1 Finding the best potential for development

Finding the best potential for development.

You may have a piece of land, be it part of a farm holding, a gap site in the town, an excessive amount of garden ground or a piece of derelict commercial ground.

You may already have a very clear idea as to what you would like to do with this, or you may have no idea at all and wish to consider the options.

There are a number of critical issues to be resolved before you consider how to proceed. For example:

First of all there are the ground conditions. This may involve natural influences such as the topography of the site, the presence of watercourse, the groundwater characteristics, and the site’s liability to flooding, the geological stability of the ground, and the type of vegetation. There may be historical land uses that may influence the suitability of the site for development, for example mining, landfill, waste disposal and past industrial or agricultural uses. 

There may be nearby uses that will restrict the type of development that may be appropriate. Your proposal may adversely affect nearby residential amenity, or nearby commercial uses may prevent occupiers of your development achieving adequate levels of amenity. There may be a road or railway nearby which may have to be assessed for noise levels.

The landscape character and setting may influence the type or level of development that can be adequately accommodated. This may depend upon tree cover and topography. In urban settings, the scale of surrounding buildings may determine what scale of development is appropriate to your site. Landscape proposals may be required as part of the application, and will have to be accommodated on land under the applicant’s control. 

The designation of sites for wildlife, landscape or cultural significance will influence the level and type of development that may be acceptable. For example “areas of great landscape value”, Sites of specific scientific interest, nature reserves, special protection areas, conservation areas, ancient monuments etc etc.

Accessibility will be a major factor. If access is from a trunk road then Transport Scotland will have to be notified and involved in the process. Sight lines, visibility splays and road capacity will be issues. An appropriate level of parking will have to be accommodated on land under the applicant’s control.

Connection to services will need to be assessed. Is there mains water, mains sewer, electricity, gas telephone and broadband available to the site? If not then how will these be provided? If the site requires to be served by a private water supply or septic tank/soakaway then will this adversely affect existing users?

And does the development accord with the local development plan and national planning policies? There are quite strict planning policies controlling all development and any proposal needs to be considered in light of these.

Early consultation with the necessary authorities will highlight what the main issues are and will allow attention to be focussed on key issues in order to maximise the chances of planning permission being granted. It will also be a very good guide as to what development potential a site may have.