Property Development Site Checklist

Property Development Site Checklist: How to Assess New Opportunities

If you’re new to property development, there is a lot of information and red tape to get your head around. How do you know what will make a great investment and which “opportunities” should be given a wide berth?

Even if you’ve been developing properties for some time, having a checklist to hand can help you stay on track and avoid making costly mistakes. 

The property-buying experts at HBB Solutions have compiled this property development site checklist to help developers ensure nothing is missed and that they make the best decisions for success. When considering a new development opportunity, the following questions will help you decide if the project is something you want to invest in and determine how much you should pay for it.

What Type of Property Is It?

If you’re considering developing an existing building:

  1. Is it a residential, commercial or industrial site?
  2. If it’s a residential site, is it a flat, terraced house, semi-detached house, detached house, bungalow or another type of property?
  3. How many bedrooms, bathrooms and reception rooms does it have?
  4. What’s the total floor area (this information can be found in the Energy Performance Certificate, which every residential property must have before being marketed)?
  5. Does the property come with any land? How much outside space is there, and what does it consist of?
  6. Is the property in good condition and of standard construction?

What Type of Building Site Is It?

If you’re evaluating a plot of land for development: 

  1. What type of land is it — brownfield, greenfield, industrial, agricultural, greenbelt, contaminated or strategic land?
  2. Does the land already have planning permission for development? If so, when does the consent expire?
  3. Are there ongoing public objections to the development? If the consent was gained at an appeal, have the locals now accepted the development plans?
  4. Are there any planning conditions attached to the existing planning permission? Have these been satisfied, or are there some outstanding?
  5. If there is no existing planning permission, is it realistic to expect this to be granted? (The local planning offer might be able to offer some insight).
  6. Are permitted developments — small changes that can be made without applying for full planning permission — restricted? For example, if the building is listed.
  7. Are there any development plans for the neighbouring land or local area that might impact your project? For example, a new bypass or factory being built.
  8. Is the site in a protected area, such as a conservation area, national park or area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB)?
  9. Are there any trees on-site, and, if so, are any of these the subject of a Tree Protection Order (TPO)?
  10. What are the ground conditions? Is there groundwater? Are there any streams or watercourses? Can you detect signs of contamination?
  11. Is the plot located in a high flood risk area?
  12. Are there any other factors that could add time and costs to your project and potentially limit the scope of the development plans? For example, if the site is within the setting of a Listed Building or requires an archaeological survey.

What Is Access to the Site Like?

If you purchase land or property and subsequently discover that access is restricted, this can cause major delays and expenses during the construction phase. Vehicular access is often a pre-condition for granting planning permission. You may also need to gain consent from the local highway authority (usually the local council) if you require certain types of access, such as crossing a pavement.

  1. Is there a right of access? If not, are there arrangements in place to allow the necessary access for the development?
  2. Is there a ransom strip? This is a piece of land adjacent to the site you want to purchase which is owned by someone else. This can make access to the development site problematic and expensive, as the owner of the strip of land may demand a high price, a “ransom”, to use or purchase it. Check the land registry and conduct a site visit to determine if a registered or unregistered ransom strip backs onto the land you’re interested in buying.
  3. Is the road suitable for construction traffic, and will it be able to accommodate the level of traffic your planned development will generate?
  4. Is there space for large vehicles to enter and turnaround to exit?
  5. Is a visibility splay necessary? This is likely to be required if traffic exiting the development does not have a clear view of at least 70 metres in both directions.

How Much Will It Cost to Connect the Services Required to Build?

Research the cost of connecting the site to essential services — such as sewage disposal and electricity — or providing your own supply, before committing to a purchase. 

  1. Is there adequate drainage — are there drains on-site and foul drains on the road? Are the drains public or private?
  2. Is there a sewerage system, and, if so, how much does it cost to connect to it? If there are no main drains, what are the alternatives?
  3. Is mains water available, and what is the connection charge?
  4. Is mains electricity available, and what is the connection charge?
  5. Is gas available, and what is the connection charge? If not, is there space for an oil tank?
  6. Is there a telephone connection and wifi access?

Have You Run All the Relevant Legal Checks?

You’ll need to engage the services of a qualified and experienced legal professional to conduct the relevant searches and ensure everything is in order legally.

  1. What rights of way are there (both in your favour and to the benefit of neighbours or the general public)?
  2. Are there any covenants or easements attached to the land or property?
  3. Is the land being sold with the full title?
  4. How has the land or property been used historically?
  5. Are there any other legal issues that might affect your development plans?

What Are the Local Amenities?

As well as making sure that the land or property is suitable for development, you should consider how easy it will be to sell and how much profit you can make.

  1. What is the local neighbourhood like?
  2. Are there good transport links?
  3. Are there employment opportunities locally?
  4. What entertainment, shopping and leisure facilities are there?
  5. Is the area safe for families?
  6. What are the local schools like?
  7. Are there any sources of excessive noise or unpleasant odours?

There is a lot to consider when buying land or property for development. We hope that our checklist helps you assess new opportunities and choose the right ones for your business.

HBB Solutions partners with property developers and housebuilders of all types and sizes throughout the UK. We can help you attract more buyers to your properties and keep your development plans on track with our part-exchange and guaranteed purchase schemes. Contact us to find out more.