Expert View: Are you planning a property development in your garden?

Steven Haynes, commercial property lawyer at HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors

Steven Haynes, commercial property lawyer at HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors - Credit: Archant

Continued pressure on housing means garden developments are becoming increasingly common. However, before you start the work there are some key legal issues you’ll need to consider.

Steven Haynes, Commercial Property lawyer at HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors, provides some more insights.

• Planning vs legal rights

Some people believe planning permission gives them the green light, but remember the land is still subject to any existing legal rights, such as restrictive covenants.

• Do your research

Applying for planning permission incurs costs, so at the outset consider a legal review to identify possible obstacles to development. For example, the land might be subject to restrictive covenants. The earlier you can identify and address any legal restrictions, the better.

• Access

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Access to garden plots often relies on existing access rights, but are they adequate? A right of way to access ‘the dwelling house’ won’t necessarily include a right of way to access a second house. Identify whether your access rights will need improving and, again, the earlier that is the addressed the better.

• Taking a chance

Attempts to maximise profits from garden sites can lead some people to take ‘commercial’ views on restrictions. If development is restricted to a bungalow some people might plan a dormer bungalow. Always bear in mind that the development will only make money if somebody buys it, and buyers, particularly their lenders, tend to be more risk averse. Aim to create a ‘clean’ site which can be mortgaged.

• Do you really want to be a developer?

Development is risky business, which is why professional developers generally look for clean plots with planning. Whilst doing the development yourself may equate to a higher eventual profit for you, it also involves greater risk and can mean delays to your profit. You may also wish to consider selling the plot post-planning and take your profit at that earlier stage.

For advice on garden developments, contact, call 01462 458711 or visit visit