Commercial Property Frequently Asked Questions

Can I develop my property or land?

The short answer is that it depends on a number of factors. Depending on the size and nature of your development, you may need to apply to the local authority for planning permission and you may also need approval from building control for the works you are carrying out.

Something that is often overlooked is that you may be prohibited from carrying out certain developments to your property because of certain provisions in the title deeds to your property (see question 3 below).

Before you begin any work, it is important to seek professional advice from a planning consultant and from a lawyer. If you develop your property and you do not have all of the relevant consents or authorisations, you are at risk of being made to restore your property to its original condition or even pull down any buildings that you have erected, with the possibility of also having to pay for the costs of enforcement against you.

Do I need to apply for consent to develop my property?

Almost all significant development requires the consent of the local authority and building control, although certain minor works can be exempt. The government’s “planning portal” website contains useful information as to when planning permission or building regulation approval is required. If you continue to have any doubts, it is recommended that you speak to a planning consultant or a lawyer.

Can my neighbours stop me from developing my property / I want to object to my neighbour’s proposed development – what do I do?

There are a number of ways in which a neighbour may seek to stop a property-owner from carrying out a proposed development.

The simplest way is for the neighbour to formally object to the proposed development via the local authority. When someone applies for planning permission, the local authority will place a notice on or near the property to that effect and will also write to certain individuals/bodies it thinks are likely to be affected by or interested in the development, including neighbours. The local authority will take these views into account when deciding whether or not to grant the permission you seek, although if you are seeking to object, it is important that the arguments are based on objective planning criteria, rather than any personal disagreements.

This is a technical area it is recommended that professional planning advice is sought to make sure your application or objection has the best chance of being successful.

Alternatively, the proposed development may be prohibited due to a provision contained in the property’s (or any neighbouring properties’) title deeds. For example, it is very common in residential developments for there to be a prohibition against any development which is not in relation to a single residential dwelling (for example, building another residential property or constructing something that is for business or commercial use).

It is important to note that these difficulties can arise even if planning permission has been granted, as the local authority does not consider title deeds when coming to its decision. It is therefore vital that legal advice is taken at an early stage to ensure that there is nothing that could potentially prohibit the proposed development.

If you want any further information regarding any of the above, call us on 01502 532300. Our solicitors have extensive experience in dealing with property development and we have close contacts with planning consultants who can also assist.