Land, particularly in the South of England, is at a premium which is one of the reasons why some people consider selling a garden building plot; to make money.
Whilst there is no doubt that selling a plot of land for development can be a lucrative decision, doing so is not as straightforward as you may think.
Firstly, the price you achieve is greatly affected by whether or not you have planning permission with figures from the UK Housing Review reporting prices being up to four times more with the relevant permissions than without.
Things to Consider When Selling or Developing a Garden Building Plot
If you are considering either selling part of your garden for development by a third party or even undertaking the work yourself then you will need to consider these factors. Some may prevent you from developing altogether whilst other aspects may be worked around:
Clearly the first thing to consider is the amount of land that is available to be freed up. The simple question that should be answered is whether or not a new home can feasibly be built on the space you have whilst allowing reasonable access and not impinging on any existing buildings.
The planned space should also allow a house to be built that subscribes to the established development of existing buildings. Many development schemes that feature garden plots are refused planning if they are too cramped or if they are not in keeping with the surrounding properties.
A well thought through design can mitigate for oddly shaped plots so there is no minimum size that we can outline here but the price you can achieve for your land will largely be determined by how big a development can be built upon it.
Any new development on a garden plot should not impact on the privacy currently enjoyed by your existing neighbours. This means that if your house does not overlook their garden (or windows) then the any new property must not overlook them either.
Again, careful design can be put to good use here and high-level glazing, obscured windows and strategic room planning can avoid this being an issue.
Each council has its own policies on the proximity of a development to the boundaries of your neighbours so you would need to check these in advance.
Likewise, if you are selling a garden building plot, consider your own privacy as you continue to live alongside any future occupiers of the new property.
A similar issue to privacy but one of natural daylight, a new property must not block natural daylight to existing properties. Light legislation is different to planning permission so should be a consideration even if you have received advice that you may achieve the latter.
The outlook of your neighbour’s (and your own) properties is also a consideration you will need to make. If your planned project impinges on open outlook then this could be viewed as a loss of amenity. However, outlook and view are two different things but the former can affect planning considerations.
Impact on the Environment
Planning for a garden building plot can be prevented if you have any protected species on your land. This can include bats in any outbuildings or trees, reptiles and newts. If there is any likelihood of his being the case then you will need to have an ecological survey.
Likewise, trees can also be a problem for development, particularly if they are protected. Even where they are not currently under a protection order, the local community may object to any being removed to make way for development.
Again, careful planning may mean that you do not have to take any trees down but this may need some additional surveys to ensure you don’t interfere with important root structures.
In Keeping With the Neighbours
When you are planning any development, most councils prefer that the style of the surrounding properties is kept to. Whilst this doesn’t necessarily mean a slavish replica of your neighbouring homes, you may need to adapt your designs to suit the planning team in your area.
Access and Drainage
A part of any new development is the consideration of how access and drainage will be achieved. The owners of a new home will want safe and easy access, usually with parking, so this should all form part of your plans. As for drainage, the ideal scenario is to link the development to a public sewer but how this is achieved may be tricky unless you know where the main drainage is. If you can’t link up to a public sewer then a private drainage system may need to be accommodated which will take up additional space.
Keeping In With the Locals
Local politics can play a major role on whether applications to develop on garden plots are approved. With local councils at both town and council levels often being made up by members of the community, it helps if you can get these people on side with your proposals. Even if your neighbours are not on a planning committee, they may well have friends or influence on one.
The idea is to head off any objections before they become an issue so keep those affected by your decision informed as best you can…it could save a lot of headaches in the long run.
Selling a Garden Plot to a Developer
With all of this in mind, if you are still tempted by the idea of selling a plot in your garden for development then you will need to decide whether to do this with or without planning permission.
If you sell your land with the appropriate permissions then you will no doubt achieve a greater value but getting the consent is not without costs nor plenty of hard work on your part. However, one of the reasons people prefer to sell their land with planning (aside from the extra money) is that they have some control over what is being built in their former grounds.
If you sell your land without planning then you have no control over how the land will be developed. Clearly, the builders will need to comply with planning legislation but you will revert to having only the same rights as your neighbours when it comes to raising any objections. That is, unless you have written in restrictive covenants to the sale contract (see below).
If you are intent on selling then the first stage is to calculate how much land is required to realistically build a home and compare this to how much of your garden plot you are prepared to do away with.
You should then decided if you want to simply sell without planning permission or apply for this consent yourself.
If you want to maximise your potential profits then you will need to call in an architect or surveyor to draw up plans and submit these for planning. Most architects will offer a service where they handle the planning permission process for you.
Once (and if) it has been granted, then you will need to find a buyer. You can do this by approaching local builders (or even national ones if you have a large plot) using a land broker or advertising the land with Property Assistant.
Next, you will need to instruct a solicitor to draw up a contract detailing:
- An accurate plan of the plot you are selling which clearly distinguishes the land your are keeping.
- The grant of rights for access to services such as drainage, electricity, water, sewage, water supply etc. Remember that these will probably need to cross your retained land.
- The grant of rights for general access.
- Any restrictive covenants you wish to include to protect your own enjoyment of your retained land (noise, nuisance, business use etc).
A Taxing Decision?
When you sell your primary residence, the money you make is exempt from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) but when you sell off a part of your land, the value you receive may be subject to CGT. This can be as much as 28% for higher-rate taxpayers. Check with a financial advisor to see how your profits will be affected before you commit to a sale.
Time to Regret?
Once you have signed over your garden plot, you should be prepared for what is, inevitably, to follow; building works. Along with any development comes a great deal of disruption before the shiny new home can be sold on to new owners. Depending on the development project, you should expect at least three months, if not more, of a dawn chorus of builders along with all their machinery.
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