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Playing the long game pays off

A generation-spanning development project takes stamina and vision, says Chris Addison-Scott.

A planning process which we began with a private client in 1990 has paid off 26 years later.

The residential development of four acres of greenfield land at Houston, Renfrewshire, is the result of a lengthy process which proves that continuity of management is key in playing the long game. Back in 1990, Elderslie Estates, owners of the Newton Drive Tennis Courts in Elderslie sold the land with the agreement of the tennis club to Wimpey Home.s The club and estate then jointly developed a state of the art facility at the nearby village of Houston. This became the Strathgryffe Tennis, Squash and Fitness Club.

We chose this area specifically to be near an existing community lacking such facilities on a level greenfield site. With careful tree planting the development gave a long-term opportunity for further development by providing a new hard edge to the village. Once the club was developed, the members bought the site, merged with another local club and provided further covered courts with LTA assistance, which would not have been available had they remained as tenants.

The estate had been promoting the potential development land through various house builders over the years. In 2012 they entered into an option agreement with Stewart Milne Homes, who successfully argued that the site be allocated in the Renfrewshire Local Development Plan. The first phase of four acres has now received full planning permission for 32 detached houses.

In 2000 we had advised the owners to acquire a house and garden in order to facilitate and secure site access and avoid third party rights. This has proved to be essential to avoid the development being held to ransom.

Other issues, such as dealing with rights of servitude and drainage, were also secured with minimum costs because we dealt with them in advance. Price negotiations and resolving abnormal costs have taken almost a year but have been taken amicably with the house builder. There have been no planning contributions or affordable housing provision.

The key ingredients of this generation-spanning project have been to:

  • Identify opportunities early
  • Engage with the local community
  • Undertake enabling works like tree planting
  • Secure third-party rights
  • Promote sites through well-respected house builders

Delivering this successful project has taken stamina, commitment and vision, and we look forward to seeing this new community thrive.