No wonder, then, that there’s been such a surge in interest from people keen to get into small-scale development; the size of the opportunity that these new PDRs have just unleashed is unprecedented.
It’s worth pointing out that, while the change of use is likely to be the most contentious planning issue, you’re still going to need to apply for planning permission if you also want to change the appearance of your building, replace the roof, or add windows and doors. However, assuming you do this under guidance from your professional team, this is likely to be non-contentious once the PDR prior approval has been secured. So, my advice is to get up to speed with these new permitted development rights, as well as the older ones. Understand what you can achieve without having to get full planning permission to change the use of a building, and then take full advantage.
But before you do that, let me come on to my second piece of advice, this time courtesy of the late, great Bill Withers; we all need somebody to lean on. And when it comes to mastering the dark art of gaining planning approval, that somebody should be your friendly planning consultant.
As any good CEO will tell you, the secret to being brilliant lies in employing brilliant people. And, as a developer, the only time I want you to reach for a copy of the Town & Country Planning Act is when you’ve got a wonky coffee table. The reason for this is that there are people called planning consultants who have dedicated their professional careers to the art and science of navigating this country’s planning rules and who will therefore be much better at it than you will ever be. Better still, the more imaginative ones can often work minor miracles by weaving together various PDRs and precedents to create viable schemes. After all, every superpower needs a superhero to wield it, and PDRs are no exception.
As a developer, you’ll need to be familiar with planning rules at a high level, but it will be your planning consultant who will nail the details for you. Why is this so important? Well, in development, you’re always looking for an edge that can allow you to pay more for a property or piece of land than the competition. Let’s face it; if you’re the highest bidder, you’re going to have the best chance of securing the deal. And because residential nearly always commands a premium, if you’re able to combine the best use of PDRs with the ability to maximise the number of units you can fit into the plot, then you’re on to a winner.