News: There Goes The Neighbourhood!

Wed, 14 Nov 07

The Government’s pledge to build 3 million new homes by 2020 means that pressure on land will increase and it is therefore important that homeowners and buyers are aware of any potential local developments, which could have an impact on their property....

Recent research sponsored by Landmark* reveals that 92% of home owners consider it important to be aware of large planning applications in their local area. Yet standard Local Authority searches which are carried out as part of the home buying process are restricted to the property itself. In addition, almost two thirds (64%) of people think that it is important to be conscious of small planning applications in their neighbourhood.

The Plansearch and Plansearch Plus reports provide a wealth of information on planning applications, larger planning decisions, telecoms masts and footpaths within a wide radius of the property. The latter also contains invaluable neighbourhood information about local facilities, schools, crime rates and a breakdown of the areas housing and demographics.

Lack of awareness

James Sherwood-Rogers, Managing Director of Landmark Legal and Financial comments: “Too many homebuyers purchase a property without an awareness of the number of planning applications in the area. As a result, homebuyers could be buying in an area where a major development is proposed, or a phone mast is to be built."

Sherwood-Rogers continues; “There are so many factors to consider when purchasing a new property and most homebuyers focus on issues within the four walls of the building. The Plansearch Plus report offers owners and buyers peace of mind about the area they are moving to giving details of local facilities and average house prices, as well as education, mobile phone masts and a wealth of other useful information.

“Our research has told us that the overwhelming majority of homebuyers (89%)* feel that details of local crime rates are incredibly important in allowing them to make an informed decision about their purchase. This is why the Plansearch Plus report includes information regarding not only crime rates, but also, unique to Landmark, information on the numbers of theft insurance claims in that location.

“It is important that home buyers, and even property owners that re-mortgage, should insist that their lawyers provide a detailed report regarding the local area so that they don’t meet any nasty surprises later on.”

Example: Hopton Street, Southwark

Residents at Hopton Street, Southwark have learned the hard way that not looking into the planning context of a property can lead to problems. Apartments at this exclusive riverside building, close to Tate Modern are on the market for between £500,000 and £600,000. With stunning views of the River Thames, St Paul’s Cathedral and the City beyond, homes at this location are always in demand.

However, this ideal was shattered when plans for a 17 storey tower which would obscure those all important river views from properties in Hopton Street were submitted to Southwark Council, Despite the best efforts of the residents, including a recent high court challenge, planning permission has been granted for the Hopton Street Tower. As a result, homeowners have not only lost the enjoyment of the spectacular views, it is also estimated that apartments in the building have lost 20% of their value at a cost of around £100,000.

By commissioning a Plansearch Plus report on their home when buying the property owners could have avoided these problems, as large scale development such as the Hopton Street Tower would have shown up at an early stage.

For further information about obtaining a planning report in your local area, details can be found on http://www.landmarkinfo.co.uk

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