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Finding Land for Self Build

Written by Guest author

22 Jan 2024


Self Build

6 min read

Finding land for self build

This blog is written by a third-party guest author to help provide additional insight and perspective.

By Alex Turner, Partner and Chartered Surveyor, Lacy Scott & Knight – an independent partnership of chartered surveyors, valuers, property agents and fine art auctioneers, operating across East Anglia from offices in Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket. This guest post is part of a series of blog posts aimed at helping people better understand the benefits and processes involved in self build mortgages and building their own home.

Building a house is like making a complicated and expensive cake, you need to make sure you have the right ingredients before you start. Aside from money, land is the fundamental ingredient around which all other aspects of a build will be determined.

Under the Self Build and Custom House Building Act, local authorities are obligated to keep a register of self builders looking for land. There is a further obligation on local authorities to match supply to demand of self build plots in their authority area.

Perhaps the first step any budding self builder should take is to sign up to the self build registers in their search areas. Local authorities may also circulate details of self build plots to registered self builders.

Self build plots can be either one-off individual garden plots, small developments of five or so self build plots or increasingly, plots identified as self build as part of larger development schemes.

Availability of land for self builds is very much a function of prevailing National and Local planning circumstances. In recent years many authorities in East Anglia have, at various times, been unable to demonstrate sufficient supply of development land. So, there have been periods where plots have been approved in sites outside of village boundaries.

At the time of writing, planning has tightened up. In general terms availability of development land is reducing, however self build still offers a potential route to a planning permission in circumstances where planning would not be granted for a developer-led scheme.

In order to increase your chances of finding a building plot, it would be a good idea to register with a range of agents that cover your area of choice. Registering with online property portals and specialist plot finding websites will also be a good potential source of building plots for sale. A really dedicated self builder could regularly monitor planning applications to see what is being approved by the planning authority in their preferred area.

Once you find a plot, it is very important to ascertain the planning status. If it is a plot of land with planning potential then there are mechanisms by which you can agree to purchase subject to obtaining planning approval.

If a plot has planning permission already, it is important to establish that the planning permission is live. If any work has been done to make a start on the development, ensure any pre-commencement planning conditions have been complied with.

Because a plot has planning permission, it is not a guarantee that it can be developed. Private property ownership and rights are not a specific planning matter, so it is important that the land has the benefit of any rights required to enable development. For example, if third-party-owned land must be crossed for access and services, you should establish that the appropriate legal rights are in place.

Some local authorities charge Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) on new developments. In most circumstances, self builders should be able to gain exemption from this charge assuming they will occupy the property for a period of at least three years after completion. CIL can run into tens of thousands of pounds, so it is important to ensure that you understand the process for gaining self build exemption.

Finally, every plot is different and will often provide an opportunity to build a bespoke home. All plots will have their own set of challenges to overcome. Whilst there is a lot to consider, advice is readily available through property professionals, magazines and online including free build cost calculators and other very useful information.

Guest post supplied by Lacy Scott & Knight.

Lacy Scott & Knight sells all types of development land from single building plots and buildings with planning permission for conversion through to major strategic development sites throughout the region.

By publishing and hosting information from guest authors on the Suffolk Building Society website, this does not constitute an affiliation with, nor a recommendation of, any third party organisation. We recommend that if the content of this article applies to you, or if you require further information on the particular topic it raises, that you seek specialist advice.

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