The ‘race for space’ has accelerated during the pandemic, as city dwellers have rushed to the countryside to find larger properties with sizeable gardens. Whilst it’s understandable that buyers are keen to trade their tower block balconies and rooftop terraces for actual grass, it’s perhaps surprising that some will look to develop within the boundaries of their own new garden space.
Our estate agents in Brentwood explain that the government is encouraging homeowners with enough space to build new properties on their doorstep. The motivation here is not just to support the economy but also the environment. Houses built closely together are eco-friendly but also negate the need to build on the green belt. As such, the government has launched a ‘Help to Build scheme’ at a cost of £150 million, that is designed to kickstart the self-build revolution.
If you are a homeowner with a sizeable garden, or a buyer or investor who is seeking the right property, then be aware that your outdoor space could net you a small fortune.
Your main options are either to develop the land you already have, by building a new property next to your current home; alternatively, you can sell to a developer and profit from the sale of your land.
In the first option, you can use the government’s Help To Build scheme to design your home from scratch, or else customise the specifications based on an existing template. Not only will you create exactly the space you need, but you then have the option to obtain rental income from it, either from regular tenants or as a holiday let. You might also wish for older children or elderly family members to live in the property whilst remaining close to offer support.
Of course, if you have no desire to build, then selling part of your land to a developer is a shrewd move.
A good starting point is to consult with a planning specialist to conduct a feasibility review, costing in the region of £200-300. They will be able to discuss any obvious obstacles with you such as if you live in an area with an increased flood risk.
If you’re given the all-clear, then apply for formal planning through your local authority. This is an important step to take before selling to a property developer. An alternative is to sell ‘subject to planning permission’ so the developer will apply on your behalf and will only complete the purchase if approved. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to sell for around a third of what the new property will cost. So, if the new house will be valued at £450,000, then you can expect to earn £150,000 from the sale of your land.
Dealing with disgruntled neighbours can be one of the biggest challenges you’ll face, so make sure they have nothing to complain about. Councils typically require homes to be least 20 metres away from your closest neighbour’s house and shouldn’t overlook their windows or garden.
There is an appeals process for any applications that aren’t passed first-time. You may have more luck with an appeal, as a central government-approved inspector will take on your case instead of the council. Remember that National Planning Policy prefers developments to take place in existing areas rather than on the green belt.