There’s a lot to be said for developers building up their land banks. This is quite pertinent for the large national housebuilding firms that regularly bank land and are able to sit on these assets, forcing the price up and creating a trickle-down effect on the small or medium-sized developer struggling to find the appropriate spot for their building project. Much has also been said for trying to free up portions of greenbelt land that may be suitable for development purposes.
One of the well documented solutions to these problems, particularly in town centres and urban areas, is Permitted Development Rights, which has allowed many schemes to take place by converting traditional B1 office use properties to residential without the need for a full planning application. Just last week at Regentsmead we were able to introduce one of our well known builders to an inexperienced client who owns an office block that he wants to convert in Whitchurch, Oxfordshire. The advantage of this was that by introducing him to a developer who has had experience of converting buildings under PD rights the experienced party was able to redesign the project and make it much more appropriate for the existing building and the local property market.
Whilst PD has been successful in providing stock for developers and ultimately the housing market, we at Regentsmead have found that there has been some confusion over the details of PD. One of the reasons behind this is that there has been a variance in the way councils have interpreted the legislation, and therefore it may be enforced in different ways depending on where in the country the development project is happening. In the project just mentioned in Whitchurch the developer’s understanding is that by May 2016 when PD is due to end all units built under this legislation have to be occupied, otherwise they could technically be served with an order to convert the property back (there has been some suggestion that this may be extended).
PD has been a great step in creating new possibilities for developers and helping contribute towards getting Britain building again. In the coming week Regentsmead will be represented in a policy discussion with DCLG to discuss building more houses and access to finance and stock for developers. I have no doubt that PD will certainly crop up in the discussion and I’m sure time will tell the true extent of how successful this scheme has been.