Pony Paddock, Extended Garden, Room For A Pool?
Don’t get caught in the land trap …
In these straightened times it is essential that you are getting the maximum benefit from any investment and with rural and greenfield land values bucking the trend of the general downturn adding extra value to your property often comes in the form of acquiring additional land. But, beware, do you have the right to do as you please or do others have the right to roam?
Adding to the value of your property by the acquisition of land for a roomier garden to contain an expanding family, a longed for veg patch or the provision of a pony paddock is often an enticing thought. Whatever the reason and envisaged future use, certain factors need to be considered, as what often seems straight forward can become complicated and protracted and it is well to be aware of any potential pitfalls from the outset.
Any intended future use of land may mean that a planning application for ‘change of use’ is required. For example, if the land is currently a field (in agricultural use) and it is your intention that the land is to become part of a garden. Any application will be dealt with on its merits and in accordance with the planning regime in the area. It’s worth remembering that planning permission may not be automatically granted by the respective Local or the National Park Authority. Planning permission also applies if any buildings are to be erected on the additional land, with the added check that there are no restrictions on the title to the land that would prevent building even if planning permission were granted.
Consideration too must be given to the services that are currently provided or available. Would it be as attractive a proposition if you would need to manhandle heavy buckets of water a couple of times a day for the pony or muck out stables in the dark if water and electricity supplies were not permissible or indeed possible?
Knowledge of the past use of the land is also crucial. Once bought, as the buyer you would inherit a number of legal liabilities, one of which is the obligation to remediate any parts of the land that are contaminated. This contamination could include leakage or burying of materials from past trade or manufacturing use. Whilst environmental searches should be carried out by your property lawyer and questions asked of the current owner, it may be necessary to carry out a physical site investigation to be sure of spotting any potential risks.
Another key issue surrounds who else has access rights to the land. Are there any public rights of way across it? Does the general public have “a right to roam” under the legislation introduced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000? Does anybody have shooting or fishing rights, which may be exclusive to an individual, a syndicate or club, which would preclude you exercising the rights yourself? Is the property in a conservation area, a National Park or is it indeed listed?
The very essence of what you are trying to achieve may be destroyed if you and your property lawyer do not consider all the factors I’ve mentioned here and it’s a list that is by no means exhaustive. Every property transaction is different and only by working with an experienced property lawyer and your surveyor can you effectively identify whether the land you have your eye on will indeed bring you the benefits, pleasure and returns you seek.