Property development pitfalls and how to avoid them

Property development pitfalls and how to avoid them

Much has happened over the past 12 months’ since Boris Johnson announced the UK would ‘Build, Build, Build’ following the setting out of some of the most radical planning reforms seen since the rebuild following the end of the second world war.

Housebuilding was then and remains one of the key catalysts in Britain’s post-pandemic economic and social recovery.

The household name developers up and down the country are battling to secure swathes of land to meet demand and their own aspirations. Smaller regional and local developers are also playing and expected to play a key role in meeting Britain’s unprecedented demand for housing by seeking out opportunities for development on a smaller scale, development opportunities which the large developers would not deem a viable or worthwhile venture.

The role of these regional and local developers should not be underestimated. These developers do not have the benefit of large in-house, land, planning, technical and legal teams. They rely on local businesses and local professionals to provide them with the necessary expertise and support.

Currently, at Neves Solicitors’ LLP, we are advising a number of local developers and landowners in relation to varied residential and mixed-use (residential and commercial) schemes.

We offer advice in relation to the legal viability of land for development, as well as navigating developers and landowners alike around a number of potential pitfalls which could otherwise see a proposed scheme deemed unviable or severely damage the profitability of a given scheme.

Some of those pitfalls might include:

Means of Access and Service Infrastructure

  • Does the site have sufficient rights of access?
  • Does the site immediately adjoin the public highway or are private rights of access across third party land required?
  • Are visibility splays required, can you meet the requirements within the extent of the site?
  • Are you able to bring all vital utilities into the site, do you require third party consent? Utilities undertakers will rarely rely on statutory rights alone.

Planning - Consent implementable? Conditions?

  • Does the land have existing planning consent, does it remain valid?
  • Can it be implemented? Are there any legal constraints that may mean the consent cannot be legally implemented? Are any of the conditions unduly onerous?

Restrictive Covenants and ‘Adverse Rights’

  • Is the legal title subject to any restrictive covenants which may prohibit development, or mean unwelcome and unbudgeted costs are incurred? If so, are they enforceable?
  • Are any third parties entitled to payments if the land is developed or if planning consent is granted for development or any alternative use?

Environmental Obligations and Considerations

  • What environmental liabilities will you inherit?
  • What pre-commencement planning conditions are there in relation to environmental investigations? What are the likely costs of remediation?

The above are just a few of the considerations developers will have when assessing the suitability of land for development. It is important to obtain suitable expert advice where necessary.

At Neves, we can offer competitive professional advice concerning all matters throughout a development; from the early stages of site identification to undertaking the sales of the developed properties.

For more information or to discuss your property development plans please get in touch with our specialist Commercial Property team. Call 0330 0945 500, email or complete our Contact Form and we'll get back to you.