Buying Land to Build a House?

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  • Buying Land to Build a House?
  • agent007

    We have just found a plot of land not too far from us that’s been disused for the last 15-20 years.

    The land is approx 15m x 30m in size and used to be a car park for the large house infront but currently it’s overgrown, unused and neglected. The large house infront has been sold seperately many years back and the land is now walled off from the main house. There is confirmed vehicular access to the land via a small track from a side road.

    We have spoken to the owner, who now lives permenantly outside the UK and has no need for the land and he’s up for selling. We have agreed a price in principle and he’s aware of no reason why planning permission for a small home might not be granted. We have also spoken to a local architect and he can see no reason why planning should be an issue.

    Before we go ahead with this though has anyone ever done this before? Is there any way to suss out the planning people at the local council prior to purchase as to whether planning might be possible?

    Has anyone on here done this before? The last thing we want is to buy a piece of land to find out that we can’t get planning.

    Premier Icon Stoner

    If you buy a peice of land without planning consent, then you really should make the price either contingent on the planning being granted (conditional offer) or reflective of the risk of ending up with land without planning (unconditional).

    Utility land, for, say parking, would be worth maybe £10k. With planning permission for a house it might be worth £100k. So dont assume anything.

    You can pay for pre-approval discussions with the planning authority that while are not binding, do give clear guidance on what may or may not be acceptable.

    But NEVER pay the full price for land without planning permission. Agree a base price, with a second payment contingent on planning approval.

    Premier Icon nickjb

    You could apply for planning permission. No need to own the land to apply. That said I’d just ask the planners for a friendly chat. They are generally helpful although won’t actually commit to anything. You could also download the planning guide and see if there is any reason in there to approve or not


    Amen to Stoner.


    As nick has said apply for planning permission prior to purchase is the safest bet. I wouldn’t rely on anything from planners in a pre planning discussion. Fine for a rough guide but wouldn’t buy land based on it. Stoners advice is very sound too.


    Nick and stoner haves answered very well. Good luck!


    Some good advice above. Presumably you will have a solicitor handle the purchase if you proceed? He/she will need to check for other factors that could affect development – e.g. if a high pressure gas main runs through the centre of the site it would drastically affect development potential/cost – or if a previous owner left it with a restrictive covenant.

    Worth checking it hasn’t had a previous industrial use too as contamination or below ground structures can make life difficult/expensive.

    You can usually find the Local Plan/Local Development Framework ‘Proposals Map’ for your area on line, to make an initial check that the site doesn’t have a problem policy designation – e.g. lying outside the settlement boundary would be tricky.

    Best advice is to talk the local planners as a starter for ten though.


    Thanks everyone, some sound advise here. I’ll phone the local planning office first thing on Monday to see what they would advise?

    Quick question though – if I got planning in place before the sale wouldn’t this bump up the value of the land to the point where the seller might turn round and ask for more?

    Premier Icon imnotverygood

    I would have thought the seller will sell the land based on the basis you are going to build on it. If they sell at a lower value I would assume that this means that it is unlikely that you’ll get permission.


    If I was the seller I certainly would.

    Premier Icon nickjb

    – if I got planning in place before the sale wouldn’t this bump up the value of the land

    most likely. If you want the minimise risk it’ll cost you. If you are happy to take a chance you could save a fortune. Do your homework and make it a calculated risk. If you get the land for a reasonable price it’ll be a good investment either way.


    Get utility quotes, just because there is a house near doesnt mean you can feed off that. Could end up being an expensive field


    We’ve looked at land recently that has no planning consent and the local council said we’re not sure whether we’d grant planning permission on that land. Funny how it had an uplift clause tucked away in the legal docs and lo and behold it was owned by the council. Moral of the story be careful but it may well be worth the risk.

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