Building a house in my garden | Garden Grabbing

Some homeowners are sitting on a small fortune in the shape of a potential building plot (or even plots) in their gardens, often without realising it. And sometimes the ‘small fortune’ can be a life changing amount of money.

Not everyone would want to build in their garden of course and there are sometimes neighbours to consider. However, often the garden land is not really needed any longer, maybe even a burden. Getting planning permission is a ‘win win’ outcome for both the original householder and the owners of a new home.

On building in a garden, Ross Clark writing in The Telegraph recently wrote:

”Cashing in on high property prices without actually moving has become an increasingly popular option, particularly for the newly-retired, who have tired of gardening but remain attached to their home.
It is possible to access capital in your house via a home income plan. But, having paid off the mortgage, the thought of mortgaging the house again makes many people shudder. So much the better, then, if there is a pension plan sitting beneath your rhubarb patch.
Fortunes have been made in selling back gardens to developers. One lucky homeowner in Banstead, Surrey, has just discovered that his three-acre garden is worth £1.2 million as a building plot for three new houses – more than the value of his house, garden and everything else put together without planning permission. His house itself will drop in value from £900,000 to £700,000.”

However it is vital to get planning permission first, before selling the plot if you are to achieve the maximum profit from your asset’s sale. The problem can simply be getting the right professional advice and help from someone who knows what they are talking about without being ‘ripped off’. Also you may rightly be worried about unforeseen consequences; we can help with that too.

What type of professional help should I get? An estate agent, an architect, a surveyor or a planning consultant?

All of these professions may be able to help, but the most relevant is a chartered town planner consultant. The reason being that it’s another town planner at the council who will be dealing with the case, therefore the most relevant professional to handle your application is someone who is also a planner. In fact, our planners are all currently (or have recently been) council planning officers from other areas. They therefore are uniquely placed to know how the system works.

What are the issues with Garden Grabbing?

Our planners are able to give very helpful advice on that too. For example it may well be a good idea to retain ownership of the access whilst granting an ‘easement’ to allow access to the new house. This way you can avoid the danger of further new properties built on neighbouring land using what was your garden as an access. Also there is the danger that although you obtain permission for one new dwelling, a clever subsequent owner obtains planning permission for a far larger development to your disadvantage. This can be avoided by selling the plot but with a restrictive covenant which legally prevents such action.

Contact Us To Talk Through The Opportunity Of Building In Your Garden.

This is what a very grateful client recently wrote after we had obtained planning permission for a building plot in his garden:

“I just wanted to say how delighted I have been with your service from start to finish. Gaining this planning permission has enabled my family to raise the funds to secure a life long dream of moving to the countryside. Many thanks.”

Here are a few of the more hard cases we have won for clients who wanted to get planning permission for a building plot in their garden:

CASE STUDY – Leicestershire – New house in village conservation area
Our clients were having a lot of problems in persuading the Council to allow the proposed new house due to the fact that the plot was in a village Conservation Area and the Council considered that the new house would be detrimental to the character of the Conservation Area as well as to some nearby listed buildings. For these reasons they turned to us for help.

Our planner dealing with the case was himself a very experienced Chartered Town Planner from another Council well away from the area. He realised that all of the Council’s concerned were capable of being resloved on strictly planning policy grounds. He therefore submitted an application for our clients together with a carefully constructed supporting statement which addressed all of the issues. The result was that permission was eventually achieved and the project is now well underway. Once the permission was granted our clients gained a very valuable asset which previously had just been a piece of garden.

CASE STUDY – Kent, several houses on garden land despite government’s new PPS 3 rules
Undoubtedly there have been cases of planning permission being granted for new homes in the gardens of large houses which has been insensitive and deserving the description ‘garden grabbing’.
Consequently there has been a lot of recent media publicity about the coalition Government’s new planning rules for garden land and housing density requirements. Unfortunately some of the publicity has been very misleading giving the impression that there is now a total ban on building new houses in gardens.

In this case the local Council resited our clients’ proposals a new residential housing development which had also attracted some local opposition from other residents. The site for the proposed houses was within an area of residential garden within the cutilage of a large house with a substantial garden. The Council’s opinion was that the new houses would be an overdevelopment of the site at odds with the character of the locality and they also had concerns about the access to the site.
For these reasons our clients turned to us for help. Our planner dealing with the case was himself a very experienced Chartered Town Planner from another Council well away from the area. Having studied the situation, he realised that all of the Council’s oposition to the proposed new development and their interpretation of the Government’s new rules (PPS3) was capable of being addressed. He also was concerned that a key element was that the houses would need to be particularly well designed houses.

He therefore submitted an application for our clients together with a carefully constructed supporting statement which addressed all of the issues. He pointed out that there was actually a wide range of types of dwellings and architectural styles on plots of varying styles in the area. Separation distances also differed substantially between the properties and contrary to the Council’s view the street scene was not characterized by undeveloped land. He also pointed out that the design of the proposed houses was actually of a very good quality and that the site currently contributed little to the value of the townscape being almost completely screened by fencing and hedging.

The result was that permission was achieved and the project is now complete.

CASE STUDY -Cambridgeshire. New potton style house, impact on village conservation area
Our clients were receiving opposition from their local Council to their plans to build a new Potton style timer framed house on a plot in their garden in a very attractive Cambridgeshire village. The Council’s concerns were based on the scale, design and position of the proposed dwelling and its impact on the village’s Conservation Area. They considered that the proposal was ‘ill considered’ and ‘discordant’ with the street scene and the character of the Conservation Area. However our planner dealing with the case was himself a very experienced Chartered Town Planner from another Council well away from the area.
Although he did recognise that the proposed house would be quite a tight fit, he still considered that all of the Council’s concerned were capable of being addressed on strictly planning policy grounds. He therefore submitted a planning application for our clients together with a carefully constructed supporting statement which addressed all of the issues.
The result was that permission was achieved and the project is now completed.
We understand that the clients have chosen to live in the new house and sell their original home.

CASE STUDY – Replacement house option, an example near Beaconsfield
Another option is to demolish an existinbg house and build a far better replacement on the site. But whatever you do, do NOT demolish the first house before you have secured planning permission for the new house otherwise you may find yourself with just a piece of land that will never get planning permission for anything!
We recently achieved planning permission for a more substantail new house to replace a client’s previous home. The case was handled by one of our planners who was herself a very experienced Chartered Town Planner from another Council well away from the area.

Although the original house was fairly large our clients had particular requirements which previously they had tried to achieve by means of a large extension. However Chiltern District Council had refused two planning applications for the extension and the case was also lost on appeal, the basic reason for this being that the Council’s relevant policy was quite prescriptive meaning that the outcome which our clients wanted was just not possible by means of an extension.

However we advised our clients that the solution could be to submit an application to the Council for the demolition of the original house and the redevelopment of the site with a completely new house incorporating all the features which they were trying to achieve.
Our clients accepted our advice. We then worked closely with them in order to produce the design and architectural drawings for a new two storey detached 5 bedroom house with accommodation in the roof space which incorporated all the features which they had not been able to achieve previously.

Our full application to the Council included these architectural drawings as well as a crucial supporting planning statement written by one of our expert chartered town planners setting out in detail the policy arguments as to why the new dwelling should be allowed. Consequently the Council was satisfied that the new house did fulfil the required policy criteria and so the application was granted.