Property Solvers (Development Services) is an acquisition and promotion company that works with property and land owners to maximise sales value and manage the associated risks inherent within the planning system. We are actively in search of sites across Greater London, the Thames Valley, the Home Counties, Sussex, Essex and Kent.
Should you own such a property / land plot or would simply like to find out how we work directly with land / development site owners, please fill our contact form or call us during office hours on 020 8226 6901. Please also scroll down to read our frequently asked questions (FAQs).
PS Development Services considers sites of any size, shape or configuration – from smaller conversions, garden plots, under-utilised land and run down properties to more larger and complex projects.
We spend a significant proportion of our time establishing direct contact with owners of sites that we perceive may present an interesting opportunity for residential / commercial / mixed-use development or redevelopment (subdivision and/or extension). This slightly unorthodox sourcing strategy was borne out of several years' experience of directly approaching property owners and developing genuine "win-win" fast sale solutions without third party involvement, such as via estate agencies or commercial brokerages. The added benefit of operating in this manner is that the entire transaction is undertaken privately and there are no commissions, fees or associated legal costs incurred by landowners should our services be contracted and/or we engage in a private acquisition.
Upon meeting us, should it be appropriate, we will request the opportunity find out more about the site itself to be able to initiate some preliminary investigations and examine if and how the project could be feasible from a development perspective. We always appreciate as much information as possible regarding the site's history as well as the owners own circumstances to begin to ascertain if we will be able to add value using specialist planning expertise.
Adding Planning Value
We work with a panel of reputable consultants and architects with a view to maximising the return possible on the sale of the site with planning consent in place – a figure that is usually considerably higher than the Existing Use Value (EUV). It is through these collaborations and our own detailed value engineering processes that we can establish the optimum site design and, therefore, unlock the very best open market value at no cost or risk to the land / site owner.
Upon closer examination of a given site, should we perceive that there may well be genuine opportunity, with the owner's explicit permission, we will initiate a formal planning consultation process, liaise with the Local Planning Authority (LPA) and produce an outline financial appraisal to examine project viability. Should it be deemed necessary, Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) can also be drawn up to ensure the mutual confidentiality of all the parties involved.
Based on a positive outcome from our initial investigation, we would need to engage in a more thorough project analysis process. This will involve prearranged visits to the site with our associated planning and architectural consultants complemented by in depth discussions with the local planning authority, engineers, quantity surveyors and other professional services. Naturally, we will respect any decision to hold back and provide our full contact details should you wish to get in touch at a later date and/or make independent enquiries.
Become a Referral / Land Finding Partner
Should you know of or come across a piece of land or building with development potential, we would be very interested in running the opportunity through our detailed appraisal process. Once proven to demonstrate genuine scope for development, we will offer an excellent land finding referrals package. We are also actively looking to collaborate with established property developers in Greater London, the Thames Valley, the Home Counties, Sussex, Essex and Kent. Please get in touch with us during office hours on 020 8226 6901 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is land promotion?
In practical terms, land promotion involves a detailed assessment of the suitability of a given development site, subsequently producing plans / scheme designs / reports while undertaking all the relevant surveys and liaising with the local authority. The overarching aim is to obtain unconditional planning consent, upon which the site will be sold to the highest bidding third party (normally a professional housebuilder) or built out directly. The entire process is normally undertaken at no expense to the land / development site owner. Should the planning outcome be successful, upon disposal, land promoters typically work on a profit share basis commensurate with the associated up-front planning risks and costs of executing the application.
- What are PS Development Services credentials as land promoters?
PS Development Services is a trading style of Property Solvers Limited (Company No.: 05878362). Co-Director Ruban Selvanayagam has been involved in the residential property industry (principally in the buy to let space) since 2006 and has since developed a keen interest in in town planning, sustainable housebuilding and the social housing sectors both in the UK and Latin America. As professional property buyers, Property Solvers Limited is registered with the Property Ombudsman, Trading Standards, the National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB) and also adheres to the government's own data protection and money laundering regulations. Please feel free to request our credentials via firstname.lastname@example.org and, should we propose to acquire the site directly, we are more than happy to demonstrate proof of funds.
- What kinds of sites do you purchase and/or promote?
We are interested in exploring everything from small conversion projects and build to let investments (which we would normally purchase and execute ourselves) right through to mid to larger strategic sites that can be promoted upon a successful planning outcome to willing developers and/or approved building firms. We also consider joint ventures, commercial sale and rent back acquisitions and transfers of going concerns (TOGC).
- What is "Planning Gain"?
The term planning gain, in the strictest sense of the word, often gets misinterpreted as solely related to financial "value capture" that benefits both the landowner and, eventually, the housebuilder. Whilst there are scenarios where planning permission is obtained relatively easily, such as through with Permitted Development, most proposals to build new homes require careful consideration of the future impacts on local community dynamics, the environment and transport sustainability whilst ensuring that there is adequate social infrastructure (schools, health services, shops, recreational, cultural stimuli amongst other amenities). A badly designed, unintegrated development serves very little bar creating local contention and, in most cases, will rarely progress beyond the application stage. Professional land promoters and developers therfore understand that any gains from a successful planning application must be distributed across all the project stakeholders, the end buyer and the local community.
- What are the costs of a planning application?
Depending on the scope of the development, there will probably be little or no charge to obtain some cursory information which will serve as an approximate guide. More cohesive investigations usually will come at cost that will vary according to the scope and size of the project. In addition to a detailed appraisal process, most planning applications require a significant body of technical reports including transport, flood risk, waste disposal, utilities management, environmental and energy assessments as well as tree, ecology, sustainability and other relevant evidence. As land promoters, PS Development Services will in most cases absorb these professional services costs.
- Should I not just sell the site to a developer directly (without planning consent)?
The majority of mid sized developers / professional building firms do not have in-house planning teams in place and generally prefer to purchase land with full, unconditional consent in place. This is often due to the uncertainty that governs the planning process in addition to the associated costs and time constraints involved. Whilst purchasing sites without planning is certainly not ruled out, most will require a suitable discount to factor in the associated risks and any costs of enhancement in line with their needs. PS Development Services, on the other hand, will work hard to achieve a scheme design that will ultimately realise maximum open market value (in the form of saleable square feet).
- What is the difference between an option agreement and a land promotion agreement?
An option agreement is a right (not an obligation) that the landowner grants a developer to acquire a given site within a specified period of time. The developer will normally apply for planning permission, at their own expense. If granted by the Local Planning Authority (LPA), the landowner is contractually bound to sell to the developer at the pre-agreed value.
A promotion agreement typically has the same characteristics as an option agreement, however both the land owner and the promoter (which may or may not be the developer) will work together to "promote" the development project once planning has been granted.
From a land owners perspective, working on a promotion agreement basis is arguably more preferable as it enables the landowner to secure the optimum price. An option agreement, typically agreed with a developer, is negotiated at the lowest price possible. However, depending on the scope and size of a development proposal, there may be some kind of hybrid agreement in place.
- How do you examine the planning potential of a site?
Upon closer examination of a given site, should we perceive that there may well be opportunity to enhance its value, with the owner's explicit permission, we will initiate consultations with who we feel would be the most suitable architectural practice / planning consultancy and produce an outline financial appraisal ourselves to examine project viability. This process may also involve liaising with the local planning authority and our trusted development services associates. However, we will refrain from taking any of these steps at the request of the owner(s) should there be any privacy issues. Nondisclosure agreements can also be drawn up to ensure confidentiality (when/if deemed necessary).
It should be noted that, whilst we categorically avoid spurious "rule of thumb" estimations and take pride in our ability to compile non-speculative financial models, there will be a wide range of questions that simply cannot be answered as a result of these initial investigations. Therefore, upon our subsequent meetings, whilst monetary terms may be discussed, adopting generic appraisal rules at such an early stage is unlikely to provide owners with a clear understanding of what their site is worth with full planning in place.
Should we be confident about our ability to assist, we would need to engage in a more thorough project analysis process. This will involve arranged visits to the site with our associated planning and architectural consultants complemented by in depth discussions with the local planning authority, engineers, quantity surveyors and other associated services. Naturally, we will respect any decision to hold back and will provide our full contact details should you wish to get in touch at a later date or make independent enquiries.
- How do you calculate the value of land with and without planning?
We will usually aim to establish a "bricks and mortar" and/or existing use value (EUV) of the site either through information that the landowner already has or via our own independent investigations (using a RICS-approved surveyor, where necessary). To ascertain the aproximate value of the site with planning, we will start by undertaking a preliminary "residual valuation", i.e. – where the overall costs of build plus an industry standard profit margin from the value of the completed project leaves a figure that represents the approximate land value. This figure will be broadly anecdotal until we have a clearer idea of the scope of allowable construction as a result of conversations with our associated planning consultants and the Local Planning Authority (LPA). Furthermore, it is necessary to undertake more sophisticated calculations based on specifications, unit sizes and a number of other variables / practicalities.
- Will there be any transaction costs?
No. After initial analysis of the land / development site, we would typically present all the associated risks and costs, alongside our remuneration requirements (usually based on the added value achieved as a result of planning permission being granted). We will naturally give you and any co-owners time to consider our proposal and engage in your own due diligence prior to signing any form of contractual agreement. Providing all parties involved are comfortable moving forward, we can then begin work on the application process and engage with the relevant professional partners. Should we purchasing the site directly, we will also cover all legal costs and associated disbursements.
- What kind of information will be required?
Detailed information such as floor plans, square footage, photos and other relevant documentation certainly help us at the initial stages of investigation. Note that we are happy to look at previously declined applications
- What if I know of a site that has potential but I am not the owner?
We are very interested in working with land finders use several online tools, particularly the Land Registry, to find out owner details and communicate directly. Our aim is to open a non-obligatory and informal dialogue. At this juncture, we completely understand that property and land owners may simply be curious as to what the redeveloped value of the land as a result of adding planning value would be and selling may not even be a serious consideration.
- I still have other questions?
We welcome any further questions and queries by filling our simple form, contacting us by e-mail email@example.com or leaving us a message via 020 8226 6901.