Self Build - Planning Permission & Access

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This is the first formal step in the process and as such is particularly significant.

The most important consideration when selecting a plot of land to buy is the likelihood of obtaining planning permission for the build. Many plots are sold with planning permission already in place although clients should expect to pay considerably more for this security. If buying land with full planning permission already in place, detailed development plans will have been submitted to the local planning authority and it is therefore important to ensure that the actual permissions granted are entirely suitable. Local planning authorities are required by law to keep a public register of all planning applications, which you should be able to access easily.

Planning permission expires after three years and so purchasers should satisfy themselves that there are not any significant time restrictions attached to existing permissions.

Plots are also sold with outline planning permission. Although offering the purchaser less security, this is often cheaper to obtain and it will also offer an indication of the type of full planning permission that should be achievable in the future.

The cheapest way to buy land is to select a plot without any planning permission. This can be a risky option and clients could then expect to see the value increase substantially once planning permission has been granted. However, to apply for lending to build a property, plans and planning permission must already be in place and lenders will want to be satisfied that development of the site can commence prior to the expiry date of the planning permission.

To make a planning application you first have to work out who makes planning decisions in your area. There is normally a two or three-tier local authority system, consisting of a county and district council, in most cases a parish council may also be involved in this process. You'll find the majority of decisions are taken by your local district or borough council. However, where a unitary authority is in place, it will act as the local planning authority.


Access to the land is another key consideration when selecting a plot to buy. The build costs will be substantially higher for a plot of land that is difficult to reach or requires specialist machinery. Plots that are on a hill or a steep slope may also create additional building difficulty and therefore increase cost.

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