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Aligning interests make shorter work of Greenfield planning

Harry Stott shows that the right combination can rise to the challenges of the residential development sector.

The route to the sale of a greenfield site is often complex and can be time-consuming, however, it can also happen more timeously, with the combination of a willing landowner and a proactive and pragmatic promotion partner, as seen by the recent sale of a greenfield site in which we were involved that will see 85 new homes built in Larbert. 


The site in the popular commuter town of Larbert also happens to be one of only a handful of greenfield sites in Scotland to be granted consent at appeal in 2018, which demonstrates the challenges facing the residential development sector. 


On this occasion with Galbraith acting for the landowner, we were partnered with Gladman Developments Ltd through a promotion agreement relating to approximately 13.34 acres (5.4 ha) of undeveloped land off Stirling Road. 


In 2016 Gladman had identified the site as suitable for development and after agreement was reached between the landowner and Gladman in May 2017 they set to work on obtaining a planning consent through a detailed planning strategy which was agreed with the landowner. 


Led by Gladman’s internal planning team, the strategy included ongoing pre-application discussions with Falkirk Council after Gladman lodged a proposal of application notice in 2016, with a consultation event and liaison with the community council. 


A second proposal of application notice was lodged in 2017 with a further public exhibition. The consultation responses led Gladman to make changes to the proposed framework and development, to include a reduction in the proposed unit numbers on site, allowing views westwards across newly created parkland from the town and the introduction of a range of house types. 


This formed the basis of a planning application in principle being submitted to Falkirk Council in October 2017, with linked SuDs facility on additional land owned by the landowners. 


Subject to developer contributions for education and increasing local school and nursery capacity, there were no statutory objections to the planning application. The application was considered at a hearing and then determined at committee, but was refused on 8 March 2018.


Gladman lodged an appeal on 31 May 2018 and a notice of intention issued on 6 December 2018. 


A Section75 legal agreement considering affordable housing provision, education contributions and open space provision was subsequently negotiated and agreed with Falkirk Council, resulting in planning permission in principle being issued on 25 April 2019. This appeal decision was the only permission issued for new homes in the Falkirk area in 2018.


The site was then marketed by Galbraith and, with a significant amount of interest, a closing date was set and the site was sold unconditionally to Avant Homes in Autumn 2019.  


Catherine Wood, Strategic Planning and Land Director for Gladman, said:

We are delighted to have partnered with the landowner and Galbraith and delivered a permission which enables new homes to be built in Larbert. These will be built by Avant Homes with 25% of them being affordable for local families in need.



The successful sale demonstrates that with the right partner, the correct skill set and knowledge of the planning system as well as the ability to articulate the appropriate planning arguments, the timeframe for signature of the promotion to sale can be shortened if the interest of the parties involved are aligned.