What we do
Assess the site and make a plan
The whole process from our first research to helping you to sell your land, is complicated. 1,000 decisions have to be made and we have to get each one right. There are very few companies who work as we do because we carry the risk for you in every case.
Many land owners are acutely aware of the problems we face every day. However, this page is a “refresher” that gives you an update.
First, we visit your land and walk around the whole local area, making notes. We record everything. Hours later, “back at the Mill”, Andrew Taylor spends a couple of hours considering your land in the round. He takes the most important decision as to the chance of success and what that success might cost. That decision is never final until we have the grant of permission. We never have the comfort of knowing your application will succeed.
Assuming your land is worth further work, our tiny team works on research. The prime source of material is to update our information about the District Local Plan and any neighbourhood plan there may be. Over the next few weeks, we probably download over 100 documents and read or update ourselves on 5,000 pages. We constantly note problems and occasionally, a plus-point.
The key areas to assess are “policies” and the whole relationship between what the Council wants and what Government policy requires. Our aim is also to come up with a development proposal that satisfies as many of the diverse “interests” and consultee organisations as possible.
The possibilities are endless, but we start with:
- what the local planning authority wants;
- what local people say they most want;
- what does the Minister want from this Local Planning Authority (“LPA”) that they are failing to provide;
- what is missing from the local plan where we could help;
- what is the market for alternative housing proposals;
- what would achieve the highest value for you.
The sum of money that has to be put out by anyone making a planning application for new development is huge. Politicians and the mainstream media love to blame developers for the high cost of housing, but that is “fake news”. We have no axe to grind on behalf of volume builders, but they do not hoard land.
Local authorities accept vast schemes (in rural areas) because small developers cannot afford the costs of fighting special interests and complying with “gold plated” law from Brussels. Each of us has a passion about something relevant to house building or the wider development of land. Sadly, there is no pressure group representing ordinary people - mostly aged under 45, who cannot afford to buy a house.
To make that scenario even more difficult, is the fact that a development proposal can be stymied by just one of many special interest groups. They fall into two categories: groups of individuals on the one hand, and the powerful and extremely well funded protection charities and quangos, always supported by the mainstream media.
Here are a few examples of hurdles we might have to cross:
one rare bat or butterfly seen only 500m distant;
one six fingered blue crested, flying toad seen not far away;
a hint of shards of Celtic pottery nearby;
the proximity to an ancient battlefield;
a change in the view from a footpath of a listed church, 10,000 metres distant;
local people whose houses will no longer have a clear view of open fields;
a hint of contamination by, well, anything;
an increase in traffic on the adjacent road;
an increase in parking issues at the local school;
the doctor’s surgery is too far away (800 metres, usually) to reach on foot;
driving to the doctor is against green policy;
there is an old tree in the middle of the site that has just been “TPO’d” to prevent development;
the “setting” of an adjacent listed cottage will be spoiled;
and of course, the killer: the land is in the green belt, marked out in the 1950's to preserve food production in case of another war.
Finally, the unspoken but powerful issue that local people do not want an influx of socially inferior people who might have noisy children or want to join the tennis club.
(Before you judge us, please accept that we approve of many of the basic propositions on which the above hurdles are predicated. The problems arise because, over time, the degree of protection, restriction and control increases far beyond the original purpose and far out of proportion to the desperate need for more houses.)
Back to our work . . .
Our approach to the constraints we have listed above is varied. No-one likes to be shown to be a fool. So really stupid hurdles can be dismantled by a one-to-one discussion. Others can be satisfied, usually at considerable cost. The rest are matters of professional judgment by our own expensive experts - in court if necessary. The management time required to consider every hurdle placed before us is huge and the costs mount inexorably.
There are no short cuts.