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When you will need a Feasibility Study

12 January 2018
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Eugene Kim

Table of Contents

agricultural land shot with feasibility stamp for blog on Feasibility Study

One of our enquirers needed a Feasibility Study to build houses on agricultural land in Green Belt near Reigate, Surrey.

What is a Feasibility Study?

Feasibility Studies are usually required for large or contentious projects. The goal is to see if your construction or business plan is feasible by revealing the strong and weak points of a construction or business plan, assessing the practical aspects of the project. It is the act of defining associated problems and positive hopes or chances for a venture, as well as stating alternative options in the event of contention. Weak areas could include environmental or budget issues, whereas strong points could be regarding advantages for the community and prospective business case success and profit.

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New build plot development enquiries require Feasibility Studies.

What needs to be included

Projects will obviously vary but the requirements of a good feasibility report are standard and can be applied as a feasibility study template for all scopes. They should include the following important elements:

  1. Research the only way to substantiate success from the outset. German canoeists swim down new rivers before their inaugural canoe ride, to test the rocks, bends and rapids. This attitude can be applied to everything.
  2. A well-defined project scope. In stating the details well, 50% of the exercise is complete because the planning officers will thoroughly understand the intention. Vagueness can lead to unnecessary refusal, or even post-construction enforcement. This is a common problem where Feasibility Studies either have insufficient or superfluous, irrelevant detail. Therefore conciseness is key. Mention details of business analysis, its nature and end users, as well as whom the funding will be coming from.
  3. Site analysis in its existing state. Good and weak points for current status, which may be conserved if desired. This is important to avoid missed opportunities later. This should be a record of information and not a solution.
  4. The required aim of the project should follow, together with a paragraph on risk management.
  5. The method of construction and stages should come next. Detail briefly how the methodology will address the aims above. Mention technical details and materials in the interest of assessing technical feasibility.
  6. Assessment and appraisal of the financial feasibility and sense of the method above. Mention alternative options here also. Work out the projected cost and present here adjacent to benefits and investment returns or profit, to create a cost-benefit analysis in the interest of the project feasibility.
  7. Reflect on the above points and conduct a review of details with necessary contacts. Collect their signatures to avoid hiccups later regarding fluency with the works.
  8. Summarise the above to enable quick decision on approval, refusal or modification. In the event of a refusal, there should be detailed documentation as to why, as well as brief advice on next steps.
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We can prepare your Feasibility Study.

The above system is actually similar to how we would all proceed with large domestic purchases and is therefore more of a natural and logical thought process, rather than unwelcome red tape. It makes good sense to carry these checks out in order to avoid bad investment and the like. Feasibility Studies are no different, although some people do view them as a waste of time. To take that view erroneous and blindfolded thinking; because we do test things before we buy them. A well-executed Feasibility Study can also act as a guide or model for the next stages (planning, building regs, construction) as well as a reflection tool upon the final phase to compare proposal and delivery.

Some examples of a Feasibility Study

Here are a couple of applications prepared by Extension Architecture, which both required a Feasibility Study at their outsets:

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The Epsom club

This property was a gentlemen’s club and letting facility that was being taken out of service. Some of the members decided to buy it and build new flats. They instructed new build architects Extension Architecture via a comprehensive Feasibility Study. It was clearly a bold move, and happily we helped them gain planning permission via sensitive and sensible design options that included generous parking. This development will provide additional flats for sale in Epsom for new buyers, (as well as some flats to rent in Epsom too.)

To read more on this project, see our portfolio article.

Hall Farm Close, Harrow

New Build Architects: Extension Architecture were instructed to prepare the following Feasibility Study in July 2016. The study was to analyse the existing conditions and to determine the feasibility of the client’s intented proposal to provide 5 x 3-5 bedroom houses in Harrow. It was a backland plot (on a rear garden) of approximately 1 acre within a closed road to the west of Dennis Road. There was a large detached house on the plot, in residential area comprised of mainly detached houses in various sizes and styles. It was not in a Conservation Area but was in Green Belt.

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Map of the plot within Green Belt.

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Green spaces map near the plot.

There was one precedent development nearby, of 7 x two storey detached houses. There is a recreational space to the South of the plot – which could compensate for the loss of Green Belt land – as could a site of importance for nature conservation to the East of the plot, and designated land to the North where Permitted Development rights were withdrawn.

These created favourable conditions as the need for housing was increased. To the South East is an area of special character, which could allow a sympathetic design of housing in that character. Nearby are several tree preservation orders, which again can compensate the proposed loss of Green Belt land.

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Map of nearby Designated Land.

The proposed design would not obstruct protected views, and is in a critical drainage area. These tend to differ from Flood Risk Zones in that they are classed because of their complex infrastructure, whereas Flood Risk Zones are classed because of topographical concerns and the lie of the land. There are Green Spaces and small shops nearby, and it is near the town boundary.

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Map of protected views corridor.

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Map of plot within Critical Drainage area.

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Surrounding Conservation Area.

The recommended advice from the study was to provide varying designs as well as 3D renders to visualise and strengthen the proposal for the planning officers, and to avoid over-development. Also recommended was the pre-app. route, to begin a dialogue to get their opinion, and to optimise the client’s chances for approval later at the main planning phase.

We can help with your Feasibility Study

Extension Architecture can carry out a Feasibility Study, which is usually required for large or contentious projects. Smaller projects may not require an official document, so our planning consultants conduct 15 minutes of free research for you in those cases. Call us for a free quotation regarding your proposed development or home improvement, regardless of the size. Or send your details below and our consultants will call you back. Our team has specialist report writers working with our architectural designers and planning consultants. With us you can have a ‘one-stop shop’. This means you can save time; reduce your fees; get the best chances of obtaining planning permission with your first application. You can also maximise the value of your property or land, because we can guide you on what can be achieved as the maximum feasible development.

You can boost your application with our Immersive Design Package: we create 3D walkthroughs which show the scale and convince planning officers that the massing will blend and not be bulky. They also show that the aesthetic design is in character with neighbouring properties. In addition, our planning consultants apply for more square meterage, because they know the strategies and policies needed. They can also add a planning statement to fortify your application. Our team of architectural designers create first-class sections, elevations and plans for you, whilst making a strong creative statement. Later, at the pre-build stage, they can create building regulations drawings for you. Finally, at the construction stage, our project managers can support you with tender packs and contract ad-ministration, if needed.

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Eugene Kim

Eugene Kim, Founder and Managing Director of Extension Architecture, has led the firm for over 14 years, consistently delivering quality solutions. His dedication has been key to the company's growth and success.

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