Countryside in Shropshire

Our Work

Resolving a breach of planning control

Planning permissions can be a tricky business - particularly if you don’t follow the rules clearly set out by local planning authorities. A breach of planning control can cause problems in the future, especially if you come to sell the property, or seek to carry out further alterations. Breaches can have happened accidentally, or may have been deliberate. In either case, it is something that must be addressed, and Forge Property Consultants can help you navigate your way to a successful outcome.

The most recent case of this type that we have worked on is the site of a former mine near the town of Halifax in West Yorkshire. The owner of the property and his family had outgrown the small cottage on the site, so he proceeded to convert one of the mine buildings into a dwelling in the early 1990s, without planning permission. All went smoothly, he moved in and has continued to live there ever since, with no enforcement action being taken by the local authority against him. However, when the owner sought to mortgage the property, he was unable to, as the house was not an authorised use - it was still classed as a mine.

A breach of planning control is defined as either carrying out work without the required permission, or failing to comply with the conditions on which the planning permission has been granted. In most cases, the development will become immune from any intervention or enforcement if no action has been taken within four years of ‘substantial completion’ of a breach consisting of operational development, within four years of an unauthorised change of use of a single dwelling house, or within 10 years in any other instances of breach of planning control.

Planning authorities can be quite strict when breaches of planning legislation are discovered, and they can follow a number of steps to enforce the law. These might include the use of stop notices and planning enforcement notices. Being in breach of planning can become a much more significant problem when the owner decides to sell or raise finance on the property, and it is imperative to resolve the matter at the earliest opportunity.

Forge Property Consultants has had several planning successes, using Certificates of Lawful Use - as in the case of the property owner in Halifax. Forge helped the owner gain a Certificate of Lawful Use, which allowed the owner to mortgage the property, without having to take any further action regarding the work he had carried out without applying for permission.

If you’re in doubt about planning permission, or need to look at a case retrospectively, then our property experts at Forge can guide you safely through the process.

There are two types of Certificate of Lawful Use.

  1. Article 83A Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Use or Development is used when an owner wishes to indicate that any changes that have been carried out are lawful - that is to say, that enforcement action cannot be taken against it. This can be due to the fact that it had (or did not need) planning permission, or that the use or operation took place so long ago that the time for any enforcement has expired.
  2. Article 83B Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development is where you confirm that what you proposed would be lawful, i.e. it would not require planning permission. It could be that the proposal does not constitute development, is classed as ‘permitted development’, or already has planning permission secured.

Maximising sales potential for prestige rural property

Sporting estate in Northumberland

The owners of an outstanding sporting estate in Northumberland approached us to ask for our help in selling the diverse property. In addition to a 19th century 14 bedroomed Grade II listed hall, complete with its own ballroom, and six cottages, the proposed sale included 250 acres of agricultural land and woodland as well as fishing rights on one of the best salmon rivers in England.

We had to find practical solutions to the numerous challenges to the marketing of such a diverse property. These included the reservation of certain rights by the owner, the presence of asbestos, sale of chattels and the fact that there were a number of interrelated transactions, which all needed to fall into place in the correct sequence.

We advised our client to divide the estate into lots to maximise the market appeal and eventual sale price. We also looked at potential development opportunities and the option of selling some land off as extensions to gardens. As part of the due diligence process we needed to rectify some planning issues and also iron out potential problems with historic changes that had been made to the hall, which meant that some aspects of the Grade II listing had been breached.

Ultimately, we sold the estate in ten separate transactions for £5.8 million, having secured vacant possession of the residential properties, as required by the eventual buyer. The demands of the whole complex, multi-faceted transaction were many and varied. The Forge team, with its range of different negotiating skills and areas of technical expertise, was ideally placed to rise to the challenge and meet and exceed the expectations of our client.

Valuation enables owner to convert barns to luxury homes

Farmland in Staffordshire

One of our farming clients in Staffordshire was looking to convert his three redundant agricultural barns and paddock into several luxury residential properties with land attached. In order to gain planning permission for the conversion he needed a formal RICS Red Book valuation, an area in which we specialise, with Forge surveyor Tom Mason being an RICS Registered Valuer.

Due to the highly bespoke nature of the barns’ development, our report needed to include consideration of the final sale value and development costs, as well as comparable site sales. We also made recommendations as to changes that could be made to aspects of vehicle access, layout, design and style of the dwellings to improve their marketability and attract a premium value when it came to selling them. This meant that our final report not only met our client’s immediate needs but resulted in a document that will continue to be useful throughout the ongoing development process.

Our client was impressed with the depth and content of the valuation and has already said he will be using our services again.

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