Planning and Permissions
If you are buying land to develop later, then it is important to have a plan in place before purchasing any parcel of land. List all the projects you want in your new land and prioritize them based on your needs. Mark those items on which you are willing to compromise.
Before proceeding to purchase land, it is vital to establish with the local authority that they will ultimately allow you permission to bring your plans to fruition. Otherwise, there is no purpose in buying it in the first place.
That said, acquiring land with planning permission already granted doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will be able to build what you want on it. There may be restrictive covenants/controls attached which preclude you. This is an area your lawyer should carefully check.
Buying land with an existing property standing on it provides a more natural solution as it benefits from what is referred to as ‘past precedent.’ In such situations, it is usually easier to get full planning permission if either redeveloping an existing property or demolishing it and rebuilding a new one as per the original style or footprint – in the case of the latter, only of course if your plans are reasonable and are in line with the neighborhood guidelines.
Dealing with planning officials
In all situations, it is vital to establish a good relationship with your local council’s planning office. Planning officers are generally fair people, and if you can build a rapport with them and your proposals are not too ostentatious, you are far more likely to receive a favorable response to any reasonable planning request.
The best way to garner support from your planning office is to involve them in the process from the outset, holding early site meetings to discuss your intentions on an informal basis and without cost to yourself. Planning officers usually offer constructive advice and suggestions, which will assist you in drawing up detailed plans that are far more likely to get approved at the first hurdle.
The legal process
The legal procedure for buying land is generally a lot less complicated than buying and selling the developed property, and should always be conducted by a qualified attorney specializing in land transactions. As land is a valuable commodity often quickly snapped up by other buyers, you should be looking for a lawyer who is energetic and enthusiastic to your cause. Use the lawyer’s knowledge and expertise to answer important questions relating to issues such as permitted use, boundaries, footpath or other public access/rights over the land issues, to be sure that the purchase is a sound one.
Availing your lawyer at an early stage with as much detail about the plot as possible is crucial. This could be in the form of site photographs and your intended plans for its development.
The lawyer’s function will mostly be to check that the land has a ‘clear title’ – i.e., is legitimately for sale – and to initiate searches to confirm this as well as the legit owner of the parcel in question. They will also check the legal documentation relating to the size, scale, and dimensions of the site to ensure that you are buying what is on sale.
Once your lawyer is satisfied that all is in order and you are sure that you have or will get the necessary approval for your intended use, then it is usually safe to proceed to purchase. Apparently, if buying land at auction, one only has a limited amount of time to conduct the research and legal work and therefore buying land this way carries significantly more risk.