IN bygone days, if you wanted to convert an outbuilding, add on a bedroom or build a conservatory, you just did it.
But then, in the summer of 1948, the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 came into effect and ever since we’ve needed planning permission for anything deemed to be “development”.
That means any building, engineering or mining operation, or any material change in the use of a property.
Not many people apply to commence mining operations in their gardens – not in the Harrogate district, at least – but we are rather partial to a nice conservatory.
The law says that all planning applications should be decided upon in accordance with the local development plan, meaning that decisions are “policy-led” rather than “influence-led”. So even though residents are usually consulted about their neighbours’ planning applications, whether they’re granted or declined will not depend on how popular they are.
For many homebuyers, development opportunities are a major draw because they offer the chance to add value to a property. Estate agents know this, and will often dangle the tantalising prospect of an extra bedroom, “subject to the necessary planning consents”.
That means the place has got potential, but you’ll have to do the paperwork as well as the spadework.
Some properties, though, are sold with planning permission already granted – sometimes with detailed architect’s plans included.
For the vendor, this might help make the “dream” more tangible and therefore easier to sell, while for the buyer, it has the distinct advantage of stripping out a layer of work.
The following four properties are all for sale and all have consent for varying kinds of development.
Number 22 Westfield Green in Tockwith has already been enlarged, but has consent to extend even further.
The house currently has a maximum of five bedrooms, but the one over the garage is accessed via another much smaller one which could be used as a dressing room.
Planning permission was approved in summer 2010 to create two additional bedrooms and an en suite facility, and there are detailed architect’s drawings available for inspection.
The Hay Loft at Blue Plain Farm near Glasshouses offers more of a project.
Currently a good-looking but agricultural shell with a paddock of about 1.65 acres, it has planning consent for conversion into a three-bedroom property with beautiful views of Nidderdale.
Mains gas, electricity and water are available nearby, but the buyer will need to connect these services to the property, as well as install a new sewage treatment plant.
A similarly rural, but altogether larger, project is at Haddockstones Farm near Markington. It is currently a collection of stone barns and outbuildings, but there is planning consent to convert the barns into two spacious houses, as well as to build two affordable properties and change the use of the agricultural building to class B1 (office) and B2 (general industrial) use.
The site already has power, but access, water supply and sewage treatment will all have to be provided by the buyer, although the first two of these may be capable of being extended from the neighbouring Haddockstones Farm, whose owners are selling this site.
Finally, and most strikingly, Yorkshire Water is selling off a former water tower at Spacey Houses.
The early 20th century property is perched on a hill, surrounded by 1.44 acres of mature woodland on the south side of Harrogate, and has planning consent for conversion to a four-bedroom house.
Tony Webber of Eddisons, the company which will auction the building on February 23, said: ‘It’s highly unusual for a building of this nature to be offered with residential planning permission, which I expect to be reflected in the interest it generates.”