Planning Uses Simplified – An Agents View’

With activity increasing in the commercial world as a result of the rise in market confidence, the outlook for the future is bright. Over the past 12 months I have been incredibly busy making the most of this revival within Harris Lamb’s Agency Team where we have concluded record levels of transactions.

There is currently a real appetite from the market to conclude transactions and the majority of these companies are looking to satisfy their requirement within a very swift timescale, usually within a 4 to 6 week timescale.

With this occupier demand for speed  I have, however experienced what I feel is a failing in the current planning system. My complaint is the lack of simple clarity concerning the existing and potential planning use on buildings. In an era where so much information about buildings is readily available and strictly coded, Energy Performance Certificates being a good example, why is it so difficult to not improve the use classes order and make the confirmation of a buildings use more simplistic.

I appreciate in certain circumstances some of the required planning information can be available through online planning portals, however this is far from comprehensive. On numerous occasions recently I have been unable to confirm to a potential  occupier whether their proposed use is permitted within the planning use class order.  I am left with the situation where the potential occupier has to either submit an application costing valuable time and money or alternatively if time is critical they will end their interest in the subject property.

I would propose a system similar to that of the current rating system where a buildings rateable value is clearly defined and can be traced transparently over time. Adopting this system would remove some of the doubt occupiers and their advisors face and allow buildings to transact in the swiftest timescale possible which is to the benefit of all parties concerned.