Long Term Strategic Planning Pays Off

A marked rise in the number of strategic development sites being proposed and allocated in Local Development Plans in Scotland is signalling a major step forward for businesses investing in land on a long-term basis says Chris Addison-Scott.

In the last 12 months CKD Galbraith has successfully had over 10 sites proposed or allocated in new Local Development Plans on clients' land throughout central Scotland from Fife to South Ayrshire.

These sites, mainly on urban fringe land owned by estates and farms, are often under option to major house builders or developers who are progressing to obtain planning permission. The sites range from 15 units to 1400 units. Most have been promoted for some time and in one case since 2000. In terms of capital value the sites represent potential income to clients of over 100m.

Chris Addison-Scott, partner at CKD Galbraith, said: "The identification and realisation of development sites is a long term strategy which can take decades to come to fruition. The identification of sites can come about in many ways but unlike in the past nearly always have to be actively promoted.

"However, there is a growing body of evidence to show that across Scotland this long-term investment is paying off. The economic downturn obviously had a major impact on some of these sites being taken forward but there are signs that is beginning to change now.

"Councils rarely identify sites without some persuasion. Most of the sites in which we are involved are under Option to house builders who have an agreed timescale under which to achieve an allocation and planning consent. This usually ranges from 5 to 10 years. Many of the Options negotiated in the early 2000s are therefore coming up against performance deadlines for delivery and developers are very aware of this requirement."

CASE STUDY

CKD Galbraith acts for several farmers on the outskirts of Cupar who have been promoting a large multi-ownership site since about 2003. After extensive public consultation the land was identified in the Fife Structure Plan, and most recently TAYplan, and in the Adopted Local Development Plan where Fife Council has identified the land as a Strategic Land Allocation which will include a much needed relief road for Cupar, primary school and affordable housing. Some of the farmers identified the opportunity many years before the proposal came forward and carried out structured tree planting which will screen the development from existing housing as well as providing an edge to the development.

Potential development sites can be identified well in advance by tree and hedge planting along boundaries but inevitably the timescales can be very long term.