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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3497
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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When buying a new home who would be responsible

Customer Question

Hi, when buying a new home who would be responsible for finding out if the property being purchased has any planning consent by the council (me, conveyancer, mortgage surveyor?) The reason I ask is that I have just completed on a new home in august 2015 and I have just found out that the green field adjacent to us is part of the councils local plan. I know it is hard to stop these things and my approach will always be to get the best possible outcome when they go for planning consent, however it would be good to understand how I could have known about this in advance. In addition the developer advertised the development as 'field views' the housing map indicated it was countryside and when the developer was asked about future development they stated there was no current plans other than the brownfield site. With this on the local plan for at least the last 18 months I am sure there was awareness and that their development plan also makes way for access roads in readiness it just feels a little ingenuous and I wonder if I have anything here to help me influence the future as clearly the house price will loose value when a beautiful field that the house looks out onto is transformed into houses or commercial buildings? I hope this makes sense. thanks
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
Thank you for your question and welcome.
My name is ***** ***** I will assist you.
When the developer filled out the property questionnaire were they asked if there were any planning applications that may affect the property?
This type of information should come up in the property searches done by the solicitor, unless you directly asked the question to the developer and they mis represent the situation.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi AJ,This is related to consent by the council in the local plan, the land is still owned by the farmer at this present time.My solicitor has confirmed that the searches were for the plot construction only not for any adjoining consents, they stated last night that they don't do searches for adjoining land. In the documentation provided the developer did outline to the solicitor that there are many consents in place if they searched. I have an expectation a solicitor should have confirmed adjoining planning consent due to the potential impact.With regards ***** ***** developer (sales team) they were asked verbally by me during the purchase process if there were any plans to build on the green field that the property looks out on to, they stated 'no, though can never say never', however the site plans in hindsight do actually show pre prepared access routes still owned by the developer not residents, so I firmly believe they are aware/involved. Coupled with the fact that the development is called 'field views' I feel they have been ingenuous knowing their future plans and have painted un untruthful picture to enhance the attractiveness of the development.ThanksLeigh
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Apologies, I was meant to say disingenuous in the final paragraph.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
I would normally expect something in the Local Authority search to highlight this - a local authority search should show:
- Are roads and footpaths adjoining the property publicly maintained?
- Are plans for any major and/or minor road schemes affecting the property.
- A list of planning decisions affecting the property.
- Is the property is on contaminated land.
- Is the property situated in a conservation area.
- a list of building regulations affecting the property.
- Details of any enforcement notices for violation of planning permissions against the property.
I would ask the solicitor to give you a copy of the Local Authority search he did on the property.
In relation to the developer - to make a claim that you very mis represented you would need to prove your losses. Do you know how much the value of your property will reduce by if this build goes ahead?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi,I will understand impact on house from valuations this Thursday.With regard to solicitor this is their response below. The disappointing thing is that Policy Villages 5 in the local plan (page 6 attached) does actually outline the exact greenfield site we are now aware of (when you look at the detail) though this was not pulled through in the version of the search.Solicitor response:
With local searches they do not specifically reveal planning permissions for adjoining land - the search is for the plot search - the local search on Forge Cottage would not show the granting of planning for adjoining development - this information must have been obtained by them from a different source.
We check the local search to ensure the planning permission for the development is noted and isses are correct for the plot/property client is purchasing. Th purpose of a local search is to confirm the permission for plots/properties, road issues,, building regulations notices and contraventions etc/
If a client asks us to check the position over adjoining land we woud recommend at this point that they check with the council direct on the councils website - we would however point out that even if there is nothing lodged at the time of looking this can change the very next day as planning is very much a moving thing and can change.
I note that you asked the question of the developer at the time - did they give a statement to you in writing?
Attached is a copy of the local search as requested
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
So did the solicitor just fail to report this to you when they received the results of the search?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi, based on her response she says it was NOT her duty to understand the implications of planning consent on any land adjacent to the property. The search document from the 3rd of July outlined that further information can be found from the planning inspector's report in June 2015 which was available from the local councils website but it looks like due to her response she believes she does not need to assess that level of detail. This is the crux of it, I am trying to confirm if she should have dug into this and confirmed?
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
It may not have been here duty to report to you on the implications, but she did the search and therefore it was her duty to report to you on the results of the search in her report on the property. If she did not report to you property then you may have a complaint that she was negligent.
Focusing on the developer, has any one else in the development raised the same complaint?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok thanks.The property report has a planning section and it states: The development comprises of a very large area of existing commercial and residential accommodation, coupled with an extensive development area for new housing. As such the site has a recent and comprehensive planning history relating to the current uses of various existing buildings and the searches that you carry out will reveal numerous planning consents. However, the only planning documents that apply to the new housing development are xyzSo I read this that there were further consents available through the search. However her view now is that she didn't need to search to that level of detail (adjacent land) and she wouldn't do even if I requested it a supposedly things change (see previous response). This I don't wholly believe as I am sure planning consent for building on green field is pretty solid, though clearly has to go through planning application and my point here is that we will have reviewed our options if we had the knowledge. I will review my contract with the solicitor and look at the complaints process, if you believe it is worth proceeding with based on the information I have provided?With regard to developer I am one of the first houses here with this aspect across the field, so waiting for other new owners to move in who have the same view. I will liaise with other owners to see what they understand.Should I ask a further question to the development company at this stage?
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. I think the complaint is worth proceeding if she had missed this in here completely - if she said in her report it requires further investigation then that puts the ball back in your court to request further investigation. If you do make a complaint and she does not come up with a satisfactory explanation then you can complain to the Legal Ombudsman www.legalombudsman.org.uk/
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
As for the developer - did you send the developer a property questionnaire? What did the property questionnaire actually ask the developer about the views?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. With regards ***** ***** questionnaire this is my solicitors response.We would not raise queries on surrounding development and land unless specifically asked by our client
In the event we were asked however we would always suggest the client checked with the local authority website and would also say that planning changes constantly and there are no guarantees on development of open land as development is a matter of policy and is ever changing (especially currently with government policy requiring more properties to be built) also even if you do check a website this can change the next day.Also - In my opinion she didn't encourage us to view any planning consents however in the property report her description is - attached are copies of various information forms supplied by the sellers solicitors. Please read through the form and examine the replies carefully. You may consider it necessary to make further enquiries or institute your own survey of the property if you have not already done so.thanks
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. There are no guarantees as to what might in the future. If you had known about this development would you have purchased the property?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi,I agree with the sentiment that there are no guarantees to what might be the future, totally get that, though now knowing that information was publicly available that outlines the local plan - submitted (Jan 2014), modifications (Aug 2014, including this consent of greenfield development) and then the final approval (July 2015, rubber stamping consent before we completed) it saddens me we were in the dark and not advised.To answer your question if we were aware of the consent our immediate reaction is yes we would have definitely thought through our options as when we purchased we actively paid a premium (65k more) for this house versus a similar sized 5 bed down the road in the same development with an alternative developer. We pushed hard to get this house on the premise of what we were being sold - a lovely house with field views and no indication of future development 30 feet away.I have also checked the master plan as advertised by the developer (13th Oct 2014) and it shows future development that we were made aware of, it also outlines potential future development which aligns to the councils plan but still excludes our field which interestingly enough is adjacent to both phase 1 and phase 3 still under development and their current main sales drive.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

Thank you.

It seems to me that your claim should be against the developer. They have misrepresented the situation to make seem like the field views were assured. This can be evidenced by the fact that they have cherry picked what information they would provide to you.

To start with before you can make any claim you need to find out how much this devalue your property.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

AJ

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