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What is a Viability Assessment and why might I need one?

A Viability Assessment is a professional report which considers all the values and costs related with a development. A Local Planning Authority may request an Affordable Housing Viability Assessment to consider why a lower level of affordable housing contribution or provision may be provided for a planning application.


Viability Assessments are complex reports, but here are FIVE things you’ll need to consider if you’re thinking of getting a Viability Assessment.


1.    What is the Council’s policy?

The first thing to check is the Local Planning Authority’s planning policies to see whether a Viability Assessment is really what you need. This can include checking whether the policy refers to a net or gross number of dwellings or seeing whether the threshold is different at your site, as some authorities have different thresholds in different locations.


If you are seeking an initial review of a development, it may be useful to consider an Economic Optimization Appraisal prior to submitting an application to the Council. You can find out more about these reports and how they can assist your development here.


2.    Existing Land Value

One of the main considerations within a Viability Assessment is the current value of the site. This can include considerations such as if the site already has planning permission or is allocated for a development, however a key component of any assessment is the Existing Land Value – what is the site currently worth?


VP’s Viability Assessments include an in-house assessment of the Existing Use Value within all of our Viability Assessments.


3.    Gross Development Value

The next key consideration is the value of the site after completion of the development, this is known as the Gross Development Value. VP’s assessments include a comprehensive review of the proposed development and assessment of the Gross Development Value.


As we look to the future and the prospective Infrastructure Levy, an evaluation of the Gross Development Value shall become increasingly more important.


4.    Build Costs

A full evaluation of the development costs is essential within any Viability Assessment and, oftentimes, the Build Costs is one of the more substantial bills to consider!


At VP, we appreciate that the cost of building materials is increasing enormously, and this is one of the main factors which makes many developments unviable. In order to ensure your development is not skewed by these costs, it’s important to ensure all costs and values in any assessment are up to date.


5.    Is my application an aggregate development?

An application can sometimes be considered to form part of an aggregate development when it is considered to be part of a wider site and or wider development. This can come as a surprise to applicants as this can change the threshold or requirement expected of an application, oftentimes to a larger amount.


In such cases, it is essential to provide a comprehensive review of the values and costs of the wider scheme for the Council to consider within their evaluation of an application.


Interested in learning more?

Here at VP, we specialise in Viability Assessments, including Affordable Housing Viability Assessments, and would be more than happy to assist. We have experience with independent assessments for applicants and developers and also reviewing assessments, which Councils will need to do to ensure the numbers stack up!


If you’d like more support in assisting you with a specific scheme, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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