The best laid plans… with Nick Dyoss

Over the last few weeks two notable planning cases have come to pass. In June, the case involving Orientfield Holdings Ltd. and Bird & Bird hit the headlines whilst, even more recently, the Thorp v Abbotts case also has significant implications for conveyancers, despite having not been subject to as much intense public scrutiny.

The crux of the latter case rested upon a claim that the sellers of the property had submitted fraudulent replies in the Seller’s Property Information Form (SPIF).

Shortly after the buyers (Thorp) moved in they became aware of a large-scale development in the area but, crucially, the sellers (Abbotts) were also aware of it too and had failed to mention it in the SPIF.

Some months later, the buyers commenced legal proceedings against the sellers for damages with regard to fraudulent misrepresentation.

However, the Court ruled in favour of the defendant.


Well, aside from the widely-held principle of caveat emptor (buyer beware), the Court considered that the terms ‘affecting’ and ‘communication’ from the SPIF should be given a ‘relatively confined’ interpretation in the favour of the seller.

To then further complicate the picture, in summary of the Orientfield Holdings Limited case, Judge Pelling QC ruled that:

“It is for the client to judge the impact of the material that may be relevant, not the solicitor.”

This summary would suggest that conveyancers need to make sure their clients have access to comprehensive information to make an informed purchasing decision.

Moreover, George Osbourne’s announcement of the new housing reforms on the 10th July 2015, in addition to the unveiling of a host of new planning reform measures designed to bolster the housebuilding process, could have further repercussions for conveyancers.

The new proposals allow automatic planning permission to be granted on many brownfield sites in England, with the knock-on effect that major projects in the housing industry could be fast tracked and rules on extensions in London relaxed. All of which points to a much busier environment outside of the limits of the information in the SPIF.

A simple solution which provides the information that a purchaser needs (but the seller does not have to supply) is a planning search. Easily available, not overly expensive and returned in a matter of hours for both residential and commercial transactions.

But these reports can sometimes run to one hundred pages in urban areas with a large amount of information which may be unfamiliar to the reader.

So how can the reader of the search, whether that is the buyer or conveyancer, quickly and easily identify the key issues within each report? Help is at hand. TM Group, in addition to the familiar planning reports from Groundsure and Landmark, offer a range of fully interpreted planning reports for residential and commercial transactions covering all budgets from Plan Val and Dev Assess.

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

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