Legals & Planning
Once you have identified your plot you will need to carry out a feasibility study. This will include a site survey and a valuation assessment of the plot.
1 You will need to make sure that your solicitor has land and self-build plot purchase experience. A regular property lawyer may not be practiced in ensuring, for example, that the vendor has Single Premium Indemnity which will cover any problems regarding potential issues such as detailed boundary measurements and plot access.
2 The National Policy Framework is at the top of the Planning pyramid. This is administered and interpreted by your local authority; who will also have their own Local Plans, Strategic Housing Market Assessment and a variety of other related areas of concern. You will also need Building Regulations approval at the end of the project. As this is the case, it would be advisable to use experienced architects or build companies to help guide you through this process. It is sensible to do all the research you can but it is an area where it is advisable to seek expert and professional assistance.
3 If you are considering a plot without planning permission it is important to seek guidance from the local authority regarding the likelihood of planning permission being granted. There may be a duty officer in the Planning Department that you can talk to, but most Local Authorities now work with a paid for Pre-Planning advice system. You should also take every precaution against refusal. A solicitor will draw up a document with an Option Agreement subject to permission being granted. This is actually very common in property development.
4 Outline Planning Permission: This is the stage where the local authority has agreed to, for example, the erection of a four bedroom two storey dwelling.
5 Detailed Planning Permission: The architect’s plans are all set, with dimensions, building materials, and everything else the local authority will need to ensure that what is being built is what they have agreed to.
6 The planning process will generally work like this: i) The Local Authority will receive the planning application and check to ensure everything is correct. If any errors are spotted the application will be returned. ii) The application will then enter into the Statutory Register. At this stage a period of eight weeks will begin within which time the application will be considered. iii) The application will be allocated to a planning officer or committee for consideration. Single builds may not go to committee at your Local Authority, so you could be working with the interpretation of the regulations of a single human being. iv) A period of three weeks, possibly more, depending on the extent of the application, will then go for public consultation. Neighbours will be sent copies. v) When all responses are gathered up the Planning Officer will assess the proposal against the Local Authority planning policies. He or she will then make a decision or revert it to committee. vi) If there are any unacceptable aspects of your application it will be refused. vii) You will address the issues if possible and appeal the decision.
7 The Local Authority’s Building Control department will carry out regular inspections of the project as it progresses and the Building Control Officer will be in charge of this. Once he is satisfied that all work has been carried out in accordance with the agreements and they meet all requirements they will provide you with a Building Regulations Certificate of Completion.
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