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  • Writer's picturesathyan j

How much is your garden worth to a property developer?

Gardens can make the perfect location for new homes. If you have a large garden or surplus land you have no need for, there’s nothing to stop you from selling some or all of it for development, subject to obtaining the necessary planning approval and other relevant consents. Indeed, many homeowners choose to do just that, making healthy profits to secure their financial future.

So, who would be interested in potentially purchasing your garden? “Local, regional and national housing developers are all interested in buying land. However, the largest major developers generally tend to only consider schemes of more than 50 units,” reveals a leading land consultant in the South East.

In terms of the potential gain you could be making, the value of your garden depends on a number of factors. These include:

  • Size and condition of the plot

  • Availability of building land in your local area

  • Value of your property

  • Whether there is direct road access to the plot

  • Number of homes that could be built

  • Potential value of the new homes

  • Costs involved in building these homes

  • Whether you already have planning permission for the garden land

You can expect an interested developer to calculate their ballpark offer price on the basis of the potential sale price of the new houses minus all costs. After that, it’s down to negotiations. But more on that below.

What should you know about planning permission?

The last point above relates to planning permission. While it is perfectly possible to sell your garden without planning permission, it won’t come as a great surprise to hear that the value of the plot to a developer will be higher if you have already secured planning permission when you offer it for sale. There are two types of planning permission:

  • Outline planning permission, which grants permission for building on your garden plot in principle, subject to detailed plans being submitted (and approved)

  • Full planning permission, which contains exact details of the building(s) proposed to be constructed on the site

Another route is to sell your land on a ‘subject to planning’ basis. This can be a popular option as the seller won’t be responsible for investing the time and money into obtaining planning consent. There are different types of agreement including conditional sales, promotion agreements and option agreements, as is explained here.

Depending on your exact location, different planning rules may apply. These can vary from authority to authority, and additional restrictions will apply in Conservation Areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks and for listed buildings.

Which elements determine the development potential of your garden?

Evaluating the development potential of your garden plot to a developer is not an exact science, but there are specific factors that will always be taken into account.

Large plot size

Many residential garden plots unfortunately fail at the first hurdle; they’re simply too small to be of interest to a developer. While, technically, there’s no minimum plot size specified, each individual site will be judged according to the number and size of properties that could realistically be built there. The larger the garden, the more options are open to a developer, and the more valuable the land will be.

Overlooking issues

Overlooking issues can be a problem, both from the perspective of your neighbours and the new houses to be constructed in your garden. Planning permission will be harder to obtain if your plot suffers with this issue, while its development potential will be greater if the garden is not overlooked by neighbouring properties or there is mature hedging or trees in place.

Loss of amenity

Along the same vein as overlooking, your neighbours may also object to losing the enjoyment of an open outlook, say over fields and countryside, which could be classed as a loss of amenity by the planning authority. Other types of loss of amenity that can make planning consent difficult include overshadowing, loss of light, light pollution, noise and smells.

Environment and local wildlife

Open plots with no major trees, no protected flora and fauna are favoured by developers since their loss as a result of construction can cause issues with neighbours and council planners. Environmental protection and biodiversity is a global concern and a whole body of legislation exists to protect the natural world. The fewer issues there are with your plot, the easier the path to its sale is likely to be.

Good access

Gardens tend to be at the rear of the property, which can make access to any new-build homes from the road difficult, depending on the exact location of your house. Wide plots and corner properties have the advantage here. In urban environments or congested streets, the provision of off-street parking may be a condition of obtaining planning permission.

Public drainage

Drainage is an important planning issue and if your garden plot is close to a public sewer, it will make it easy to connect any new properties to it. However, if the sewer runs underneath your garden, building on top of it may need additional consents. No public sewers nearby will mean a costly private drainage system (septic tank or cesspool) will have to be installed.

Amenities and transport links

If your property is situated in a town with good infrastructure, roads and public services, this is likely to be looked on more favourably by the local planning authority than a housing development in a more rural location. Property developers know they can use the presence of local amenities to their advantage when it comes to selling their new build homes.

Development precedent

If your garden is not the first one in your street to have been sold for development, it means a precedent has already been set. While this in itself is not an official consideration for planning permission, it does have an effect and is likely to make it easier to get planning consent. This is bound to make your garden more desirable to developers.

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