Written by Carolyn Bunn, Associate Solicitor at Spire Solicitors LLP
If you are thinking about selling part of your garden land for development, there are several things to consider.
Talk to appropriate professionals: These include the local planning department to see if planning for a dwelling would be permitted; a land agent for advice on how to maximise the value of the land; an architect regarding what type of property to apply for planning for; an accountant to assess whether you will incur any tax liability; a solicitor to ensure that your title deeds do not prevent more building on your land.
Decide whether you sell with planning permission in place, or as bare land: If you apply for outline planning permission, you retain a level of control over what is built next door. You can market the plot for sale with planning permission and your solicitor can include a binding obligation on a buyer in the transfer of the plot that any changes to the planning permission must be approved by you. You are likely to achieve a higher sale price, as a plot tends to be more valuable if it already has the benefit of planning permission.
Selling the plot as bare land places the cost of applying for planning permission on the buyer but enables them to choose what to apply for. You may achieve less money at the outset, as the risk of whether planning can be obtained is on the buyer. If you wish to go down this route, your solicitor and agent can advise you on whether the land should be marketed with an uplift covenant, whereby if planning is obtained, an additional sum is payable to you. This strategy is sensible if planning permission would not be granted now, but may be in the near future.
Planning your budget: Be aware of all costs you may incur before applying for planning permission because as well as professional fees and monies spent on fencing the site off from your property, the local planning authority may stipulate fees such as a Community Infrastructure Levy. Consider such fees prior to any sale and agree who is to pay them.
Rights: The neighbouring property may need rights to connect to services on your property or to enter onto your property to maintain services/boundaries/buildings. Your solicitor can advise you on this.
Finally, consider the impact on the market value of your own home and whether you will be happy living with neighbours in closer proximity than you enjoyed previously.