fudged reports; prepared proper plans and 
a strategy to remove the Japanese knotweed; established what was in the ground (and what contamination); drew up drainage plans and got in the position to offer a well-presented site to market. We then achieved some very competitive bidding, securing a sale to a reputable house builder.

Our client was pleased and relieved.

To be fair, none of this requires a Mensa-standard IQ, but it does need experience, common sense and an understanding of the development world.

It also requires a client who is open to good advice.


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