New Build Commercial and Residential Projects

Where there is more space at a site, less constraints, and buildings which don't utilise the land very effectively, new build development can be the best way to maximise value. But before embarking on this, it is essential to consider the different options for the site, challenges that the site represents, and potential issues that will limit the options.

Below is a brief, informal guide to the different options and typical issues that should be considered. With our service we will methodically consider all of these issues in detail, and other less common factors, as we help develop your scheme in order to maximise its potential within these constraints.

Please note that some of the typical issues below may require the employment of specialists outside our consultancy, such as tree experts, economists, contaminated land experts, archaeologists, etc. depending on the complexity of the issue. Where this is the case, we will advise you as soon as possible in advance, and help you source suitable expertise.

If you think these type of developments have potential with your property, why not give us a call? We would be delighted to discuss your proposal and help set you on the right track.


Types of new build developments


The phrase "as safe as houses" seems very appropriate when it comes to housing developments. Residential property prices in London and the South East of England have consistently risen in value, even during economically troubled times. Successful new-builds can offer both resale and rental potential, with a potentially huge uplift in value.

However, despite government policy being supportive of new housing one should not assume that this is a straightforward matter. Issues to consider include:

Affordable housing and economic viability: With any scheme above ten new residential units, most Local Planning Authorities will require a proportion of the new housing to be affordable housing. This can jeapordise the economic viability of such schemes. In this instance a statement demonstrating that the development is not economically viable if such affordable housing targets are met can be submitted. Where it is successfully demonstrating, a more modest amount of affordable housing can be offered. Most Local Planning Authorities would expect some contribution to this, especially with larger schemes.

Design and Appearance: The general principle here is that the larger and more visually prominent the scheme, the greater the contribution the scheme needs to make to the character and appearance of the area. However, a high standard of design and finish is expected from all new-builds generally, and other planning benefits from the scheme do not outweigh the harm caused by poor design.

Impact on neighbours: From the outset the impact of a new-build on the neighbours' residential amenities will need to be considered. It is important to keep neighbours in the loop about the proposal, and if possible keep them on side, as it will be more difficult obtaining permission with many objections, or if it is perceived to be detrimental to neighbours' quality of life. Like design matters, other planning benefits from the scheme would not outweigh the harm caused by overbearing and unneighbourly development.

Standard of accommodation proposed: New housing is expected to meet local and national standards in terms of factors like: suitable aspect, outlook and ventilation; access to outdoor amenity space; suitable floor area and a reasonable amount of privacy. Proposing units which exceed these standards can help justify a scheme which is inadequate in other respects.

Transport impacts and parking: Invariably new housing will place additional pressure on the transport network, in terms of safety, congestion and parking availability. Here, it is important to consider how the scheme can provide a suitable mix of transport options, has practical and safe access, and adequate transport parking facilities. Where this isn't possible, a contribution to public transport facility may be expected.

Refuse and recycling: Although a relatively straightforward matter, adequate and sustainable waste disposal is often overlooked initially, with the result being rather ill-considered arrangements that can spoil an otherwise high quality development. Whilst such matters can normally resolved via pre-commencement conditions (click HERE for more information on this), it is quicker, easier and cheaper to provide suitable details as part of the planning permission application.

Heritage, archaeology, contaminated land, trees and biodiversity: These issues only arise where the site is within or close to these relevant constraints. The value which Local Planning Authorities place on these issues, in particular trees, biodiversity and heritage, should not be underestimated. The scheme will need to demonstrate that these issues have been considered properly, and any assets will not be harmed, or if harm is inevitable then appropriate compensation is provided. Issues of archaeology and contaminated land can normally resolved via pre-commencement conditions.


It is important to not underestimate the value of developing new commercial space. As offices and other commercial uses around the country have been converted into residential units, so commercial have declined in supply. As a consequence, commercial developments are becoming more sought after.

These types of developments have their own planning issues. In addition to the above issues being relevant (except for affordable housing and accommodation standards); the following factors should also be considered:

Compatibility with other uses in the area: If the development site is close to housing, the impact of the commercial use has on neighbours must be considered. This is more fundamental than just the impact on quality of life, because if it is perceived that the use will be unduly noisy and/or polluting, then the scheme will be refused in principle. Mitigation measures may be possible to make the impacts acceptable, but this is not always possible. It should be recognised that some commercial uses are not compatible within residential areas.

Loss of housing: Although unusual, commercial proposals that are replacing residential units are likely to face opposition, due to the significant weight that is given to providing an adequate housing supply. In such instances, these schemes may be fundamentally unacceptable, unless it can be demonstrated that the economic benefits of the commercial proposal outweigh the harm caused.

Mixed Use Residential and Commercial

Quite possibly the best of both worlds; by providing both commercial and residential space, it can also be easier to obtain planning permission, especially in instances where the equivalent to that which is being demolished can be replaced and integrated into the development. Such developments can be more complicated by raising both residential and commercial planning issues however, and therefore can take more time to deliver.

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