Buying Land with Planning Permission

You’ve made the decision to build your own house, but as the initial excitement starts to fade you are suddenly confronted by the first big hurdle to your project – buying land with planning permission. Land is expensive, but can be several times more expensive when it has planning attached to it.

What is planning permission?

Planning permission is the approval to build on land. To get planning permission you have to submit a proposal to the local planning authority. It’s always best to talk to your local authority before you start an application as they will be able to tell you what kind of planning permission application you need to complete and about any non-planning consents you’ll need.

So is there a difference between outline planning permission and full planning permission?

There are two different types of planning permission that you may have heard about. The first is outline planning permission. When you are buying a piece of land, this is the type of planning permission you are most likely to come across. It means that the local authority has granted permission to build on the land as long as conditions are met. There will also be “reserved matters” that need approval as you move forward with your project.

Full planning permission is given to detailed applications that have been sent in to the local authority. If you see a site has full planning permission it means that a plan for the site has been laid down that has to be followed if you don’t want to have to submit a new application.

What are “reserved matters”?

“Reserved matters” sound far more daunting than they actually are. “Reserved matters” are just parts of a building project that can be sent in later as part of the planning process. If you’re buying a piece of land with outline planning permission for a residential build, the “reserved matters” could be the landscaping of the land, the access to and around the site, the appearance and layout of the building project and the scale of it. “Reserved matters” allow you to craft your own vision for your build within the outline planning permission application.

What else do I need to know about “reserved matters”?

“Reserved matters” can be sent in for approval all at once or one at a time. You can also change your mind about some of the “reserved matters” and send in fresh proposals for the different elements. But there is a time restriction and once that has expired, you can’t make any more changes. You have three years from the date that the outline planning permission was granted to submit all proposals for “reserved matters”. Makes sure that you know the date when the outline planning permission was granted before you buy any land. You don’t want to be rushing with only a few days to submit your “reserved matters”.

Where can I search for plots online?

There are lots of different websites out there that you can use to search for land. Below are just a handful which you might find helpful:

  • Register of Planning Decisions on GOV.UK
  • UK Land Directory