A year to remember

23 April 2021

I think we can all agree that it was a busy year filled with new challenges. We continue to support our clients as they adapt to their new environments and we look forward to seeing what the coming year brings.

Helen Cuthbert Managing Director London

The completion of Planning Potential’s 15th year end coincided with the full-year anniversary of us all working remotely. Following some very concerning and difficult times for everyone, things are starting to look up and, as we unlock, we feel this is a good opportunity to look back on what has certainly been an unusual year.

For many, the start of the last financial year drew trepidation, as we feared what the consequences of the pandemic would be generally and specifically for the property sector. But, as the snapshot of our work demonstrates, whilst we approached certain things with more caution than we may have otherwise done, like our clients, we adapted to the evolving context, ultimately securing positive results and a busy year for our teams.

Vital Support

Generally, as ever, we have been helping our clients maximise their asset value and flexibility.  This includes helping landlords optimise the new E use class potential, successfully securing lawful use certificates for over 10,000 sq m of unrestricted floorspace.

We have provided support to essential retailers through the height of the pandemic, submitting over 30 applications to take advantage of the relaxation in restrictions relating to store deliveries. We also secured 50 consents for a new high street roll-out.

Testing our reflexes

Our hospitality clients faced uncertain times and there was an evident need to react quickly to the shifting challenges. We helped our clients switch emphasis to outside dining, securing 1,747 al fresco dining covers, and also used periods of closure to secure consents for refurbishments and extensions.

The first discount foodstore in the City of Westminster was secured for Aldi, and in total 29 new foodstore applications were submitted by us over the year. Never ones to shy away from a difficult site, one of these stores was in the Green Belt, but we were able to galvanise local support.

Much needed homes

On the residential side, we have submitted our single largest scheme to date, a 1,629 dwelling hybrid application in West London, supported by a full Environmental Impact Assessment. Also in West London, we submitted our first “biophilic” development application.

We are pleased to be supporting councils in developing homes on land in public ownership. Our achievements include securing planning consent for homes on an unallocated site in the North York Moors National Park, previously a school site owned by North Yorkshire County Council. Meaningful pre-application discussions and engagement ensured that the application was approved less than 3 months following submission under delegated powers. We used the wonders of Zoom to ensure our community consultation remained at the forefront of our proposals.

Virtual engagement

In fact, our communications team has been as busy as ever, hosting at least 47 rounds of virtual community consultations, organising a regular stream of stakeholder meetings and issuing communications to over 126,000 households. Going completely virtual has been a learning curve for us, the project teams and the community alike.  Our positive conversations, and ultimate success at committee has demonstrated that engagement can work in a virtual world. Having said that, we can’t wait to get out there again and start meeting people face-to-face!

Revitalising designated sites

Designated sites present a whole host of challenges and are often overlooked or disused as a result. Two of the projects we worked on over the last 12 months involved sites which had been identified as Assets of Community Value. Following the full due process of offering these sites to the community, we secured consent for the delivery of new homes, alongside a range of community benefits. We also secured consent for a fully affordable scheme on Metropolitan Open Land in South East London

On our pro bono work we were pleased to support Maggie’s and help to deliver a Cancer Care Centre at the Royal Free Hospital in London, designed by Daniel Libeskind.  Construction starts this summer.

Welcome recognition

Finally, in terms of accolades our own Penny Moss was appointed to the High Street Task Force, and we were finalists for the “Planning Awards” Planning Permission of the Year.

I think we can all agree that it was a busy year filled with new challenges. We continue to support our clients as they adapt to their new environments and we look forward to seeing what the coming year brings.

Download a copy of our Year to Remember