85% of urban properties at risk of development within 75m

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11 December 2012

  • More than four in five properties have unexploited development opportunities with 75m;
  • currently a backlog of 400,000 new homes that have planning permission but have not yet been built;
  • SearchFlow and DevAssist launch DevAssess, a report for homebuyers and solicitors to check the risk of current and future development around properties.

The UK housing shortage has left 85% of urban properties at risk of developments being built within 75m, as planning red-tape is cut and councils try to ease the pressure on the housing stock.

Housing Shortage
Only 98,020 new home developments were started in the twelve months to September 2012. This is 47% below the peak in March 2006 and is the lowest annual total since the year to March 2010. New house completions in the year to September 2012 were 34% below the peak level of 2007.

This growing pressure on the UK housing stock has led the government and local councils to move development to the top of the agenda. The proportion of approved planning permission applications reached a ten year high in 2011 leading to a current backlog of 400,000 new homes which are yet to be completed.

The clearance of this backlog is likely to be accelerated by the government’s announcement of a £661m cash payout to England’s 353 councils as a reward for delivering 142,000 new homes and bringing 13,000 long-term empty properties back into use. The allocation will be paid in the 2013/2014 financial year and paves the way for further growth in the proportion of planning applications being approved in the coming years.

DevAssist and SearchFlow Launch DevAssess
The increased likelihood of urban homes being at risk of new developments in their immediate vicinity has led to the launch of a new report from DevAssist. The report, DevAssess, which is available through SearchFlow, combines current planning information with professional opinion to provide homebuyers and solicitors with a comprehensive analysis regarding future development risks within a 75m radius of a property.

Richard Hinton, business development director of SearchFlow said: “Selecting and buying the right home can be a lengthy and costly process. Once a new home has been chosen it is becoming increasingly important that any potential changes within the surrounding area are reported before proceeding with the purchase.

“The impact of new planning proposals could be substantial. Views may be ruined, enjoyment of the property may be reduced, and the value of the property may also be affected either positively or negatively. This report will enhance due-diligence and allow buyers to make a more informed decision before they purchase.”

As well as identifying the potential for development, DevAssess also measures this potential and can predict of how many dwellings could be approved, so buyers can visualise what could be built.

The report explains the chance of any change actually occurring, what land use zoning affects the property and if there is hidden value or development potential. A bespoke analysis of the area is given, including any live or past planning applications that surround the property, together with advice and actions that should be considered as a result.

Changes to planning policy and the significance of understanding the risks or opportunities that developments pose to homebuyers is becoming increasingly important to solicitors and conveyancers.

Martin Edwards, planning barrister, 39 Essex Street, said: “Information is power. So why would any conveyancing solicitor not offer their client the chance to learn about what the future may hold for them in terms of any development threat or opportunity? After the government’s housing for growth policy statement announced on 6 September, it is clear that the acute housing shortage will lead to planning authorities looking more closely at all sites with development potential. Identifying those sites provides solicitors with the opportunity to add real value to the service they provide for their clients.”

The DevAssess report is available to solicitors through SearchFlow, who offer a wide range of conveyancing searches and reports across the residential and commercial property markets.

Paul Addison, managing director, DevAssist, said: “We are delighted to be working with SearchFlow to provide the highest level of service and add substantial value to their property search services. Many of their clients are a natural fit to DevAssist – successful, talented law firms whose conveyancing teams understand the importance of delivering the fullest due diligence.

This is what our DevAssess service is all about – providing essential insight on development risk and opportunity, over and above what is offered from a traditional planning search. The pressure to unlock housing land sites keeps growing and is accelerating, so we fully expect conveyancers to seek an opinion on development matters as part of their standard processes in the future.”

For more information on DevAssess or any of the reports available through SearchFlow, please visit www.searchflow.co.uk.

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