We provide a complete planning service to a range of private and public sector clients.
We provide a complete planning service to a range of private and public sector clients including property owners, occupiers, developers, investors, institutions and local planning authorities in the residential, commercial, renewables, leisure and agricultural sectors.
Our advice is based on extensive knowledge of the ever-complex and fast-changing UK planning system. This enables us to provide bespoke and cost-effective advice at all stages of development from project inception, spatial master planning to negotiating final project delivery.
We pride ourselves on always offering one principal point of contact which means our advice is always consistent and provided in a timely manner. It also means that each member of our team embraces responsibility. Our collaborative way of working with other technical specialists means we are experts at finding solutions to assist in unlocking latent value.
Planning Strategy Formulation
We are adept at devising planning strategies that aim to facilitate our client’s objectives and deliver their development projects because we remain abreast of market, policy, legislative and case law developments.
We are also able to offer advice on what planning policies take precedence by having detailed knowledge of current and emerging Development Plan policies as well as national planning policy. Our appreciation of the importance of local politics means we are able to develop strategies to successfully navigate the planning and political arenas.
Every case is different as client’s objectives vary, as do economic, social and environmental characteristics of an area, individual features on potential development sites, neighbouring land uses, planning histories, policy frameworks and levels of objectively assessed housing need. Our aim is to secure client’s approval as efficiently as possible.
- Planning Application Strategy – if there is a supportive policy framework at present or development potential in the short-term with support from material considerations. This may be a one off action or take a phased and collaborative approach.
- Evidence Gathering Strategy – alternatively we may suggest this so that a Certificate of Lawfulness application can be prepared and submitted.
- Planning Appeal Strategy – this might be devised if the existing policy framework is not favourable to a client’s objectives.
- Policy Representations Strategy - if client’s objectives are not time constrained and they have a long-term interest in a building, or a parcel of land, this approach may be advocated and a bespoke strategy devised.
- Land Promotion Strategy – alternatively this may focus on promoting the development, or redevelopment of a site. So making representations on a number of Development Plan Documents (DPD), Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD) and other policy documents.
- Community & Stakeholder Engagement Strategy – this may be devised in assisting clients with despoiled or visually discordant urban and rural sites if there is an opportunity to develop and sell a vision for these to LPAs, Town and Parish Councils, neighbourhood forums and local communities.
Planning Appraisals are often the starting point of many projects to establish the key planning issues. These appraisals can vary in detail depending on client’s requirements. Our service will be tailored to the client’s needs and include but are not limited to:
• Initial view on viability to confirm if there is a possibility, or not, of obtaining planning permission;
• Desk-based consideration of planning policy to establish development potential and short report indicating green, amber or red site;
• Identification of key planning policies relevant to a site or proposal;
• Review of planning history to establish lawful use;
• Single site appraisal to identify planning opportunities and constraints;
• Portfolio/Estate/Landholding appraisal to identify development opportunities;
• Overview appraisal to identify key issues; and,
• Comprehensive appraisal covering all planning considerations.
Planning Applications and Appeals
We are well versed in a wide range of statutory submissions to Local Planning Authorities and to the Planning Inspectorate, and regularly manage project teams to secure the necessary approvals.
We provide the following services for applications for Planning permission, reserved matters, listed building consent, advertisement consent, conservation area consent, prior approval, non-material amendments, minor material amendments, discharging of conditions and certificates of lawfulness:
- Identification of design, policy and procedural issues;
- Scope of applications and advice on content of development proposals;
- Manage the application process – timescales and delivery;
- Coordinate the entire application process – taking the lead on the strategy, defining the requirements in terms of consultants, editing their draft reports and plans and submission of application;
- Community & stakeholder engagement;
- Environmental impact assessment screening, scoping & reporting;
- Preparation of application reports – including supporting planning statements, design & access statements, heritage statements, environmental statements (ES), Green Belt justification statements, sequential assessments, statements of community involvement and section 106 heads of terms;
- Monitor application, respond to comments from statutory consultees and third parties and resolve any potential objections;
- Negotiate details and potential design changes with local planning authorities and statutory consultees;
- Review suitability of draft planning conditions;
- Assess Section 106 obligation drafting; and,
- Attend planning committee, if necessary, and present case in support of proposed development.
We also provide the following services related to our planning application capabilities:
- Variation of conditions – establish the likelihood of getting a condition varied and coordinate the preparation, submission and negotiation of applications;
- Removal of conditions – establish the likelihood of getting a condition removed and coordinate the preparation, submission and negotiation of applications;
- Advice in relation to the lawfulness of existing or proposed land uses; and,
- Advice in relation to threatened or issued enforcement.
We have extensive understanding of appeal procedures so are able to lodge appeals against refusals of planning permission, or non determination, and present cases by written representation, public hearing or public inquiry. We are able to prepare and coordinate robust appeal documents, including:
- Statements of Case;
- Proofs of Evidence; and,
- Statements of Common Ground.
Community and Stakeholder Engagement
Constructive engagement with local communities, other stakeholders and the local planning authority reduces risk and increases the chance of success. We therefore use a wide range of community engagement techniques, either working on our own or in collaboration with public relations companies, to generate ideas and build consensus around tailored solutions to development.
Engagement Services include:
- Preparing notification and invitation letters;
- Devising questionnaires;
- Undertaking presentations at public meetings;
- Arranging and attending exhibitions;
- Acting as facilitators at design workshops; and,
- Drafting Statements of Community Involvement.
Environmental Impact Assessment
The aim of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is to protect the environment by ensuring that a local planning authority when deciding whether to grant planning permission for a development, which is likely to have significant effects on the environment, does so in full knowledge of the likely significant effects, and takes them into account in the decision making process.
In general projects are likely to require an EIA if they are above a certain size (determined by the EIA Regulations) or if they are likely to have a significant effect. An EIA is a process leading to a formal Environmental Statement (ES) which is submitted as part of a planning application.
EIA services include:
- Obtaining a screening opinion – does a project need an EIA or not;
- Obtaining a scoping opinion – if it needs one what should be included;
- Managing the EIA process – timescales and delivery;
- Coordinating the full EIA process – taking the lead on the strategy, defining the requirements in terms of consultants and editing their draft ES chapters;
- Appointing specialist teams – identify team requirements, request fee proposals, review quotations and make recommendations to clients;
- Preparing Individual ES Chapters – socio-economic and alternative options chapters; and,
- Advising on mitigation measures and deliverability.
Planning Obligation Negotiation
Planning legislation allows Local Planning Authorities (LPA) to consider whether otherwise unacceptable development could be made acceptable through the use of conditions or planning obligations. Planning obligations should only be used where it is not possible to address unacceptable impacts through a planning condition.
Planning obligations should only be sought where they meet all of the following tests:
- Necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms;
- Directly related to development; and,
- Fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development.
Planning obligations typically relate to matters such as:
Affordable housing requirements;
- Requirement for contributions to education and schooling costs;
- Requirement for contributions to healthcare provision;
- Provision of public open space and children’s play equipment; and,
- Provision of public buildings e.g. a new library.
Many LPAs are now introducing the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which is a payment made on a price per square metre of new development (there are exemptions). The CIL will cover some of the payments which may previously have been the subject of planning obligations yet the amounts vary between different types of development and across LPA boundaries. Thus the CIL payable in one district will differ to that payable in a different local authority area. Affordable housing obligations will still apply alongside CIL.
The contribution demands from LPAs can be considerable. Furthermore the policies and guidance on which a Council may rely when requesting planning obligations are complex and expert advice should always be sought so as to minimise the impact. Failure to do this can have a significant effect on land value. We undertake the following:
- Establish the likely planning obligations prior to any application submission;
- Advise on the status of the LPA’s community infrastructure levy;
- Consider potential planning conditions prior to submission to ease the determination process by addressing issues “up-front”;
- Review relevant local planning policies and supplementary planning documents to establish whether potential obligations are consistent with national policy;
- Prepare section 106 heads of terms;
- Assess whether draft planning obligations meet “the tests” and reflects the viability of a scheme proposal;
- Work with solicitors to ensure the correct wording, timing and extent of obligations are included; and,
- Negotiate reductions in the obligations package if one or more of “the tests” is not met, or if it would render a scheme unviable.
It is more important than ever for land and property owners and developers to get involved in the plan making process if they are to develop robust investment strategies, to protect their long term interests, and to maximise asset values.
We act for a wide range of clients to secure beneficial land allocations in development plan documents, and also to attempt to influence policy to a client’s medium and longer term advantage.
Before a development plan document is adopted by a local planning authority they are the subject of an examination by an independent planning inspector whose role is to assess whether the plan has been prepared in accordance with the Duty to Cooperate, legal and procedural requirements, and whether it is sound.
Our land promotion services include:
- Advice on whether a development plan has been positively prepared, it is justified, effective and consistent with national policy;
- Site specific representations to emerging development plans which promote the merits of client’s land;
- Representations to other planning policy documents that seek to ensure spatial strategies are favourable towards development on client’s land;
- Representations to Sustainability Appraisals (SA) to ensure assessments of the social, economic and environmental effects of a development plan document are robust;
- Coordination of conceptual masterplans or indicative land use frameworks to establish development parameters on individual sites;
- Preparation of development briefs or advocacy documents to promote schemes and engage in consultation with local authorities, statutory consultees and the public;
- Examination statements - preparation of written evidence; and,
- Examination attendance - provision of verbal evidence at examination hearing sessions.
We can quickly grasp client’s current operational requirements and business needs and are well versed in explaining, in plain English, how client’s activities are compatible with local authority objectives and how they, as well as the industries in which they operate, benefit local communities. Conversely, we are able to recognise how planning policies can be changed to protect clients’ interests, assist their objectives and ensure their operations are not compromised.
We therefore prepare and submit representations to a range of planning policy documents from Local Plans, Core Strategies, Site Allocations, Area Actions Plans, Development Management Policies, Planning Briefs for individual sites, Conservation Area Appraisals, Supplementary Planning Documents to Evidence Base Documents.
Policy Representations services include:
- Preparation and submission of representations seeking to influence policy making for our clients’ benefit;
- Examination statements - preparation of written evidence;
- Examination attendance - provision of verbal evidence at examination hearing sessions; and,
- Monitoring services – monitoring emerging policy documents to identify development opportunities and advise on policy implications for landowners.
We are experienced at monitoring emerging policy documents to identify development opportunities and advise on policy implications for landowners.
We establish the status of planning documents and receive updates from local authorities so we can identify opportunities to make representations at the optimum time. This service can also involve reviewing council’s monthly committee papers and minutes of meetings to ascertain how issues have been deliberated and why policy changes are forthcoming.
Our monitoring services are often crucial for long-term strategic projects.
If there is a need to promote or protect clients’ interests, we can then prepare and submit site specific or policy related representations.
Master Planning and Development Briefs
Sanderson Weatherall’s Planning Department is experienced in working within multi-disciplinary teams in master planning sites and preparing development briefs. This can relate to sites that are being promoted through the plan-making process or sites that are already earmarked for development by either allocation or planning permission. This work is therefore done on behalf of both private sector clients and local planning authorities.
Planning and Development Services include:
- Coordinating the work of other technical specialists – defining the requirements in terms of consultants, editing any technical assessments undertaken to inform the proposals and communicating the constraints and opportunities to the entire design team; • Identification of key planning policies to inform development concepts and parameters;
- Evaluation of relevant design guidance against national policy to inform the design team;
- Identification of key master plan parameters such as local authority open space standards, car parking requirements and education authority pupil product ratios and the like;
- Arranging design workshops and acting as facilitators at such events; and
- Undertaking presentations at public meetings including briefings to Parish, District and County councillors.
The Planning department is flexible such it can also provide in-house design advice, if required, through Sanderson Weatherall’s Architecture Department. Alternatively we are experienced in working with external architects, master planners and urban designers in developing both conceptual visions and detailed design responses.
Planning permissions and related consents generally add value to property assets however they can be complex with restrictions imposed by way of obligations within approved section 106 agreements or conditions. A site or development project’s specific planning position is therefore not always clear.
Both the Use Classes Order and the General Permitted Development Order are continually being amended such that the land use changes and parameters of developments, which can be pursued without the need to make a formal application, are rarely set in stone for a significant period of time. As such, it can be difficult to establish what options outside of the planning application process are available to add value to a property asset.
Due Diligence Services include:
- Confirmation of the lawful planning use;
- Identification of the position in respect of the discharge of planning conditions / obligations;
- Preparation of reports on the validity of developments by comparing as built plans with approved details and conditions;
- Establish how planning policies have changed since permission was issued;
- Identification of any permitted development rights, including any changes of use, that apply to a particular property; and,
- Advise on whether extant permissions can be modified.
Our outputs vary depending on who and why our due diligence services are sought. For instance, we may provide a succinct explanation of planning position in a marketing report to accompany sales particulars. Alternatively one or more of the above services could be reported in detail, such as if we are acting for a landowner who require a Detailed Planning Position Statement to inform potential investors.
Our due diligence services are therefore useful to a wide range of clients from landowners, lenders including banks and other funding institutions, receivers, administrators, potential purchasers to other professional service providers including solicitors and estate agents.