How much should I expect to pay for a planning and change of use application?

Discussion in 'Development' started by Lee7, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. Lee7

    Lee7 New Member

    Hi everyone,

    I own (along with 2 co-owners) a site in Catford (South East London) which is currently commercial. We want to get planning permission to make the site residential, increasing its value, and then sell to a developer. So we'd like to engage a company to draw up plans and deal with the planning process. Having never dealt with a project like this I'd be grateful for any advice or comments - should we engage an architect, or a chartered town planner? What would the difference be in practice and are there any other options? Roughly how much should we expect to pay?

    The site's a slightly awkward shape, having a fairly narrow entrance from the street and widening to the rear, roughly forming a truncated triangle. The approximate dimensions are: entrance 6.4m, 2 sides 30.2m and 27.2m and rear 13.4m. On 2 sides are end-of-terrace houses and at the rear is a fairly new low-rise block of flats, on a site which was previously commercial. Several other commercial sites in the area have also been converted to residential fairly recently; there are now no other commmercial properties remaining in the immediate area. So we realise there'll be issues re: daylight etc, and that various surveys will be required - again any comments re: what these will be and how much we should expect to pay would be appreciated.

    Many thanks for your help!
  2. Nicholas Wallwork

    Nicholas Wallwork Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Premium Member

    Hi Lee!

    Welcome to the Forum firstly...

    I would suggest you speak to a local planning consultant familiar with the area in the first instance. They can advise on the viability from a planning point of view by researching local planning policies and suggest what schemes might be acceptable. You can then move onto drawing up the scheme with an architect. A lot of firms have preferred architects so you can ask for personal referrals which is often easier and you'll be more likely to get someone good.

    If you can PM me some floor plans I can also advise on the best way to maximise the scheme as I'm a developer myself and can give you some advice based on what kind of scheme a developer might want as the architects/planning consultants don't always come up with the most profitable schemes! So their advice also needs to be taken with a subjective view as well...
  3. Nicholas Wallwork

    Nicholas Wallwork Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Premium Member

    Hi Lee,

    Also at the time or writing planning consultant fees will range from £1,500+vat to £3-5,000+vat depending on the site of the organisation e.t.c. Architects will for a basic set of plans suitable for submission maybe £2-4,000 again depending on the firm size and size of the site (i.e. the amount of work required). You'll then have further fees on top of that after planning is (hopefully) approved as you'll need plans and M&E (mechanical and electrical) drawings detailed enough to put together a tender package for contractors...

    Hope that gives you some ball park numbers
  4. Lee7

    Lee7 New Member

    Hi Nicholas,

    Many thanks for your messages. Since my original post we've instructed architects to draw up plans and deal with the planning / change of use application. We've had a topo survey and basic draft plans done and they're currently getting further surveys done and drawing up more detailed plans, for a mews-style development of 3 quite large 2-bedroom units, each with some private outdoor space and off-street parking. The position of windows etc in surrounding buildings meant we couldn't go for any more units. The architects also brought in a planning consultant who they've worked with previously.

    Once the permission is granted we still intend to sell so I can contact you nearer that time if you're interested. Obviously we want to make the site / plans as attractive as possible to developers so if you've got any suggestions re: that then feel free to let me know. If you're still interested I can find the site plan later and send it to you.

    Best wishes
  5. Nicholas Wallwork

    Nicholas Wallwork Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Premium Member

    Hi Lee,

    Yes I'd love to see the plans and see if I can give you any early tips on improving it from a developer's/investor's perspective

    Nice to see a real life case study so please share what you can we'd love to follow your progress!

    Sent from my iPhone using Property Forum
  6. Lee7

    Lee7 New Member

    Hello Nicholas,
    I hope you're well. It's taken much longer than hoped (as I'm sure these things often do) but we've finally made some significant progress on our project. We agreed to use the architecture firm our co-owner wanted, and they in turn recommended a planning consultant they have a relationship with.

    We initially submitted a pre-application re: full planning but the council had concerns re: loss of employment. We've been keeping a log of enquiries as evidence that the site's no longer viable for commercial use, and in the meantime we submitted an application under permitted development rights / prior approval (our site fits the criteria for change of use from B1(c) to residential). First question - what's the difference in meaning between PD / Prior Approval? Our architects & planning consultants have used both terms at various times and haven't really explained the difference!

    Our PA application was granted on Friday so I'm hoping to have a meeting soon with both professionals and our co-owner to discuss next steps. As far as I can see we have 2 or 3 options, what do you think?

    1 - Sell now. The prior approval is re: change of use from 2 commercial structures, to 4 x 1 bedroom apartments within the same envelope. The plans are just outlines of where the apartments would be, there's no detail.

    2 - Submit a further (full planning) application re: the details of how the current structures would be converted into residential, then sell. The current structures are very dilapidated so I assume this would basically be knocking them down and building new structures within the same envelope - I assume this is allowed?!

    3 - Is it possible to now submit a full planning application from scratch instead? I.e. given the council can no longer prevent the site becoming residential, would they be willing to be pragmatic and allow the best use of the site rather than wasting half of it? Our original plans were for 3 much nicer, larger, 2 bedroom apartments and (due to overlooking constraints etc) would still leave a significant area of landscaping and 3 parking spaces. Would the council comment on this informally?

    Obviously the 3 options have pros and cons in terms of cost, time and the sale price. We're still not planning on building the project ourselves so whoever buys the site may want to change the plans anyway - as a developer is this what you'd do? We've been in contact with a commercial property agent and I can keep you updated if you're still interested.

    Any comments greatly appreciated!

    Kind regards
  7. Longterminvestor

    Longterminvestor Administrator

    I think this perfectly illustrates the potential delays when looking at planning applications and redeveloping existing sites. Many investors would have fallen by the wayside due to your seemingly constant battles with the council but you have persevered and hopefully you will be rewarded.

    The further down the development route you move, before selling the property/land, the greater the potential profit but the greater the potential risk. Would you make a significant return selling the land as described in option one?
  8. Lee7

    Lee7 New Member

    The absolute return would still be significant, but given we've owned the property for many years (waiting for the company who occupied it to vacate when the owners retired) I wouldn't be particularly happy with it. And I'd be very annoyed to sell now based on the current (prior approval) plans and then see someone else successfully apply to make full use of the whole site!
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018

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