Opinion

Rules of Navigation

So one of the common challenges within the Planning System revolves around the idea I call the three principles of navigation. This is where a developer loses sight of either the starting position, the current position or the end goal.

It is surprisingly easy for a new developer to fall into this trap. It is also very easy for a council to exploit this trap in order to prevent development. The three principles of navigation as I call them are there to prevent a developer falling into the principal trap.

Where have you been? The Starting Position: This describes what has happened to the property in its lifetime it may have a refusal on it, may have approvals, it may have had a variety of different uses between when it was built and today. When understanding the starting position a history check is vital as it may reveal features of the building that are not readily visible. It may also reveal constraints which are not obvious to the naked eye.

What is your current position?: This describes a building in its current state so what is that what does the building look like now how’s it being used and is it’s use well defined. Would the buildings use survive the Common Man test or Clapham Omnibus test? Knowing the existing situation is absolutely vital for understanding permitted development allowances for understanding development potential in relation to a local plan.

Where are you going to?: The end goal should always be clear in a developers mind and a developer should not allow themselves to be distracted away from the end goal. During the course of any development that will be many shiny pebbles that are thrown in front of the developer. Some people might offer SA or offer HMO or offer build-to-rent as a solution but if that is not in the developers original plan then a deviation should be very carefully considered.

Fundamentally however before you leave the safe Harbour of your day-to-day life just think for yourself how long is it going to take me to get there and how long am I going to have to wear the storm. Development always takes longer than you anticipate as in any voyage so if your maths does not work when you leave Harbour it is unlikely to still work when you get to your eventual destination.