- Legal Futures - https://www.legalfutures.co.uk -

Industry first as Search Acumen launches real-time planning data for property lawyers and their clients

Search AcumenSearch Acumen [1], the property data insight and technology provider, has upgraded its Commercial Real Estate platform – ForeSite, to provide the legal sector with real-time access to planning applications data for the first time.

The enhancement means solicitors and commercial property lawyers can now view live planning data as part of the due diligence process. This unprecedented insight acts as an early warning system to notify clients of potential risks before they commit to purchasing a property. It allows the lawyer to identify and act upon current and historic applications that might otherwise affect a client’s property, either while the transaction is in progress or in future once the purchase is complete.

Search Acumen’s [2] ForeSite platform now displays all planning applications available via Local Authorities websites, including approved, pending, denied and withdrawn applications.

Real-time access to this information in visual format can also support the planning process itself.  Planning Lawyers can use the tool to identify where approvals have been granted, look for patterns within a specific location, understand potential restrictions on local developments and assess what planning documents will be needed to support their own applications.

As well as reviewing the status of planning applications alongside a host of related property and land information, the CRE platform allows the data to be downloaded by legal assistants to be interrogated away from the platform by paralegals or fee earners.

The availability of planning data is customisable according to legal firms’ preferences, with users having the option to either enable or disable it from displaying as part of the due diligence process. Users can also define a specific search area around the property or land in question to identify nearby planning applications. To ensure maximum accuracy and avoid capturing irrelevant data, the search area matches the exact shape of the transacted title rather than relying on a default circular radius.

This upgrade follows the recent addition of wide-ranging new property and environmental datasets by Search Acumen to the platform, which is the UK’s first integrated due diligence tool for managing property transactions. The platform helps property lawyers make faster assessments of risk and act earlier on behalf of clients, by giving them instant access to data that would otherwise take weeks to source from multiple unconnected sources. It also enables a full portfolio of property searches to be managed in one place.

Andrew Lloyd, Managing Director at Search Acumen comments:

“We’re constantly thinking ahead to see how the hard graft and legal legwork that goes into acting on commercial property transactions can be made faster, more accurate and more insightful through better use of technology and access to data. We’ve worked closely with law firms to pinpoint where their pain points are and develop solutions to make the legal process better.

“The risks associated with nearby planning developments are many buyers’ worst nightmare, so we’ve removed the threat of unwanted surprises later on in the transaction process by giving legal professionals and developers all the relevant information up-front. With these planning insights at their fingertips, legal professionals can immediately act to take appropriate steps to mitigate risk and give their clients a complete and accurate picture of nearby factors that might affect their property investment.

“In today’s pro-planning political climate, the data can also equip developers to understand the application history of an area and act quicker to identify potential avenues for new building projects – making the planning process faster and more efficient.”