Poll Results: Will the Autumn Statement have any impact on whether you offer planning info?

After the Chancellor George Osborne announced a boost to housing in his Autumn Statement 2015, tmgroup’s Nick Dyoss reports on whether or not the news will have any impact on conveyancers offering planning and development information to their clients.

In his Autumn Statement of 2015 the Chancellor announced a boost to housing including the release of enough Government-held land to build 160,000 new homes. At the same time the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis MP, is taking a new Bill through Parliament to free up and speed up the planning process. And then, on the 4th January 2016, the Prime Minister announced that the government is to step in and directly commission thousands of new affordable homes. All-in-all a pretty potent cocktail for a surge in planning submissions and neighbourhood change.

On the back of the Autumn Statement tmgroup asked customers in December, “After the Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to invest billions in new homes in the Autumn Statement, will this have any impact on whether you recommend planning and development information to your conveyancing clients?” The results are as follows:

Interestingly the percentage of solicitors recommending a planning search on the back on the Autumn Statement has increased by 50% to around 1 in 3. A significant jump.

But what of the majority?

I suspect that in the case of the 70%, many of the respondents do offer planning searches as an option in their client care letters and leave it up to the homebuyer to decide.

So is it enough to leave the option of a planning search up to the purchasers? Not an easy one to properly debate fully in this blog but I suspect that most homebuyers have no idea of the property-specific nature of the Seller’s Property Information Form (SPIF) or local search; after all it is ‘local’ isn’t it?

Many searches such as flood, coal and infrastructure now have alerts when a solicitor is ordering searches on a property so why not planning? Actually there is one available but unless the property in question is in a remote area you will get an alert in around 80-90% of cases, even if you limit the alert to a 50m radius, which may well desensitise conveyancers to the value of the alert.

Additionally in the summer we had the Thorp v Abbotts case where a claim that the sellers of the property had submitted fraudulent replies in the SPIF was found in favour of the seller. This was despite the fact that the seller was aware of a large scale development near the property but excluded this from the SPIF.

To complicate this picture further is that planning is a funny area in terms of how it affects people: For some the same planning application can either be positive, opening up new opportunities; or a negative, blighting their enjoyment of their property. Planning also has the ability to strike quickly and change a neighbourhood or property forever. In that regard it could be seen in a similar context to the speed at which flooding or ground instability can blight and change an area.

To help there are a wide range of searches available to suit both tastes and budgets and they are rapidly produced which gives the homebuyer and solicitor plenty of time to consider the contents and make further enquiries if necessary. tmgroup, in addition to the familiar planning reports from Groundsure and Landmark, offer a range of fully interpreted planning reports for residential and commercial transactions from PlanVal and DevAssess.

For more information on any of these planning reports or to organise an in-house planning CPD please contact us on 0844 249 9200 or email helpdesk@tmgroup.co.uk