The importance of 'planning with a commercial edge'

In a recovering marketplace, we are still seeing a number of planned developments failing to make their way from consented plans on a page to bricks on the ground.

Savills planning team is often approached by landowners, developers, investors and architects for advice on the commerciality, viability and deliverability of projects. Recent successes demonstrate that delivering a planning consent that adds value to a proposed development is the key to a  successful project. Those that are well informed, commercially viable and implementable are worth their weight in gold to developers and investor alike.

It is crucial that planning application submissions and consents are informed by the developers’ delivery approach and method as well as the vagaries of the commercial market. If the intention is to build out a consent, it is crucial that the construction is completed within a timeframe that meets projected market demand. If the site is to be sold on, the consent needs to be flexible enough to meet the needs of as wide a range of purchasers as possible. 

Whichever option is required, knowing the current and forecast market trends is key to ensuring the actual consent reflects the initial project brief.

Developers will find that front-loading the planning application process (through submission of supporting technical information and detailed pre-application consultation) delivers a more streamlined process that will be beneficial in the long run. Advice from planners who have access to up-to-the minute local market intelligence will significantly enhance the chances of obtaining consent from the local authority, as well as maximise the value. 

The best consents are robust and flexible enough to meet market expectations and fluctuations. Such a consent will ultimately save clients time and costs while minimising the potential of having a consent delayed, being granted only on the proviso that more detailed information is provided, or even refused altogether. It is not best practice simply to achieve just any consent when there is a possibility that it will required to be altered and resubmitted in order to make it viable and more attractive to the market. This will delay the project, put it at risk and incur extra cost.

Savills structure encourages a joined-up approach between planning specialists and experts in our investment, residential and commercial agency teams. Clients benefit from close working with these wider project teams to ensure development proposals and planning consents sought are deliverable and commercially viable. One may call this a 'commercial reality check' for proposals being promoted. Planning with this sort of commercial edge is allowing our teams to bring a wide range of planning applications and consents to life, adding real value to projects in a property market which is beginning to get into its stride.

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