Over the last autumn and winter, there were then several meetings and emails, phone calls and requests for more information.
Water infiltration tests and soil surveys told us what we expected: the land is heavy clay under the thin layer of topsoil and there is, therefore, little natural drainage. This would have a big effect on the rainwater drainage system.
Then there was the issue of affordable housing. It was agreed early in the process that the site wouldn’t be able to support these, so an alternative was needed.
Cash in lieu of housing was decided upon and that meant developing a viability study to assess what that amount should be.
Several meetings and tough negotiations ensued, but we finally reached agreement with the council.
Once this was done we were able to put our plans forward to the next committee meeting.
Read more: How to Get The Planners on Your Side
But with Christmas fast approaching, the next meeting we could be heard at was 31st January 2018 – and the crucial Five Year Land Supply calculations would be coming out in February. If the councils hit their target our plans would be scuppered.
Being novices at this, we didn’t realise at the time that even if we got approval at the committee meeting and the council hit their target before we signed the Section 106 agreement, our plans would be approved and then thrown out. Time was of the essence.
By now we’d spent nearly £100,000 on a chance that we’d get approval and all that we could do was sit and wait – there was nothing more we could do until the 31st January.
Should we speak at the meeting, when should we speak, what should we say? The day came. Off we go to the meeting and our application was up first.
A few pictures were shown, there were several discussions and then things began to take a turn for the worse!
Everyone seemed to be speaking in opposition to our plans. Halfway through, we looked at each other and I whispered that I thought we’d lost it.
Then the mood of the meeting turned and several councillors spoke in favour of self build and the potential beauty of the site.
Read more: The Right to Build Complete Guide
The vote seemed to last as long as the announcers on Strictly – time slowed, there was an audible hush in the room. Eight to one in our favour.
The hairs on the back of my neck are standing up as I write that. That was it, we had approval. Oh no it wasn’t! As we were leaving the chambers, a meeting was quickly announced downstairs.
“Have you got a lawyer to prepare the Section 106?”
“No,” I replied.
“Can you get one today?”
“Yes, I suppose…”
A Section 106 normally takes six months to agree and sign, some have taken two years.
Ours was quite complex – there were several difficult issues – but it only took three weeks! Everyone worked so hard on it; Lanpro, Howes Percival our solicitors, the council and their solicitors NP Law.
We signed it on 21st February 2018. That really was it, we had planning, it was approved, signed and sealed. From first meeting Lanpro with the seed of an idea to here in less than two years.
With the second mountain climbed, we set off for the next one. The first tentative steps was hiring the right teams to design and build the infrastructure, to market and sell the plots. And the most important bit, to design our house.