DevAssist, have developed and launched a new conveyancing search.
The search informs purchasers, or professionals, of where undeveloped land exists within 75m of a specific property.
When asked where the idea came from Paul Addision of DevAssist said” for years I have listened to very upset and disgruntled residents every time I submitted an application for development. On every occasion, and without any exception, residents were very upset and aggressively sought to have applications overturned and refused. In almost all cases they lost as the general public fails to understand how the planning system works. The idea of educating them has been boiling in my head for some time until I realised that they need to be informed of development risks at the point of purchase. As my Mother would say to be fore warned is to be for armed!”
Paul added further. “Our desire is to educate and inform people what risk, or indeed opportunities, exist for the client. To date we have been able to inform purchasers that the property they seek to buy is actually worth more than they think if they look to exploit its development potential. Conversely we have been able to protect some buyers who thought they were backing onto fields and would enjoy lovely rural views. On investigation it we discovered that the rural land was in fact allocated for development and was vulnerable to change within short periods of time. This clearly benefits the buyer who doesn’t have to make a life-changing mistake and also removes blame from a poor unsuspecting solicitor who unknowingly may have allowed their client to commit to the purchase. In one case we were able to assist the solicitor in identifying a very valuable covenant that the solicitor and purchaser did not know existed as it was registered on adjoining titles. It was so strong that without a significant payment from the developer the land could not be developed”.
Morrison’s solicitors, were quick to sign up. Jeremy Jupp, Partner and Head of Residential Property at Morrison’s Solicitors says: "An assessment of the potential risk of development in the foreseeable future, particularly when clients are purchasing a property next to, or in the vicinity of open land, brown field sites or residential areas with large gardens adds value to the searches usually undertaken. It has become an important part of the due diligence we undertake on behalf of clients in every residential purchase we transact as a firm."
Andrew Stenning of Searches UK, one of the first search providers to offer the product, said “this is the most informative and innovative products the search industry has seen in a long time. Even in the short time we have been marketing the product the take up and interest has been outstanding. Solicitors cannot ignore this product.”
Branded as DevCheck & DevAssess, this service identifies development potential risk/opportunities where planning applications have not even been submitted. It also can uncover hidden value within searched properties. The search includes detailed mapping clearly showing where development might happen and includes a detailed Plansearch plus report from Landmark or a GroundSure Planning Report exposing recent and current planning applications.
The demand for this type of information has increased over recent months as purchasers seek more in-depth information on the level of risk they are taking when investing into a property.
The demand has been further fuelled by Government policy changes towards a presumption in favour of development. Paul adds ‘the government has stated that by 2026 4.8 million homes will need to be provided. As a nation, and contrary to what most people think, we actually live in only 4 million acres of the 60 million available to us. Unless we make use of green spaces, which is equally controversial, this equates to an additional 8.3 homes to every urban acre in the country. This may also shock people but the green belt has actually expanded in recent years and not shrunk as 72% of the population thought. Equally over 50% of Britain is made up of protected green spaces. Do the math; this is a very real and present truth. 85% of all searches are already showing development opportunities within the 75m searched radius. Most are benign risks and we inform and educate to that end. Nevertheless clients are informed and the solicitor adds value to their service.”
Paul Addison, MD of DevAssist said, “This is the first time conveyancing practitioners will be able to offer clients more in-depth knowledge on potential development risks. Most importantly, they will also have access to a professional opinion on the level of risk involved, ranging from low to high. We are also COPSO and PCCB approved. This type of information is key to allaying purchasers’ concerns and helping them make more informed judgments on their potential investment.”