A Guide to Plot Viewing You might think that once you have found a plot to build on the search

is over, but viewing the plot is an important part of the journey and can send you all the way back to square one. Daisy Jeffery guides you through the viewing process so that you can be completely sure before you buy. Once you have found a potential plot, it is important to consider the following — do you like it, is it where you want to live, and could you envisage realising your dreams here? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then you are ready to get down to the business of viewing. First Viewing This first viewing of the plot will concentrate on whether it is the right size, in the right location and for the right price. Be sure to drive around the area to get a feel for the surroundings, walk around, and approach the plot from all angles — in doing so, you will gain a different perspective of the site and be alert to any aspect of the surrounding area that may be unsuitable. It is important to go in with an open mind when viewing the plot. Look past the mess on site and imagine the completed home. In doing this, you can also realise things that others perhaps would not; for instance could the plot benefit from two new builds instead of one, which you would be able to sell on for profit? Second Viewing Going back a second time shows you are starting to think seriously. If possible, try and visit the plot on your own so that you have chance to take time thinking matters over without anyone trying to sway your opinion. Be aware that on second glance, you may notice things that you perhaps missed. Do your research on property prices in the area to gauge whether you are striking a fair deal too. A look around the neighbourhood to assess the local vernacular would also be wise — this will give you a basis to work your design plans off in order for them to be favourable with the planners. If your ideal home is in stark contrast to all the neighbouring properties, it might be best to search for a plot elsewhere. You also need to factor in practicalities like access and services. If site access is difficult consider how this could affect your build. With regards to services, most estate agents devolve responsibility here. In some cases it will only take a quick look to ensure services are in place, but if they are not, it is up to you to establish what your options would be. Decision Time If after the viewing process you are still keen on the plot, it is time to talk planning permission.

After all, without planning permission a piece of land is not a 'plot'. How to find a plot of land for sale Buying a plot of land with a view to building your dream home can bring some unique challenges, from locating the perfect site to planning permission and other legalities. We takes a closer look at the ins and outs.

When it comes to finding building plots and land for sale these days, it can sometimes be easier said than actually done. Land can be snapped up so swiftly by keen developers that actually getting any hint of a site becoming available in the first instance can be a big bonus.

According to property specialists Strutt and Parker, around 70 per cent of land coming on to the current market is brownfield - land that is or was occupied by a permanent structure that has become vacant, underused or derelict, and has redevelopment potential - and 30 per cent is greenfield - undeveloped land, such as parks and recreational grounds. This available land, owned by a range of individuals, companies and land speculators, can prove a worthwhile investment for those looking to build a new home. So where to start?

How Do I Find Land For Sale? When looking to purchase land for development, there are many routes to finding your ideal plot. These include some of the following options:

Estate Agents Although largely in the business of selling ready-built properties, many estate agents occasionally have building land on their books too. And even if they don't have anything suitable, it can be worth making the enquiry and leaving your details. Estate agents often have great contacts from within the building trades, property developers, investment clients and so on - any of which could lead to news of a potential land sale. If you are looking to liaise with an accredited agent in your area, contact the National Association of Estate Agents (opens in a new window) (NAEA), the UK's leading professional body for estate agency with over 10,000 members.

Land Agents Land agents operate in the same manner as estate agents, but deal solely with building plots and land, with or without planning permission. The agents who purely trade in land are far

and few between, but as specialists in their field, could offer more promise to the potential land buyer than the average estate agency. Recommended land agents include: www.vantageland.co.uk (opens in a new window) www.cluttons.com (opens in a new window) www.robinsonhall.co.uk (opens in a new window)

On The Internet Today there are numerous sites on the web that offer a plot search facility, and allow you to sift through a large and extensive database of land currently for sale. Certain sites even include aerial pictures and all the necessary details. Private sellers of land often use databases of this nature as they don't have to pay to advertise on it. Recommended online databases include: www.building-plot.org.uk (opens in a new window) www.plotfinder.net (opens in a new window) www.uklandsearch.com (opens in a new window)

Advertisements It can be worth scanning all the local newspapers and notice boards in your preferred area for any potential land sales. Finding an advertisement can be unpredictable, but once in a while, private sellers may place adverts for a direct sale. Alternatively, placing an advertisement declaring you are looking for land to purchase in the area may pay dividends if you can secure a plot not yet on the market. Auctions Land auctions can be a source of cheap land for sale. Often advertising in local publications, the land for sale through auction is often the result of bankruptcy, so a quick sale is essential. However, as with any auction, it can be easy to become carried away and pay over the odds, so tread carefully. And land auctions are not without risk and often work largely on a sold-asseen basis. You should ensure the plot is exactly what you are after before the auction.

Personal Search It is possible the local council may have land for sale, so making tentative enquiries may well provide a lead. And why not drive around your preferred area to see if any plots are available - some may be blatant - with the ideal 'Land for sale' signage - but others may not be so

and other issues. Once any sale is complete. A Replacement Build This option is growing in popularity more and more . The Royal Town Planning Institute has recently called for developers that are slow to build homes on land. Even land obviously already owned by potential developers may be viable. the solicitor will also protect your outlay by making sure the new ownership is fully registered at the Land Registry. There could be viable plots of land as part of large gardens or land with derelict buildings on. from evaluating the potential to discussing any concerns you may have. to rebuild is often more gainful than renovating. The institute believes such a levy is needed to discourage developers putting off building work. instructing a reputable surveyor to assess the land is vital. and make all the necessary enquiries with the local authority for you.straightforward. This can involve much more than reading the contract. But. let's examine any initial concerns.it also covers practicalities such as whether the road serving the property should be maintained by the council.and the property doesn't have to be derelict for it to be a financially viable venture. Demolition is surprisingly cost-effective From the outset. A hand writing Any solicitor worth their salt will help you ensure the plot you favour is completely suitable for your eventual development plans. so keeping an open mind. Can You Build On It? Are you buying a plot of land which has no existing planning permission? Or does the site have outline planning permission (OPP) attached to it? Perhaps it has detailed planning permission (DPP) . Finding A Plot Of Land For Sale. They can advise on all aspects of the site. They should carry out a local authority search on the land.which we will come to shortly . A good independent solicitor will check the paperwork. whatever the condition. should be actively taxed .to discourage them from manipulating the property market. before we jump ahead to the final step. Many self builders find removing an existing property. and making polite discreet enquiries could bring positive results. which along with finding out about any planning permissions on the property .particularly in sought-after areas where land can be at a premium .sometimes known as full planning permission? . on which they have already gained planning permission for.

Building must commence within two years. but the buyer has three years during which they must submit the reserved matters application. Complex information is not required for the OPP application so when describing the kind of development being proposed. though some will just to prevent minor problems developing into bigger issues at a later date. Your architect should be able to guide you in the process. together with a one-line description of the development proposal. it's vital to check the wording of the approval. . otherwise the entire process begins again. explain it simply and keep it to the main point. extent of development and construction of the new dwelling. for example they may enquire how the site is to be drained. in areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). is all that's required. For an OPP. If the plot has both OPP and reserved matters consent. which may prevent you from building your dream dwelling. Some local authorities will request additional information. the ability to connect to services outside the plot. but the type of property is yet to be approved. The necessary paperwork is available from your local authority planning department together with guidance notes to help you complete them. and even materials used in the process. An OPP approval only refers to the site and not to the person seeking it. Particularly important are the legalities concerning rights of neighbouring land and property owners are involved. Detailed planning permission (DPP) has all the in-depth information submitted in a single application. Once the OPP has been granted. The OPP and the approved reserved matters application together equal DPP. All other aspects can be reviewed at the detailed design stage. or next to listed buildings are practically always sold with completed detailed planning permission. it is valid for up to five years. any existing rights of way. Plots in conservation areas. and the design restrictions. This includes the size of the property.Land sold with an existing OPP basically allows a new building to be constructed. Bear in mind that approval could exist without certain important issues being resolved. all access and landscaping. the design and layout. DPP is common where the proposed development is somewhat controversial. This includes any conditions attached which may restrict the design. And the DPP is only valid for five years from the date of consent. the orientation. The local authority does not have a duty to follow this premature course of enquiry. a plainly drawn site-plan. These are all contained in what is known as a reserved matters application and this follows after the OPP has been received. However it is possible to just proceed with a DPP application.

they don't necessarily rely on them for the final verdict. there can be constraints in the planning permission. Most authorities will welcome this and should offer constructive advice to assist you in submitting any application. In fact. New developments must make a positive contribution to the character of the area. The authorities may also require off-street parking and room to turn your vehicle to prevent reversing into a main road. This should give reasonable space for an average size dwelling with room around the property. although they may take note of a representative's comments. The planning authorities can impose a condition limiting the development to a single storey or stipulating a maximum size for the dwelling. In view of this. and may advise on amending the plans to quash an earlier decision. full details of the proposal and examples of materials and colour. and not any surrounding land. This can mean the submission of elevations of adjacent buildings. which should be accompanied by a design statement. The planning representative is likely to be aware of any previously unsuccessful applications relating to the site. When it comes to the design and type of any new development. It is vital to ask your solicitor to check these issues if you feel any possible neighbouring development may affect your site eventually. But. It is worth noting the initial local authority search against the site will only cover that plot. whether the representative's comments are good or bad. Usually only a fully detailed planning application will be considered. It will be the council's planning committee that makes the decision and. At this stage. . Therefore the search will not show any planning permissions or matters affecting land or buildings outside the boundaries of the property. Building plots for sale should be at least one tenth of an acre in size. so examine any existing permission thoroughly. the type of area and the local housing style. they are not at all definitive. go over it with a fine tooth comb! The local authority has the power to require a very high standard of design which is sympathetic to the existing environment.Submitting The Application It is a good idea for all involved to arrange a meeting with a local authority planning representative on-site. your council can require additional information in support of any planning application showing how the proposal will relate to the conservation area. you should have a clear indication about the likely outcome of making a formal planning application.

and if this is not the case. Trees can often be a problem on a new development. then meet the neighbours to assess where the boundaries are. or that a reduction in the price is made to cover the cost of such negotiations. pollution or any type of contamination. which could protect certain property. And then there are tree protection orders. Neighbours are often a useful source of information. particularly if they have lived in their home for some time. A flood plain Where Can You Build On It? Is the plot on a local flood plain? Is there a nearby river? Is there a stream close to the site? Are they likely to burst their banks at any stage? The ground may be dry on your site visit. A specialist will be able to test the plot and advise you accordingly. Having a new development nearby can occasionally aggravate even the calmest of neighbours.this information could well affect the layout of the plots. giving protection from removal and alteration. And consulting the local authority can also produce valuable historical information. as you want to make sure this sort of problem is sorted out by the seller. Also on the list could be the protection of wildlife. These could include conservation areas. It may be necessary to instruct a specialist to ensure the plot is not affected by flooding. but what will happen during a long periods of wet weather? The ground conditions are important as this will form the foundations of any new property. walls and fences etc. but you may wish to check with the council at an early stage . You should always need to be completely clear about where the exact boundaries are . which will safeguard indigenous creatures to the site. This information will be shown on your local authority search. it probably goes without saying that land which already has some form of planning permission will be of a much higher value than land without. How Much Should I Pay? Exactly how can you judge if you are getting a good deal on land? To begin with. There may be covenants to any planning permission and you will need to consider other regulations and consents when building. . Obviously always do this before you purchase any land. so you will need to check which .trees are affected by a tree preservation order.if any .Finding A Plot Of Land For Sale.

It is because they will not compromise. which often influence the asking price of any site. Includes advice on land agencies. which can provide information on prices and planning policy from across the country. Keep an open mind The main reason that people fail to purchase a plot is not that they fail to find any potential sites. it is about location. First things first . then be prepared for a long wait. land banking and more. small builders. The VOA provide property market reports twice a year and there is a special section on residential building land. estate agents. visit the website of the Valuation Office Agency (opens in a new window) (VOA). Also. land situated close to a quickly expanding town will command a higher price in expectation of its future building potential. Before you start looking. certainly. bear in mind transport links. Although countryside tranquillity may appeal to many people. such as London and the South East.in order to find a building plot you are up against some fierce competition — other self-builders. The worth of land for sale is directly related to the current housing market. and will accept nothing less than their dream plot. None of these suggestions are a guarant-eed route to a site. location. think carefully about what you really need but also what you could do without. try as many of them as you can manage. For the best chance of success.Finding A Plot Of Land For Sale. If you cannot compromise on anything. planning departments. but also full-time ‘land finders’. land prices close to main commuter links such as motorways and railway stations are much more popular than rural plots. . demand more per acre than their cheaper counterparts. although some are easier to follow than others. Finding a Building Plot: A Complete Guide The complete plot finding guide. As always. which in many cases simply does not exist. A roll of banknotes Then consider the regional variations. To examine what you should be paying in closer detail. location. so it follows that land in sought after regions. and all the vested interests of the development industry. Furthermore.

Click here to view more videos on Homebuilding TV Study Maps Using Google Maps and even Streetview is a huge boost to the armoury of the would-be selfbuilder looking for plots. modern design are. slim. your resources will be spread too thinly. Even if you are looking in your own neighbourhood. sadly. you may be surprised by what you find out with a little research. Know your area At the start of your search. You'll be able to identify gaps in the streetscene. if you have a firm idea of the character of the house you want to build.If you have some very rigid requirements about where you want to live. small bungalows on large bits of land. then you should be more flexible regarding the location. Sometimes even the people selling a property may not realise that they have a potential building plot on their hands. For example. and potential backland plots. by widening the choice of plots. it may not be out of the question to demolish it and replace it with a new house. if you want to live in a classic English village. you improve your chances of achieving your main goal. even the professionals. If you can compromise and match your desired build style to your dream location. If an existing property is in a very poor state. villages or suburbs. the constraints imposed by the the available sites may dictate what type of house you will build. this might also qualify for the same treatment. If you find a rela-tively small house on a large plot. If you pick too large an area at the start. the chances of getting planning approval for an innovative. you need to focus in on selected towns. To be effective. Sometimes a plot with a solitary bungalow on it can be replaced by several two storey houses. you need to familiarise yourself with the area. all of which are ripe for redevelopment. . or structurally damaged. and gather as much information on it as possible. On the other hand.

there is no reason why you should not make a polite approach. if someone spots it early enough. Either way. A plot will not usually be advertised for sale until the planning approval has been granted. What you are looking for is recent applications. What this means is that you can walk into any planning department and ask to see the Planning Register. either by letter or telephone. Many councils now publish them on their websites. in which all the applications and decisions (where they have been reached) are recorded. Visit planning departments If anyone wishes to get planning approval to build on a piece of land. and offer a good range of sites in different areas. no detailed drawings). They will also give you an idea of how much land is coming on to the market. If an approval has not come through. but there are some specialist agencies – such as Homebuilding & Renovating's plotfinder. and. with a full design. because there is no point in getting a detailed set of plans drawn up which may be changed by a purchaser. they can make an approach before many others are even aware that it is going to be for sale. the owners of the plot.net – that collect information from private individuals selling land and estate agents and make it available to subscribers to the service. they are usually. make a note of the applicant’s details and approach them directly. they must submit an application. so much the better.Use land listing agencies There is not yet a service that collects planning data in a format suitable for people who are hunting for a single plot to build their own home. They are a useful starting point. These can save you a lot of legwork. If you find a likely application.e. though not always. because this enhances the value. which then becomes a matter of public record. preferably outline (i. . If the application is for outline approval there is a good chance that they are planning to sell. for single houses. and at the very least will help you to identify those agents who are active in selling land in your target areas. But sometimes they may have obtained detailed approval. probably because the planners have insisted on it. and at what sort of price.

if possible. the developer will usually submit plans for the least controversial option in order to get the outline planning approval. Local agents. visit them as well. and there are usually at least one or two in a given area who will be willing to help. and.How to find a plot red brick house Pester estate agents and go to auctions Despite being the most obvious professionals to go to when looking for land. If you are going to sell your house and then rent while you search for a plot. Phone them regularly. because. When turning pieces of spare land into building plots. they are also likely to be the agent who gets the commission on the sale of the newly built house. The commission to be earned on land is not as attractive as that for houses. The aim is to try to get into that magic drawer in every agent’s office: the one with the list of ‘hot’ clients. The reality is that you may well be able to upgrade this planning approval to the kind of house you want. Tell friends and family . and many agents – especially the large chains – have no interest in selling land. who will get first crack at any good properties the agent is offered. So don’t just leave your details with them and expect them to call you as soon as they hear of some land that may be of interest. are the most likely to have something of interest on their list. These are often bungalows or small houses. Ignore the current plans Your dream plot may currently have planning permission for a house you would never consider building. try to chose one of those agents who do sell land. like a local builder. Unfortunately. not all estate agents will be able to help you. apart from oiling the wheels of their business network. or those which run auctions. a few less-scrupulous agents would rather sell the land to someone with whom they have an ongoing relationship.

more your competitors. Befriend builders Builders are not your natural allies when it comes to finding land. in the fullness of time. for a bargain price. usually add a condition that you have to use them to build the new house. the land may eventually get planning approval. The catch is that there is no planning approval. Beware landbanking There are a few people prepared to exploit desperate. it probably never will. The truth is usually that although the land may get approval one day. and may be prepared to sell you something from their ‘land bank’. just waiting to be used: their relatives and acquaintances. These companies offer what are apparently prime potential plots. business and social life knows that you are looking for some land. Make sure that everyone you know in your family. regardless of . But there are some circumstances in which they may want to help you. because if you agree to it before you have detailed plans and specifications you will find that the construction cost is very high. for maximum profit and minimum outlay. and every extra above the standard requirements may be charged at the highest possible rate. This is a serious drawback. and you have wasted your money. It is suggested that.net for details as they emerge. or a new community of self-built homes planned by a council. perhaps because of cash-flow problems. A classic kind of plot for a one-off house is found in the garden of an existing property. If you are considering taking up one of these offers get independent advice first. whereby enabling developers and councils release land for large-scale self-build. however. Look out for custom build schemes in your area Hundreds of plots are beginning to come to market through the custom build route.Most people already have a valuable source of help for finding a site. Check out plotfinder. Sometimes a small builder will not want the risk of developing a site. so check out as many gardens as you can for this potential. and you will then own a prime building plot. as well as this site and the Government's main self-build information site. They will. unworldly plot hunters and relieve them of their money. These may be a handful of plots on the edge of a new development.

for one) or builders. and sell them on to self-builders. unless they are a generous relative. some connected to kit suppliers (Border Oak. Use self-build companies and architects There are a few companies. There are a series of good guides around. several of these companies will actually refuse to deal with you if you try and take independent advice as to the viability of these sites — which should be all the warning you need. Study the local plan . because the profit is far bigger. backed by big money from developers who will risk significant capital to acquire the rights to future development land long before it becomes available — sometimes decades in advance. but which may not suit your particular requirements. There is a huge army of seasoned experts out looking for ‘the real thing’. If anyone offers you a bargain plot. but will build their own housing development. split them into individual properties.how attractive it seems. make sure that you get independent expert advice before signing on the dotted line. Use professional land finders Large developers use professional land finders. Check whether you are tied into using a particular firm if you buy a plot. Unfortunately. Even if you agree to this. who can sometimes be found in the Yellow Pages. So don’t expect much help from this quarter. If this is the only way you can get a site in the right area. This is now usually referred to as 'landbanking'. from the Land Registry and on the FSA website. because they can take the same time to find as a small one like the one you are looking for. think again. they may find a lot of good sites which are suitable for building a house on and making a profit. who buy up larger sites. The hard truth is that these bona fide organisations are not going to sell this land to you. unless you agree to pay a significant percentage of the land price in commission. But there is an economy of scale for big sites.

Use the paper proactively — take out an advertisement for ‘Building Plot Wanted’ and play up your credentials as private individuals looking for a nice quiet place to live. It is a long process contacting all of them. organisations and companies that own land and sell some off periodically — they include the railway management body. it can give useful information on sites that may be released for development in the future. and district and county councils. It is a useful document. plot hunter illustration What to look for When you are out scouting an area. but if you can keep abreast of the local and regional news. keener self-builders may well have beaten you to the best opportunities. prepare maps and plans of their area that identify which locations are suitable for new development. and can be browsed at the reception of the planning department. People would often rather sell a plot to someone they can choose as a neighbour rather than a builder. At any given time. Once you start thinking like this. traditional landowners like the Duchy of Cornwall.Local authority planning departments. the coal authority. a revision of the Local Plan is usually in progress and. you may discover one of them is offering parcels of land. This information is published in the form of the Local Plan. giving the background to planning policy. and the rules that will be used to govern infill sites. These are some of the clues that you should look for: . universities. if it is going to replace the existing one fairly soon. Estate Departments There are all sorts of institutions. Read and use the local paper Ensure that you get the local paper (often the weekly free sheet is as effective as the daily) on the day it comes out — otherwise other. in association with national government and county councils. stopping and walking through a village while you are on holiday will never be the same again — potential building plots loom up on every road. you can train yourself to spot opportunities.

If there is a big back garden. and especially if it has easy access to the road. it may be possible to build at the bottom of it. and a bit of business acumen. or a scrap yard as the site for a beautiful home. but together could be big enough. and access for vehicles to get to it down the side of the house. or next to. but they all could be. that is spending far more money on a house than you could ever sell it for. These are very easy to miss. but it has been done — particularly when the homeowners realise that a small bit of their garden can earn them some money. subject to planning approval. patience. Sometimes sites that are apparently too narrow can be used to squeeze in a small house. a disused industrial unit. Narrow gaps that are not overlooked. It is usually easier to get planning approval for development in between. provided that the access or windows of the houses either side are not affected. so there must be a way of reaching it by car. it is a potential plot. If you see a number of gardens that are too small for a house. Vehicle access. It needs tact. If there is space beside a house. there are several rules to follow: . will have to have parking space. take a leaf from the professional developer’s book and consider assembling your own site. Site assembly. that is building too small a house and failing to realise the full potential of the site. existing houses. unless it is near a city or town centre. Disused land and brownfield sites. The way that houses are valued means that it is less economic to develop a house that is massively disproportionate to those surrounding it. Whatever land you find. Look for houses of a similar size and quality to the one you wish to build. You can end up over-developing. How to scout for a site If you want to find a potential site that no one has thought of selling yet.Large gaps between and behind houses. a telephone exchange. or under-developing. It takes a lot of imagination to see a petrol-filling station.

Buy a map that shows houses. location and size. The family who looked for a plot for years. . to his best friend from school. after you have visited several one after the other. The couple who got planning policy changed so they could build in their garden. in order to ensure that you cover them thoroughly. A couple who built their house along the long driveway to their parents’ house. Talk to locals. found out about each other and ended up buying a triple plot together. An architect who gave up on his search. thanks to a petition signed by everyone in their village. Three work colleagues who were looking separately. If anybody seems helpful. you may miss the less-obvious sites. Take photographs if possible. then demolished the bungalow they were living in and built a large house. went to the local pub. Some real examples of how ‘having friends and influencing people’ can get you a site: The doctor who bought a garden belonging to a frail elderly patient. The man who would only sell part of his garden. for instance two or three villages or areas of a town. Note the address. asking the owner to contact you if they are interested in selling. and draw sketch plans. Visit the local pubs and shops. leave a contact address or telephone number.Select a few key areas. and was promptly told about an ideal plot. if you drive. These details will help you to remember which site is which. Walk around your chosen areas since. You will be able to use this map to record where potential plots are. a prime plot for a house. Always be polite and never be ‘pushy’ — people are often suspicious of anyone who makes this kind of approach.000. and ask if anyone knows of any land for sale. Methodically take details of sites. Deliver standard letters to houses adjacent to potential building land. for instance OS Pathfinders show houses at 1:25. so she could keep her medical advisor close to hand. Does Your Plot Have Access Issues? In order to become a building plot a site needs access — in most areas that means vehicular access. Limit your search to these key areas.

A new access will not be allowed if it involves vehicles entering or leaving the carriageway close to a junction. to cross any pavement. on a sharp corner or at a blind spot. If this gap has been purposely created as a ransom strip. As a self-builder. this is normally granted as part of the planning approval. their consent will only come following payment and you should do all you can to ensure that any such payment is at the expense of the vendors.In some urban or city areas. If access is required to a trunk or classified road. you again won’t need permission. If they require the action or approval of third parties. . and it is entirely possible that any works will have to be carried out by an approved contractor. you do not need permission to form the entrance. Access to a Public Highway Most people think that access directly onto a public highway is preferable. then the consent of the Highways Agency or local authority responsible for the maintenance of the road will be required. drainage and the position of gates. with that consent containing further stipulations that have to be fulfilled before the permission is operable. but more often than not. it might be acceptable or even desirable to have pedestrian access only. You will need the consent of Highways. as long as it is not a trunk or classified road. you must take particular care to ensure that these conditions are capable of being satisfied within your remit. then their consent must be obtained. including those concerning gradients. They will also stipulate the construction of the crossover and the details of the dropped kerbs. but there are a few considerations: If you directly adjoin the highway then. If the new entrance is allowed it will be subject to conditions. the requirement for vehicular access is a pre-condition for the granting of planning permission. or other relevant parties. as long as it is not a trunk or classified road and a new access won’t be dangerous. If the access will cross a grassed verge then. then it is important to make sure that there are contracts in place and that any payments necessary are taken into account when agreeing the purchase price. If there is a gap between the proposed site and the highway in the ownership of a third party.

you would pay for any remedial works following construction. Infill plots may also be required to share the existing driveway with the original house. Prescriptive Easements . If the access road has no traceable owners. Rights of access should include the right to bring services into the plot. the costs would usually be borne by the developer — you. if a majority so declare. This requires that the works are carried out by a single body and that a bond is taken out to cover any necessary remedial works. then you would be wise to consider a Single Premium Indemnity Policy with the costs hopefully being defrayed by the vendor.If the road will serve a number of homes. once completed. The documentation should clearly set out joint maintenance responsibilities. However. require its adoption by the local authority. then you must make sure that the right of way is applicable to the new house. Responsibility for future maintenance of a shared private roadway should be decided and set down within a legal framework. Shared Driveways Backland plots may have to share a driveway with the house in front. Terms should preclude any parking that might impede the access of the other party. the costs of bringing the road. Those enjoying access via an unadopted road can. its sewers and lighting up to adoption standards would be borne by each of the residents. Access to an Unadopted Road Many plots have access onto private roads that have access to the adopted highway: If a plot is part of the garden of a house that has a right of access over private land. But bear in mind: The right of way should be clearly set out in the transfer documentation. If the right of way specifically identifies a house by name or number then it is possible that this right can’t be passed onto the new property. Similarly. If additional works are required to bring the driveway up to a standard capable of serving the other house. then the authorities may require that it and the drains beneath it – together with any street lighting – are constructed to Highways standards and that. they are formally adopted.

setting out minimum road and gateway widths.5m from the carriageway and open inwards Usually. requiring space for turning You may have to consider creating a temporary access for construction traffic. It is not possible to establish such a right over land owned by British Waterways. which must be able to enter or leave the property in a forward gear. without secrecy and without explicit consent. they can create a lot of issues. And remember this. it must have been continuous for a period of 20 years or more (although a break of one year is allowed for) and must have been obtained without force. as well as provide hardstanding for offloading Part B5 of the Building Regulations requires access for a fire engine. David Snell tackles problematic trees and difficult ground conditions. trees in a forest for plot problems Dealing with Trees . and turn space Did you know? You are likely to need to hire an approved contractor to carry out works to the highway — always check with your local authority Plots: When Nature Gets in the Way While it is often the plot’s natural attributes that make it so appealing.. there should be allowance for two cars to be parked. The right can only attach to a Freeholder and must not be illegal.5-6.If a property has enjoyed an unrestricted right of way over land in the ownership of others. Railways land or Crown land. Gates normally require a 45º splay and must be set back 4. This right is granted by application to the Land Registry.. then a right of way can be established by long usage. However.

This extends to pruning. Yet. during which time the authority can decide whether or not to ratify it and make it permanent. creating problems both on and off site. A planning consent may also include a condition requiring a tree-planting scheme and a further condition may go on to give the resultant trees additional protection right up to and including placing a TPO on the proposed trees. Any flouting of a TPO. Network Rail land. during which time it can decide to issue a TPO in the normal way. it can issue an interim order. This will have the same effect as a full TPO and last for six months. trees can be a difficult accompaniment to a home. If there is no TPO on a tree and a proposal to remove it is brought to the attention of the local authority. they can issue a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). In a Conservation Area any work to fell.Most houses and bungalows not only share their plots with trees but owe much of their attractiveness to their presence. including harming a tree by chemical means. British Waterways land and Highways land are exempt and cannot be the subject of a TPO. together with a requirement to replace the tree. if they feel that a tree or group of trees is endangered. including lopping or felling them. Commercial trees for fruit or other purposes are similarly exempt. lop or prune a tree requires that six weeks’ notice in writing is given to the local authority. Issues with Foundations . Tree Preservation Orders Any application that involves the felling or lopping of trees will attract greater attention from the planners and. A TPO means that it is illegal to do anything that would harm the tree or trees. where only authorised work that will specifically enhance the tree or trees and improve their appearance or health is allowed. A consent may also include details of just how existing trees will be protected during construction works. without the express consent of the local authority. Local authorities have other means of propagating and protecting trees: Trees can be protected by inserting a condition within a planning consent. can result in prosecution and an unlimited fine. Trees on Crown land.

the clay at deeper levels will absorb that moisture and expand. with little or no injurious effect. or resorting to a pile and ring beam foundation. In serious cases. can have the same effect and is notoriously difficult to eradicate. especially if they are removed. is unstoppable and strong enough to break foundations. The solution is to construct the foundations in such a way as to negate the pressures. Incidentally Japanese knotweed. This can be serious and. underpinning may be necessary. causing subsidence. that once you’ve built your home. Some trees have very invasive roots that can actually crack concrete foundations and it may be necessary to construct a root barrier between the tree and the home. That doesn’t mean that you have the right to demand their felling. The NHBC has tables showing the distances that each species of tree ceases to have an effect on foundations. if they cease to do so. Roots beneath foundations can rot. Other People’s Trees Chances are that if you have problems with the planners over the trees on your site. either by taking the concrete foundations deeper and lining the trench with a compressible material. leading to settlement. leaving voids. This is because trees take inordinate amounts of moisture from the subsoil and. In drought conditions. This expansion.Although planners and many people like the idea of living in houses close to trees. Remember. bearing in mind the nature of the subsoil and the rainfall patterns of the region. trees can remove moisture from the subsoil and this. Trees on your neighbours’ land may affect your foundations. if it persists. In many cases this means that mature trees should not be closer than 30 metres without some form of remedial foundation design. trees cause immense problems. an invasive alien species. they can undoubtedly cause structural problems. even in otherwise stable conditions. In heavy clay situations. . known as ‘heave’. however. the solution may have to be underpinning. Trees such as willow are frightfully good at detecting water and nutrients and they are quite capable of inserting a small pilot root into a drain and then expanding and blocking that drain. can lead to the ground shrinking beneath the foundations. it’s the neighbours who instigated them. Older houses are probably better able to withstand this onslaught than modern houses as they are more flexible in their construction. you’ll probably be just as protective of the trees that complement it. But it does mean that responsibility for negating their effects is yours. die or are otherwise weakened. which heal up in the winter. and it is possible for a house to have ‘summer cracks’.

on or in close proximity to your property. It may mean that a piled and ring beam foundation solution has to be employed.If a neighbour’s trees blow down in a hurricane. so long as it’s consistent. The differential settlement that would . the trenches fill up with water and become either unstable or impossible to work within. then you have the right to lop off any overhanging branches. The problem is that it is often associated with clay and it’s entirely possible for a seam of chalk to underlie clay with the chalk seam diving down almost vertically out of reach of any reasonable foundations. in most cases the solution is to use a trench fill foundation where the trenches are filled to within 200mm of the top. they may well be liable for the damage caused to your property and their household insurance policy will cover them for their public liability. Chalk Possibly the best foundation one can experience. Rocky Ground This can present problems with digging foundations. If a neighbour’s tree(s) encroach upon your land. If you identify their trees as dangerous beforehand. However. they must take the appropriate action. then they in turn may be liable for any damage caused. as soon as they are dug. Adverse Ground Conditions Ground conditions are going to vary from site to site and the most common problem types to be found are set out below. Loose shale may present other problems with the trench sides not holding and there may also be an ingress of water. High Water Tables These can affect construction because as fast as one digs. But be aware that it is possible to encounter more than one ground condition within a site. If a local authority insists on the retention of a tree that is dangerous. With stable rock it may sometimes be necessary to cut out slots prior to concreting and this may need specialist machinery. otherwise they might find themselves personally liable for any damage caused. The solution is normally to trench fill. It has good bearing and good drainage.

If a tree is removed or damaged then it will cease to take moisture from the subsoil and the dry clay will take on that moisture and expand. where the ground will then rise to the detriment of any foundations. tiles or pottery in the spoil. or a reinforced concrete raft. particularly if combined with the presence of trees. The solution is first and foremost deep trench fill foundations.be experienced by having part of the property founded on chalk and part on clay may mean especially designed foundations are required. In other areas where the clay has a high plasticity. it will normally have to be dug out. Clay In many areas. Trees take vast amounts of moisture from the subsoil and clay has a propensity to increase in volume when it is wet. The solution is normally a pile and ring beam foundation. where it is relatively friable. This is impossible to dig and the solution may be a pile and ring beam foundation. This is difficult to build upon because there is no consistency of bearing. Peat The peat may be extremely deep and due to its propensity to shrink on a seasonal basis when it dries out. Where a site has been ‘made up’ with imported material. provides unsuitable bearing. it is not a problem. . it is known as a filled site. This causes ‘heave’. The solution is either a pile and ring beam or a raft foundation. But there is a limit to how deep they can go and. at some stage. Coal If coal or any other organic and combustible material is found in the foundations. the solution may be to swap to a pile and ring beam foundation. Made Up or Filled Ground An indicator may be broken bricks. it can present difficulties. Sandy Soils These may present problems with the trench sides collapsing. mixed with sand or gravel. Certain types of sand are known as ‘running sand’. where the sand is waterlogged and has the consistency of treacle.

the local authority. there is no certainty of this. The solution is often a reinforced raft foundation. Negotiation to replace a tree or trees. then the local authority may well be liable for compensation. which would result in the necessity to fell trees. If planning permission is granted on land and the local authority was to subsequently impose a TPO that had the effect of making the consent inoperable. Radon Gas In many areas – particularly where the under lying rock is granite – a naturally occurring radioactive gas can seep up to the surface. such as mining. unless the local authority is in agreement with any necessary felling or replacement. probably at the prompting of locals. allowing buildups of gas beneath the floor to escape harmlessly. If there are no TPOs on the land and an application is made for planning permission. They are assisted in their endeavours by a huge body of public opinion that acts to inform them of any ill that is being carried out or proposed to trees and they are backed up by quite draconian powers of intervention.Geological Faults In some cases. although the ground within foundation depth has good bearing. If you plan to make an application on land that has trees on it. may well be successful.ed concrete floor or beam and block floor. With a suspend . but to enhance the local area by a requirement for tree planting to accompany any new development. you could fail. If this collects in houses it could possibly increase the risk of cancer. careful consideration must be given as to the procedure: If there are TPOs on any trees prior to the application being made then. . The foundation slabs of any building with a solid oversite must be made gas-tight using a membrane linked into and sealed to a cavity DPC (damp-proof course). However. Making an Application on a Tree-heavy Plot Most local authorities are concerned not only to protect trees that already exist. there must be a membrane beneath the screed linked into the DPC and there must be cranked ventilators. may well impose a TPO that would result in the application’s failure. preferably with a more advantageous and native tree. may mean that the ground is liable to subsidence or movement. faults beneath that level or deep in the ground.

backland and brownfield and explains what to do once you've found your perfect plot. just because a plot is infill doesn’t necessarily mean that the planners will agree to its development.so use some initiative and seek it out yourself. thinking that the task of finding a suitable plot is going to be difficult enough. and you should never actually pay for a plot until or unless planning permission is obtained. but often local governments are just as keen to ensure that open spaces within the built-up area are maintained. There are countless examples of open spaces or even fields that have been encircled by development within a village. replacement. Some may well be. Land could be spare because: the plot used to be garden or allotment land .A Guide to Plot Types Land doesn't always come in a nicely advertised package with planning permission . Infill plots come in two guises: Spare Land: This is land that has no current use and is hidden from view by walls or fences which give the illusion that the street scene is uninterrupted. The Government at national level is keen to see areas of land within settlement boundaries used up before open land. rather than extending beyond the boundaries of the settlement. it is the existence of planning permission that makes them a plot. The first-time self-builder. will be even more daunted when they discover that plots come in various types and that there is a plethora of names for each. Any extension of the settlement boundary is likely to be frowned upon by the planners and referred to as a ‘ribbon development’. David Snell introduces the different types of plot. However. Infill Plots ‘Infill’ is the term commonly used for plots in an urban or village setting that occupy a gap in the street scene. and you might think that they are ripe for building upon. However. including infill.

The Land Registry can usually help for those with transactions against them since 2000. Check out Google Maps or the Ordnance Survey plan for your area and study it for signs of this spare land. say. precluded its use for development. in the past. Nevertheless. Once again. The biggest problem you may face is where there is no traceable owner. the ability to have windows overlooking the retained house and whether or not one has the right to connect to services or drains within the garden area of that old house. Backland Development . Glass fronted home on an infill plot Jeremy and Susanna Emmerson have built a home next door to their old one on a narrow site formerly occupied by a garage. Then get out there and make enquiries. Garden Plots: This is the other and more certain type of infill plot. most single plots that come onto the market were once part of somebody’s garden. such as the local dump owners have half-forgotten that they own this piece of land that they no longer use the land is not registered and has slipped out of ownership. where homeowners with gardens possessing a wide frontage lop off a section adjoining the carriageway. Garden plots had previously been classed as 'brownfield' but they are now 'greenfield' again meaning planning permission is more likely to be granted if your development fits local needs. restricting. You then need to knock on doors and ask if they would be willing to sell in the event of getting planning permission. looking around and studying maps can identify potential plots. Click here to read the full story. Things to look out for are any restrictive covenants that the vendors might wish to impose.there was previously an access to land at the rear that has subsequently been sold off or developed the land may well have had a previous use that.

infrastructure or new towns. All political parties are against the development of previously undeveloped land in the countryside. This only really happens where the original plot is quite large but. Watch out for contamination on sites with an ex-industrial use. As previously stated. . Only here. instead of seeking to infill the road frontage. Greenfield Land This is land that has not been previously developed. Access is usually down the side of the existing house and the terms of that right of way need to be properly laid out. This can almost always be dealt with but it can be costly and those costs should be reflected in the price. It could be factories. the development is at the rear of the existing house. garden land is also designated as brownfield land. an old builders’ yard or even a disused petrol station. unless it again fits in with Government requirements. In general. unless it fits in with their requirements to provide more housing. Green Belt Land This is an entirely different designation from greenfield land in that its preservation is given legal status.This is another type of garden plot. If you share access then it would be preferable to have an obligation for joint maintenance. in reality. no new development is allowed on green belt land. The Government is broadly supportive of its use for redevelopment. there is often more privacy on such plots than on many modern estates. Brownfield Land The term applies to land which has had a previous planning use that may have ceased. so long as all other normal planning criteria are established.

you could agree to buy it and run up to exchange of contracts ‘subject to receipt of satisfactory planning permission’. local authorities or private companies bring plots to the market with the service roads and sewers already in. In general. It is ripe for being knocked down and replaced with a better building or buildings. That way. It may state the price if you’ve agreed it or it may leave that to a valuation at a future date.. Fully Serviced Plots/Custom Homes Increasingly.. you need to get your solicitors to prepare a simple one. the contract will void and you’ll get your deposit back. These are serviced plots and in many cases service supplies will be connected into the plots. if having visited the planners you’re absolutely convinced that it’ll get permission. although connection charges may still be required. planners are amenable to a one-for-one replacement but beware local policies that limit the size of a new dwelling by reference to the size of the original — this is particularly likely in the green belt. if things don’t go to plan and the application is refused. Once You've Found a Plot. Alternatively. See more on custom homes here.or two-page legal option. . It may require some payment. If it’s a large sum it’s normally deducted from the price if the sale goes through.Replacement Plots What this refers to is a situation where the plot is occupied by a house or bungalow that is either substandard in construction terms or has/is not realising the full potential of the plot. It will almost certainly be time limited too. which requires the vendor to sell to you in the event of your planning application being successful. Have a Legal Option to Buy Drawn Up To ensure that the plot will be yours on receipt of planning permission.

However. probably. the local shop or the hairdressers (try and seek out the oldest person in the village too) You could go to the Land Registry (England & Wales) or Registers of Scotland and pay a small fee (£5 for a paper application or £4 online) to see if the land is registered and. But be careful to balance that with a need for others not to seek to get in on the act. you’ll be back to your detective work and you may need to up the stakes by putting a notice on the land or doing something on it that may flush out those with an interest in it. it won’t be registered.What you won’t get back in either of these scenarios is the costs of preparing the plans and making the application. It’s a gamble. the post office. if so. if the land has been vacant for some time and. How to Work Out What the Plot is Really Worth The last thing you should do is contact estate agents or valuers to find out how much a plot that currently doesn’t have planning permission would otherwise be worth. to who. to the party they want to have it. If it isn’t. Plots get their value as a direct result of the value of the house that could be built on the land. They’ll take over the situation and you’ll find yourself cut out of the loop as they try to get the consent and then sell it the way they want to and. So make sure that you make the right enquiries with the planners and that you take the correct message away — not just the one that you want to hear. hasn’t been sold in relatively recent times. therefore. What if You Can’t Establish the Identity of the Vendor? Then you need to turn detective: ask adjoining owners if they know who owns or last occupied the land look at parish or church records find out information in the pub. And there is a simple equation that will work in most circumstances: .

or a bit of both. If the answer doesn’t come up to the end value. Then.The land costs (A) + the build costs (B) + a 20/30% margin (A + B x 20/30%) = the end value (C). one of the elements that you can control is the margin. in estate agents’ windows. It’s never a good idea to go into a project with it in negative equity. But if you’re not planning to sell in the near future. put in your hoped-for price for the land. Either way you need to juggle the figures to get to the fixed answer. You start with the answer to the equation: the end value. Your next step is to work out the probable build costs using the ‘Homebuilding & Renovating Build Cost Guide’. and the margin. by checking on the prices of similar sales with Land Registry. if necessary. you could take the view that the margin could be trimmed. If it’s higher. then either the land cost or your building costs are too high. As self-builders. in the local papers and. then your land valuation is too low. . What is a home of the sort that you feel will reasonably get planning permission going to be worth on this plot? The answer to that question is all around you.

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