Property development – avoiding the traps
There are plenty of traps for the unwary when buying a development site. Steve Petty, property lawyer with Cousins Business Law offers these tips for anyone embarking on a property development:
- Check copies of letters of objection in relation to any planning applications for the site that were withdrawn or refused. They may reveal legal rights claimed by neighbours over the site that might prevent future development
- If buying a site with the benefit of planning permission check that any drawings supplied by the seller are the approved drawings stamped by the Local Planning Authority or referred to in the Decision Notice
- Overlay the legal title onto the site layout plan to ensure the two fit
- Make sure your lawyer walks the boundaries with you to ensure they agree with the legal title
- Check whether copyright in any planning drawings vests in the seller or its architect. Ensure that copyright is assigned to you on completion
- Request that any ground condition reports prepared for the seller are readdressed to you by the author of the report
- Give your lawyer a services drawing for the development to check that all necessary service rights over adjoining land are in place
- Pay particular attention to whether the site frontage directly abuts the public highway. If there is land in third party ownership between the public highway and the site then you may be ransomed by the third party
- Obtain quotations for laying new services or relocating existing services from the relevant suppliers before you commit yourself to the purchase.
- Check for the existence of services under the site which supply adjoining properties. It may not be possible to move these.
The best way to ensure that you enjoy all the legal rights you require to develop the site and that no third parties enjoy rights over your site which may prevent development is to meet your lawyer on site to discuss your proposals. Be wary of instructing any lawyer who doesn’t suggest a site visit or even worse suggests one is unnecessary. Without such a visit, your lawyer will not have all the information he requires to advise you properly and crucial legal issues may be missed.
Contact Cousins Business Law for advice on this topic.
Article added: 1 May 2008 © Cousins Business Law
This article is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.
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