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TOWN EXPANSION – WHAT IS NEEDED TO RETAIN COMMUNITIES

Additional HousingAdditional Housing

Of late, the current Government has implemented a building spree across the Country, and in short, the relevant District Councils have been instructed to provide additional housing to push the housing stock numbers up and to kick start the economy to try and build our way out of our current recession.

What are the effects of this?

This has two major effects; firstly the obvious, that the construction industry will move forward and generate work and economic stability, promoting industries to produce more goods and give the ability for the Country to start to move out of recession.  Secondly, is that swathes of building estates will sprout up across the Country which may be at the expense of communities.

community 2

Smaller developments such as housing numbers of 15 and below, would be of benefit to smaller towns and village   communities as they would bring families to the community who would use the local services such as shops, pubs, bus routes, schools, churches, village halls, and may in fact give these the ability to re-generate and move forward with the injection of the growth of the community.  In some cases the downside might be that larger settlements that have gained consent for 50 houses and above on the perimeters, will in fact just increase the size of the existing community, but as that community has limited resources to start with may drive the town towards a commuter settlement.

The Government have applied the Localism Bill of late and this is for communities to feed in at the bottom, giving guidance to any new development on how it can be integrated into the local economy.  A District Council would look to the Parish Council for their input to make a better settlement following consent.

Resources

Due care and consideration should be given to settlements for the increase of resources such as expansion to schools, expansion to Doctor’s Surgeries and Health Facilities and injection into the community buildings, such as village halls, town halls and libraries that would encourage new residents to integrate with the existing community, by providing the facilities that are adequate for the increase of housing numbers.community

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Hovel to House

Hovel to House

Following the new release of the additional General Permitted Development Order which came into force on the 6th April 2014, it is now possible to convert an agricultural building to a dwelling and also a shop to a dwelling. This is a big step forward from having to test the market for 6 months to see if there is any other need for the barn other than dwelling prior to putting in a full application to the District Council who would then take a larger criteria to make a decision on giving a consent for a conversion to a dwelling. With the new Development Order in place, you are now required to fill in a General Permitted Development Order and to provide a location plan so the District Council can make their decision.

 Converted property

Restrictions

There are of course restrictions that would prevent a notification being approved. These restrictions include that the building must have been in agricultural use or part of an established agricultural unit prior to the 20th March 2013, if the development would result in an external dimension of the building extending beyond the original dimensions of the building. If the site is an Article 1(5) land, which includes designated areas such as an area of outstanding natural beauty, conservation area, Listed or within the grounds of a Listed Building, on a site of special scientific interest, a safety hazard area, a military explosive storage area or site that contains a scheduled monument.

How big and how many barns can I convert?

The restrictions on numbers and sizes have also been put in place. You may only convert a barn that would result in no more than 450 sq m of floor space within the agricultural unit as a whole. The maximum number on one unit would be three dwellings, the accumulative floor area of these three dwellings, again must not exceed 450 sq m of floor area.

What rights might I lose?

Once a Consent has been granted for a conversion of an agricultural building to a dwelling under the new GPDO, you will not be able to apply for new agricultural buildings via the Agricultural Notification for a period of 10 years. Any application that is submitted within that 10 year period must be for a Full Planning Application.

What might I be expected to provide with my General Permitted Development Order

The District Council will take into consideration five specific areas whilst making their decision and may ask for additional information on these whilst the application is being processed. These being:

  • Transport and highway impact of the development.
  • Noise impact of the development.
  • Contamination risk on site.
  • Flood risk on site.
  • Whether the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to a use falling within the Class C3 Dwelling House of the Schedule to the Use Class Order.

Will the District Council require any further information once the General Permitted Development Order has been approved?

The District Council will condition any approval with specific details that would be required prior to work commencing on site and these will require discharge and will be known as Pre-commencement Conditions. These conditions could require further highways details, floor plans and elevations of the dwellings, Ecology Surveys, Tree Surveys to name but a few.

However, once a Permitted Development Order has been granted, these will only be hurdles that will require jumping prior to commencing on site, rather than hurdles that require jumping prior to the District Council making a decision.

Hurdles

From our understanding and the understanding of other governing bodies, it would appear that the Permitted Development Order is not restricted to traditional agricultural buildings but would include any agricultural building. Therefore, your Dutch barns and grain stores would be included in the permitted development.

For further enquiries or indeed assessments, please contact Sheldon Bosley for sound reliable guidance on your potential development.

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Becoming a New Landlord?

Property to Let

painterHow Do I prepare My Property for Letting?

This is a question asked by many new landlords when I first meet them. When planning a refurb, or merely preparing a property ready for the open market, it is difficult to find the right level to aim for.  How you present a property largely affects and influences the type of tenant that takes it.  If the property is scruffy or grubby you will normally find that the ‘fussy’ tenants discount it completely.  You will therefore end up with tenants that are not so fussy about their surroundings, which is not ideal.  You may have heard of the saying ‘scruffy property, scruffy tenants’.  On the other hand if a property is in good order, with up to date fittings and presented in a clean condition, then you will find it will appeal to the more fussy tenants.  These are the tenants you want as they will end up looking after your investment in a much better manner.  Tenants also do tend to stay longer if the property is comfortable to live in.

Don’t over-do your propertykitchen

Many landlords also make the mistake of over-doing their property.  It is key to make sure a refurb is planned in line with the type of property and with consideration to the typical group of potential tenants it would appeal to.  For example, a two bedroom maisonette in the centre of town is likely to appeal to a young couple or single occupant.  This does not need a high end finish. A mid range finish will suffice in this instance.  If you were renovating a large detached family home, the expected finish would be for a higher standard and specification and this would be appropriate to the market you would be aiming for, typically a professional couple with children. It is also important to ensure the fittings you install are of a good standard, as cheap fittings never last. You need something that is fit for purpose and will withstand wear and tear.

I see many landlords getting this wrong and we can help with any level of advice you may require, even down to managing the entire project for you.  For assistance please call Sue on 01608 665473 or Michael on 01789 206760.

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Advantages of Contract Administration (The Hidden Extras)

Contract Administration

Contract administration has always been an important part of any construction project but has been neglected over the years, and the recent economic decline has brought contract administration under project management to the forefront once again. In the past, small extensions may have been undertaken by local builders for the private client, for a word of mouth sum, of which as the project proceeded hidden extras appeared and the contract cost would inevitably end up 30 or 40% more than the original quotation. Now that we are in the current economic downturn, the general man on the street is more cautious when proceeding with building works and investing his hard earned money. Controlled contract administration on site, as detailed below, will help stop these hidden extras from occurring.

Following the selection of a competent Builder with a winning tender, the project will proceed and will be based on a contract specific to the construction industry, the more common of which is a JCT Contract.

The JCT Contract

JCT

The JCT Contract is a formal document that sets out the works that have been quoted for. This includes all of the specific detailing, the pricing, how the contract will be paid for at specific points, and that requests for payments from contractors will be valued by a professional, checked against the original tender and verified as acceptable before any payment is authorised. This in effect will stop the contractor taking money up front.

On each interim payment there will be an Interim Payment Certificate given, verifying that the payment can be made and stating a retention of that payment, that will be paid partly at the end of the project and partly six months following the end of the project to ensure there are not any defects that require to be put right. If these defects are not put right within that period, the remaining payment will be retained by the client.

Hidden Extras…………..

We all know about the inevitable list that appears at the end of the contract, that the contractor may surprise you with, which lists all the additional extras that were not quoted for, but have been done and the contractor now wants paying for. Sometimes these extras can add up to large sums of money which have not been budgeted for, that the client has not been made aware of and was unaware that they were going to be invoiced additionally for. If the work is being undertaken under a JCT contract this can be avoided as any additional works that are requested by the client or that are required by the contractor due to unforeseen circumstances must be firstly quoted for by the contractor, verified by the contract administrator, and signed off by the contract administrator and the client, as an acceptable quotation to undertake that additional works. If that additional works is not signed off, then it will not be paid for, and this will be at the expense of the contractor.

At the end of the project, the retention that has been taken from each payment will be partly paid back to the contractor for completing the project. We then enter into a six month period – the rectification period where if any of the contractor’s works is defective and requires to be finished, the contractor will be notified and requested to come and put the defect in good order. On the satisfaction of these works the remaining percentage of the retained money will be given to the contractor. If the contractor neglects the additional works, and does not rectify any defects in that period then the retained money will not be paid to him, and will be used to pay another contractor to put these in good order.Contract

When setting out on any construction project it is always advisable on any size of scheme to have a contract in place to protect you and the contractor in terms of payment and additional costs.

Don’t be caught out with the hidden extras.

 

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Achieving Sustainable Development

Achieving Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development

As the recent planning reforms have slowly been introduced and their effects are now becoming evident, the key buzzword seems to be the issue of sustainable development, and certainly this is the golden thread running through the policies contained within a National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  Much discussion has revolved around what actually is sustainable development.  The NPPF describes it as three separate dimensions; these being economic, social and environmental.

In relation to the economic role of sustainability, a development must contribute towards building a strong, responsive and competitive economy in order to support growth and innovation.

With regard to the social element of sustainability, a development should support strong, vibrant and healthy communities by providing housing to meet the needs of present and future generations.

With regard to environmental sustainability, any development should look to protect and enhance the natural, built and historic environment.

By looking at all three of these elements together, developments should be located close to local services where they can be supported by the local community, and support local growth where a supply of housing is required.

Housing

8,000 Dwellings Earmarked

Stratford District Council originally earmarked in their 2012 Draft Core Strategy for the allocation of 8,000 dwellings throughout the district; however, at the 1st April 2011, 2,400 of the 8,000 were already accounted for and therefore leaving a 5,600 quota to be filled.  560 of these dwellings were to be allocated in Stratford-upon-Avon, 1,680 dwellings were to be located in the Main Rural Centres; 2,240 dwellings were to be located in Local Service Villages; with the remaining 560 dwellings to be allocated within the smaller settlements which are the settlements that are not either Main Rural Centres or Local Service Villages.

WarwickshireLocal Service Villages

Local Service Villages are defined as villages which have key services and have reasonable access to public transport, these include:

Alderminster, Alveston Bearley, Bishops Itchington, Brailes (Upper and Lower), Claverdon, Clifford Chambers, Earlswood, Ettington, Fenny Compton, Gaydon, Great Alne, Halford, Hampton Lucy, Harbury, Ilmington, Lighthorne Heath, Long Compton, Long Itchington, Long Marston, Mappleborough Green, Moreton Morrell, Napton-on-the-Hill, Newbold-on-Stour, Northend, Oxhill, Pillerton Prior, Priors Marston, Quinton (Lower), Salford Priors, Snitterfield, Stockton, Tanworth-in-Arden, Tiddington, Tredington, Tysoe (Upper & Middle), Welford-on-Avon, Wilmcote and Wootton Wawen.

In order to develop in one of the Local Service Villages, sites should adhere to either of the following criteria.

  • It is a site allocated for development in Neighbourhood Plans or the DPD.
  • The re-use and redevelopment of land and properties within existing settlements.
  • Opportunities for regeneration within and adjacent to existing settlements.
  • Local choice schemes which meet housing needs identified by the local community.

Smaller Settlements

As there has been an allocation of 560 dwellings in smaller settlements of the district, you would be forgiven in thinking that infill development within a smaller settlement would be acceptable to help meet the 560 housing quota.  In reality, we have learnt from the District Council through a number of pre-application enquiries that when an infill site is put forward as a potential site for housing within a smaller settlement, the District Council often look unfavourably upon the proposals due to them deeming smaller settlements to be unsustainable in terms of the NPPF as they are not located near local services, transport links or shops.  Such proposals therefore need to be brought about through ‘local choice’ schemes where a housing need is identified by the local community.

Since the Stratford-on-Avon District Council published their Draft Core Strategy 2012, they have revised their housing quota to 9,500, yet this is still to be officially confirmed.  The division of this quota across the settlement hierarchy is also unclear and should hopefully be unveiled shortly.

It should be noted that many Parish Councils are in the throes of preparing their Neighbourhood Development Plan, which provides power to Parish Councils to set their own policies in relation to the type of development and where development is to be located within their settlements.  Once a Neighbourhood Development Plan has been adopted by the District Council, the policies within it will take precedence over the presumption of sustainable development; thereby bringing planning powers back to local areas.

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Planning – New Rules

Change of Use

A huge window of opportunity opens for owners of rural buildings and office with changes of use allowed on permitted development.

The new rules introduced by the Government are due to come into effect from 30th May 2013.  The main changes are as follows:

  • Offices (Use Class B1) may be changed to Dwellings
  • Agricultural Buildings under 500m2 can be changed to a variety of other uses including Shops, Restaurants, Business, Storage and even Hotels.

For both there are criteria for property owners to satisfy, not least, that the existing uses must have been well established.  Prior approval is needed from the Local Authority for transport and highways, land contamination and flood risk issues.

 Extensions

 An Extension to a dwelling is also permitted provided that it is:

  • Single Storey
  • Less than 4 metres high
  • Less than 8 metres long for detached houses (6m for others)

Neighbours and Local Authorities have to be notified.

For further information contact –

Sam Russell on 01608 661666 or email Srussell@sheldonbosley.co.uk