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Property Investment Consultants

We can work on an assured or non-assured basis to provide property investment consultancy services, vetting potential sites of interest and listing possible environmental problems that may affect your investment moving forward.

Executive Summary

Do not invest in property until you have thoroughly investigated all planning constraints and environmental constraints. If the site already has planning permission then thoroughly check conditions.  If you are unsure enter in to an options agreement with the landowner, but be sure to allow a few years to secure planning or discharge any remaining conditions.

Planning Constraints

Planning constraints of development sites is the one first thing that would-be investors consider, when vetting potential development sites. While it is common place to check whether a land parcel is situated within a "regeneration zone" or "a settlement boundary" or "an allocated site" it is quite common to over look Environmental Constraints that can complicate and in some cases preclude development of the site.

Environmental Constraints

Some of these Environmental Constraints we see quite often getting in the way of sites being developed and reaching their potential. Some of these constraints can be worked around, but some are akin to a brick wall.

It is important to note that these constraints can not only be included in planning but also within planning conditions, so if you are buying a site with planning conditions it is best to get some advice, on likelihood of discharging conditions first.

The Good

These environmental constraints are minor points on the whole that can be designed around:

The above two examples for the most part can be designed around.

Example: A block of flats being built next to a busy road. The road may produce noise, and lower air quality, but if these noise and air quality impacts are found to be unacceptable they can be adapted against; perhaps triple glazing for noise, and a filtration system of building air. In this way a site can be moved through planning, releasing value, making it a sound investment.

The Bad

Some environmental constraints are difficult to deal with, but given time (sometimes a great deal of time) and money they can be dealt with.

In these two examples, a way can be found forward but it can take months and cost a great deal. In the case of ecology the pressure on the planning process must be maintained, in order to prevent the missing of seasonal survey windows, which if missed require a 6 month wait or more for next seasonal window.

Example: A section of overgrown waste land is considered as a development opportunity. The site used to be a glue factory, but has been demolished and stood vacant for 10 years. Parts of the site are now overgrown, and the site perimeter has drainage ditches and hedges. This site could  require ecological surveys for newts, reptiles and bats. These are all seasonal work pieces, and so this could introduce a delay in starting development. The site will also require a contaminated land investigation, under a thorough Environmental Health Officer these can drag out to 8 months start to finish.

So in some instances planning can take over a year to complete, which is a another thing to consider.

The Ugly

These are brick wall type obstacles that can turn a property investment in to a liability:

The sequential test is a flood risk related report. It sits on the boundary between planning and environmental, and as such is often missed. That seeks to demonstrate if there are any lower risk areas else where that could serve as an alternate development site. This test is conducted regardless of ownership, you may have already bought the site, but that does not figure in the method on the sequential test. The local planning office might present a site within their administrative boundary and claim it as a suitable alternative, leaving your investment site un-developable.

Nutrient Neutrality is a relatively new topic, which can be detrimental for inner city sites. Inner city sites will need to rely on off-site offset solutions, and if there are none of these available (often the case) then the project is stuck in limbo.