Getting out the ground

A new build development is one of those milestones that almost all property investors aspire to undertaking.  Those that do achieve this goal should be justly proud of themselves, as it is more than simply obtaining planning permission and sourcing a builder.

This month we are going to consider the work which could be required before you can get started on your new build development.

The first thing to consider with a site, is to work through the various planning conditions which may be attached to the planning consent. Depending on whether the site is in a conservation area you may have to obtain local authority approval for design elements such as windows, roof coverings, railings or bricks and often this approval is required before you start any works on site.

Additionally, you may be requested to obtain additional permissions which may include some or all of the following:

Ancient Monuments: If your proposal will impact an ancient monument then you will invariably need consent from Historic England before you proceed.  In addition the Secretary of State has imposed powers that local authorities be made aware of any operations affecting the ground in five historic cities which currently include Canterbury, Chester, Exeter, Hereford and York.

Archeological Inspection: Where an archeological dig is requested as part of your planning permission, you will need to source someone suitably qualified who can undertake the inspection and this may also require you hiring a digger to excavate the necessary trenches for inspection. You will then need to agree a safeguarding programme with your County Council before you can start on site. Bear in mind that if significant historic artifacts are identified on your site then additional excavation may be required which could seriously impact your proposed start dates.

Wildlife: You should be aware that Badgers and their burrows are protected in law. This makes it an offence to ill treat a badger. Licences to permit otherwise prohibited actions can be granted, however be mindful that the closure of burrows will only ever be considered during July to November. The presence of badgers may therefore severely delay your plans.

Bats, great crested newts, otters and doormice are also protected under the Conservation of Species Regulations and a licence will be required from Natural England if these species are on your site. Part of the licence application will involve the submission of an expert report undertaken by an ecological consultant. This process typically takes a month to complete.

Local Authorities have a statutory requirement to consider the ecological impact of developments and to promote improvements to biodiversity. Complying with these obligations can result in delays and additional costs to projects particularly where the ecological inspections have to be undertaken at certain times of the year.

Coal Authority Permissions: Those of you planning a build in some areas of the Country will need to give consideration to former coal mining works. Consent is required before any works are undertaken to stabilise past coal mining. Approvals generally take at least three weeks to obtain.

Listed Buildings: You should be aware that Listed Building Consent is required in the event that development is proposed within the grounds of a listed building. This process will take a minimum of 8 weeks and so early planning is essential.

Contaminated Land: For those sites which may have contaminated land such as former petrol station sites or uses which may have involved the storage of chlorine, hydrogen, oil, landfill or natural gas, you will need to provide a method statement for decontamination before construction works can commence. This will need to be approved by the local authority and this process could take several weeks.

Highways: If your development requires the stopping up or diversion of a highway then an application to the Secretary of State will need to be agreed before the works can commence. The process of making an order is likely to take around 3 months.

Party Walls: Even equipped with planning permission, you will need to comply with the Party Wall Etc. Act 1996. The Act will apply if you are proposing to build a new wall on the boundary line and will also apply to excavation works to form foundations or to lay drainage within 6 metres of the neighbour.

Once you have complied with all of the above you will then generally need to engage an engineer to design your foundations and provide appropriate details in order that your Building Regulations consent can be finalised.

Then and only then can you start on site!

Bear in mind that these additional elements are likely to increase the holding time of your site and this could impact the finance requirements and therefore the viability of a project.

Try and consider as many of the above aspects as you can prior and during the planning process in order that you can minimise the time between receiving your planning consent and starting on site.