State of the Moratorium on new residential properties in West Wirral - Update

by Nick 9. February 2013 17:28

In July 2011 we prepared a blog titled 'the State of the Moratorium on new residential properties in West Wirral' (see our website

Our blog followed an enquiry from a client looking into the possibility of obtaining planning permission for a single dwelling on a substantial plot of land within their garden.

The plot obtained a planning approval in the past which had lapsed.

Over the last 18 months we have followed progress of the Interim Housing Policy, which had become known as the moratorium. In this time there have been numerous reports that the policy would be lifted. We have now been advised by the Planning department that the Policy was lifted, with immediate effect, in October 2012.

Opening the door on development

As a region we need to be conscious that this does not lead to the same over development on small plots that occurred prior to the policy coming into place, however it could open the door to the development of suitably sized plots of land that have been on hold since 2005.

This will have impact on various forms of residential development across Wirral and we have been approached by a number of clients looking to revisit the development of garden plots for one off houses. We have discussed these potential sites with the Planning department and been advised that garden plots are now considered suitable for development. Each case will be reviewed on its own merits an in relation to the Planning Policies. The impact on neighbouring properties will have to be considered particularly in relation to overlooking and loss of light.

Obtaining Planning Permission for a garden plot.

For anyone looking to develop a garden plot we would advise that the Planning Department is approached at an early stage to establish the likelihood 'in principle' of obtaining a permission.

Following this initial enquiry there are two approaches to submitting an application:

• Outline Planning submission

• Full Planning submission

The choice of application will be based on your aspirations for the site:

Do you want to obtain Planning Permission for a property of a particular size and type in order safeguard the future potential for the site?

Do you want to design and develop a property for yourselves?

Outline Planning Applications

This enables the applicant to submit for Planning at an early stage without the costs associated with a fully designed building. An outline application is submitted with limited details and could be as straightforward as providing the following information:

• Location Plan indicating the proposed site in relation to surrounding properties and roads.

• A plan to show the footprint of the property within the site.

• Indicative elevations showing proposed heights of the property in relation to neighbours.

• Completed application form including a description of the proposal.

• An application fee to the Local Authority.

The level of information required for an Outline Application will vary and be specific to the site. It is best to discuss the requirements with the Local Authority prior to submission.

Following the approval of an Outline application a 'reserved matters' application must being submitted within three years.

This will approve the details not included in the outline submission and may include:

Appearance, Means of access, Landscaping, Layout and Scale

Full Planning Applications

A Full Planning Application will require the design of the property to be completed at the time of submission.

This will include materials, layout, window positions, appearance, scale, access landscaping and possibly more depending on the proposal.

An approval will relate specifically to the design submitted. As a result the design stage for a full application is longer and professional fees will be higher.

Once approved construction must start within 3 years for the approval to remain valid.

For both Outline and Full Plans Applications we would always recommend that clients discuss their proposals with neighbours prior to submission. An understanding of the proposals will often allay any concerns that neighbours may have and carefully considered and considerate design can enhance the appearance of an area.


Semi–independent living

by Nick 9. February 2013 17:15

Q. We are considering extending our property in order to cater for an aging parent. We would like to provide some accommodation that will offer the security of living with us while at the same time independence for everyone. Will dividing the house have an impact on the property’s selling potential?

A. Development of domestic properties changed very slowly in the period before the industrial revolution. Since then society has changed rapidly and there have been major modifications to the properties we live in.

We are currently noticing two significant influences on the way domestic properties are being modified / designed and the works people want to carry out:

1. The aging population.

2. The current economic climate

The aging population

Caring for our relatives as they get old is currently very topical and, where possible, this is proving to be an attractive option within many families. We are therefore noticing that clients are asking to modify their properties in order to provide a degree of independent living within the property for their elderly parents while also giving them the security of being close by.

In order to ensure that the property cannot be divided and sold separately, planning policy could prevent complete separation of the property. Shared spaces such as a utility that links the independent accommodation to the main property may overcome this.

Many people will want this accommodation to be as independent as possible, possibly with its own external door and stairs, if it is created on two stories.

It may be preferable to provide the accommodation on the ground floor only and this has two benefits. It avoids negotiating stairs and also reduces the level of alteration if the property was to be converted back into a complete house in the future.

I understand your concerns regarding the selling potential of a property with two quite separate elements created for very specific purposes. While this is a question that is worth asking an estate agent, the influence of the current economic climate may also help answer your query.

The Property Ladder

For young people to get onto the property ladder is difficult in the current climate. This results in a move toward renting rather than buying, a situation that has existed in many European countries for some time. It has also resulted in many young people returning home after university or staying at home longer once they start work.

A form of independent accommodation would enable young people to stay at home and save money while at the same time provide independence from their parents.

The home office

Since 2008 there has been a marked increase in the number of people working from home.

This is influenced by the economic climate and improvements in technology and is likely to be an increasing trend in the future.

Some form of self-contained accommodation within a domestic property would be an ideal space for use as a home office.

In summary, if you are looking to extend your property you should not only look at the short-term benefits but also how the accommodation can be adapted in the future for a variety of uses.

Ensure that you maintain flexibility for future use by yourself or a potential buyer. Flexibility is always the key and ‘granny flat’ accommodation has the potential to appeal to a wider spectrum of society than it did in the past.


About are Wirral based architects working from offices in Heswall covering Wirral, much of Cheshire and Merseyside. All projects are designed and led by an RIBA Chartered Architect.
Established 10 years ago we have grown our reputation on personal service coupled with sympathetic and innovative design.

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