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About eekoh

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  1. Most of what I've found from my research suggests that allotments do count as agricultural land use, and would not require permission for change of use. Same with orchard, it isn't a leisure/amenity land use, its the growing of foodstuffs and therefore agricultural. Small areas of general woodland can also be planted on agricultural land, though there is a cap on the size of area beyond which it becomes forestry and requires change of use. In fact the first thing that comes up with a google search of 'can I plant trees on agricultural land' is a Farmers Weekly article from Aug 2018 extolling the benefits of doing just that. You can't use an allotment as an extension of a garden so lawns or ornamental flower beds that would count as leisure use are out, but that's not what I'd want to do anyway. There are circumstances where growing flowers could be agricultural - e.g. for natural dyes, essential oils, cut flowers for sale. From other forums, where people have run into problems is where the plot has been adjacent to an existing garden and its been a bit less clear that it isn't an unlawful expansion of the garden or in some cases they've just thought that they own it and can do what they like without paying heed to the land use classification. Nature reserve is something different, and that was perhaps a misleading term to use in my original question. There are plenty of wildlife friendly things that can be accommodated within agricultural use without any official classification as a 'reserve'. Anyway, whatever I might use the land for in the shorter term, there remains the question of whether it would be feasible to get a portion of it included within the local plan at a later date and thus converted to residential rather than trying to prove a viable business to get a tiny dwelling consented under agricultural permissions. I have no desire to build (or live in!) a housing estate and they might not be interested in something as small scale as one or two dwellings, but it does seem plausible that such an approach could work within the current planning policy framework. Something to investigate further at least. If I could afford to buy a small farm it would be so much simpler!
  2. Yeah, I need to read up a bit on exactly what is permitted on agricultural land but I think growing fruit & veg should be allowed as they are foodstuff rather than ornamental and also beehives for honey. And lots of farms have native species hedgerows, set aside areas, species rich meadows etc - in fact there are environmental stewardship schemes to encourage farms to include more of this sort of thing so that should all be feasible too. You don't need to farm in a big commercial way for it to count as agricultural use, the bit where you'd need to prove its a viable business that needs you to live on site is if you're aiming to get consent for a dwelling on that basis alone. But what I'm considering is slightly different - at the Local Plan review the council would typically be actively seeking additional residential land and if the whole parcel was put forward by the likes of Barratts, Bellways, Wimpy etc they'd probably couldn't say yes fast enough!
  3. Yep, I'm aware of uplift etc. Its still far more feasible financially than buying a residential plot of the size that I want. I'd actually be perfectly happy to maintain most of my plot as agricultural. Unfortunately, there is very little provision in current English planning policy to create a new small-holding style development.
  4. So there's some farmland come up for sale at the edge of the town where I live. I'd very much like to build in or close to this town, but plots are hard to come by because its not very big and its surrounded by farmland. I could afford to buy a couple of acres (if the vendor is willing to split the land parcel), though as its agricultural clearly I wouldn't get permission to build a house on it in the shorter term. But what I was wondering is whether there is an opportunity to play the long game here the same way that a commercial developer would. Its adjacent to the settlement boundary and access is at the end of an existing residential lane so in theory, when the LPAs local plan is up for review in a couple of years time I could propose it for allocation as residential and they would have a perfectly logical and policy-friendly way of altering the official land use to permit a dwelling. Until then I could use it basically as an allotment, orchard and nature reserve (part of our longer term plan anyway if we can get a plot big enough) because that would count as agricultural land use and I could also probably get consent to build a barn. Anybody have any experience of this approach? Does it sound like a completely stupid idea?!
  5. Wow, that really is a horror story! I take your point about being certain of your exit and I do feel for those folks, but seems they were already in a financial pickle before they went down this route (poor credit history and facing imminent repossession of a property) so turned to it in desperation rather than making a well-considered investment decision. Their lender sounds rather like a loan shark too rather than a reputable investment firm! For me its a very different situation, a loan would be a tool to facilitate getting a project started and only if it stacks up within the overall project budget and schedule - there is no way on earth I'd ever let anything financial get that out of control. I wouldn't be committing to that level of borrowing, I never 'just sign' without understanding the repayment terms and there would most definitely be a planned exit, either repaying it in full with a self-build mortgage or just selling the land - which would be a disappointing outcome, but infinitely better than spiralling debt.
  6. @lizzie The finance will totally depend on the type of project. For some types the deposit will be sufficient to get a self build mortgage, but there's a particular one that I've found where the planning consent has lapsed so isn't immediately mortgageable. For this one it would be the bridging finance that makes it feasible because without it I wouldn't have sufficient capital to buy the plot, even though once I've renewed the consent the figures appear to stack up fine for a mortgage.
  7. @Ferdinand Yeah I've seen the interest rates are higher than other types of loans, but as I'd only be looking for 50-60k even if I keep it for the full year the total cost is only about £5k, which isn't huge in the grand scheme of things. From my internet research so far lot of the bridging finance companies don't even do loans that small, though their max figure is millions! @lizzie If I had that much equity available I wouldn't be looking for bridging finance! (I live in a rented place with my partner now and I'll get about £50k cash some time in the next month from sale of my old house, which is the deposit for this project.)
  8. While lending criteria may change over time, you're absolutely right that your project isn't going to get anywhere if you can't afford to build the design that you've got permission for. If you know that you'll need a mortgage to finance the build then it definitely seems sensible to work out the approx figure you might be able to borrow and get a rough understanding of the typical lending criteria. This is one of the things I've been doing over the last few months because the mortgage figure affects the total project budget available, which in turn affects how much I can spend on buying the plot.
  9. I'm looking into bridging loans as a potential means of part funding purchase of a plot - this would make a big difference to the type and size of plot I can buy, opening up potential opportunities for land where planning consent has lapsed or hasn't yet been sought. (I know there are other issues with that type of project such as risk of not getting consent, overage clauses etc but that's a separate thing and its the bridging aspect I need to understand first.) What I'm not clear on at this stage is whether the bridging loan is secured against the land purchased (as a mortgage would be), or does it need to be held against other assets such as another property, or can it be a combination of both?
  10. An architect friend of mine’s build is one of 12 finalists shortlisted for the RIBA awards 2019 He put it forward himself because as a recently self-employed architect it’s a great endorsement of his work but having made the shortlist he’s expected to attend the awards dinner, which is pretty expensive. Not even the winner gets a free pass to that. Awards schemes may be nice, but not always free to take part.
  11. eekoh


    The sometimes laughable penalties for destroying bat roosts is another sore point for consultants and conservationists alike - I've had clients tell me to my face that they'd knock a building down and take the fine rather than pay for the necessary survey work and licence to do it legally. Cases like this where even a successful prosecution for someone knowing committing a crime results in a penalty that is such an insignificant amount in their overall project budget is little deterrent to that sort of developer. There are however several cases from the last few years where the penalty has been levied under the 'proceeds of crime' legislation, which allows the courts to seize a substantial percentage of the developer's profits - a far better deterrent than a fixed penalty.
  12. It’s not so much the structure of the house itself on this one (a conversion is always going to be more limited than a new build because of working with an existing structure) although I’d probably want to alter the plans slightly to accommodate some eco technology features more easily. But even if I miss out on this plot, because I’m not a cash buyer I’ll have the exact same situation whatever plot I end up with because it will need to already have planning consent before I could get a mortgage to buy it. I can’t be the first person to think of this surely?
  13. The plot I'm interested in already has full planning consent which was granted under PD for reuse of an agricultural barn. Unfortunately I don't have sufficient ££ to buy the land outright so I would need a mortgage offer based on the existing planning consent in order to get a sale agreed with the vendor before it goes to auction (which they are open to). I don't have a specific lender yet, but from my research there seem to be plenty who advertise they will lend against both the land and the build and I have a decent deposit so provided I can get land at the right price the numbers do all stack up. The main issue at the moment is that this plot has come up about 6 months too early and I've still got a fair bit of work to get all my ducks in a row! But its a good one so seems worth trying to bring things together now to make an offer.
  14. Sadly I hear this quite a lot - unfortunately government cutbacks mean many councils no longer employ a County Ecologist to advise on planning matters so that LPAs often don't have access to the in-house expertise on ecology issues that they would have say 10 years ago. Its incredibly frustrating for ecologists too when LPAs don't give consistent advice and completely understandable that people resent having to undertake work that they think someone else has escaped. It undermines trust in my profession and the lack of consistency encourages architects and planners to advise their clients to 'submit and see what comes back' rather than planning for things from the outset, which then leads to situations where applications are delayed because the survey season has been missed or bats are found when contractors start on the roof and everything grinds to a halt.
  15. eekoh


    Yes, its pretty easy to tell bat from rodent droppings when you know what you're looking for, although not necessarily which bat species it is. Bat droppings crumble to a dry powder when squashed whereas rodent droppings will be hard pellets. We can also send a sample of the droppings away to a lab for DNA analysis to confirm bat species (usually about £50-60 for the test), but there would probably still need to be some emergence surveys to get the more detailed info needed about where bats entry/exit points are, how many bats are using the roost and whether they are raising young on site (maternity roost) because that affects how the mitigation would be designed.