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What does land & development involve?

Ben Howard, Land & Development Manager at our sister company Perry Holt & Co, gives an insight behind the scenes of land & development. Ever wondered what is involved? Have a read of his latest blog to find out.

Before I started working in the property industry, I never really appreciated the money, time and effort that goes in to creating a new development of homes. Whether it’s a small development of two new semi-detached houses or a block of 50+ flats, the work and expertise needed to put these schemes together is truly astounding and something I don’t think is always appreciated.

When I sit down at my laptop trawling through various parcels which I may think have potential for development, it’s always in the back of my head that I could spend the whole afternoon doing this, to actually find no sites that work. Is that half a day wasted? Not at all. You have to look at every parcel of land on its own merits which takes time. For example each council has their own planning policy’s which vary from council to council. No two bits of land are the same so the surrounding factors can all be different, right to light issues, access issues, drainage issues, pylons and sub stations right next door and who has right of way over the land. That is just a snapshot of the initial hurdles faced before I can take it any further.

Due to these hurdles, it’s essential that you have access to confidential advice that you can rely on in the location or field of development, i.e commercial or residential, that you are looking at.  This will allow you to to discuss the site and develop a strategy for the best route forward. Fortunately for us we have a great pool of contacts for every development scenario to aid in delivering the best possible scheme.

Architects and planning consultants play a vital role in coordinating a planning application. Depending on the size of the scheme, a developer could have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds just on this initial element to ensure the planning application is policy compliant and ticks the necessary boxes for the council.

Sustainable developments are increasingly what councils like to see as the development will not be harmful to the environment and will utilise the best possible natural resources available, something I think it really important. More and more developments are getting submitted with eco-friendly benefits which will in the long term will be brilliant, but this is not cheap. You only need to look at the car manufacturer Tesla to see that environment friendly systems and technology come at a cost as until recently they have not had a profitable year despite strong revenues.

Once a proposed development has planning permission then the cost of discharging planning conditions starts, then the build itself and the marketing of the scheme to get the units sold. This is not to mention a S106 payment or CIL payment which the council can impose. These can range from £50,000 for a scheme of 4 units to £2,000,000 for a large scheme, with the payments designed to benefit the local area essentially.

All in all, development is not as highly profitable as some may think and a year to 5 years of work can go into a site and sometimes it still doesn’t work out.

Its not always appreciated and understood by many how much time, money and effort goes into putting a scheme together, from the land agent finding it the site initially to the last apartment sold. But having been involved in both Land and New Homes, I can safely say the world of land and development is highly impressive and it never fails to amaze me.

Ben Howard, Land & Development Manager