Agricultural Land: Planning and searches

Laura Mather  16-01-2024

If you are buying a parcel of agricultural land, there are numerous searches and planning issues which you will need to consider. But what will these searches reveal?


What are Agricultural Land Searches?

In any property transaction, your conveyancing solicitor will carry out searches to let you know whether there are any issues which affect the land. Information revealed by these searches could mean that you decide not to proceed, or that you want to renegotiate the price you have agreed to pay. 

When you are purchasing agricultural land, whether it is just one field, or hundreds of acres, your conveyancing solicitors should carry out searches to reveal whether there are any issues with the land which you need to know about before you buy. 


What do Agricultural Land Searches Reveal?

Searches are an important aspect of any land or property purchase and provide invaluable information in respect of your proposed purchase. They can reveal, among other things:

  • Any planning permissions (or refusals), enforcement or other notices and any building regulations affecting the land;
  • Details of any public rights of way, footpaths, bridleways etc to which the land is subject and often reveals those that are in close proximity to the land;
  • Environmental issues such as flooding, contamination, ground stability and the location of renewable energy sources;
  • Confirmation as to whether the land has ever been affected by coal mining; and
  • The location of certain services such as mains water pipes, electricity cables and gas lines.

Searches will always be recommended by your conveyancer. If for any reason they are not, you should insist that full searches are carried out. 


Planning Status of Agricultural Land

If you intend to make specific use of the land you are buying (for example, using it for grazing, a campsite, or motor cross trials, or for building housing), you will need to discuss that with your solicitor. This is important, so your solicitor can advise you whether you need to make any application for permission to changing the use of the land and/or developing the land after you have bought it.

There is no doubt that land is versatile, there are a number of potential uses ranging from development to renewable energy production to sports and recreation, but it is often not as simple as purchasing the land and simply using it as you wish.

If the land you are buying is currently classed as agricultural for planning purposes and you wish to continue using the land in the same way no change of use is required. However, if you are intending to change the use of the land after completion of your purchase, then you should investigate whether a planning application will be required and how this will affect your budget and anticipated timescales.

For example, if you wish to use the land as extra garden land or for recreational or leisure activities (which may include the keeping of horses) you will likely need to apply to the local planning authority for permission to change the use of the land. There is of course no guarantee that approval would be given and you need to consider this carefully, including whether it would be appropriate to try to obtain planning consent prior to completion of your purchase.

Permission for change of use would be required in addition to any planning permission for building works on the land such as stabling for horses.


Buying Leased Agricultural Land

When you are buying agricultural land, it is important to consider whether the land occupied or vacant.

If the land has been let to any third party you need to be aware of the terms of the agreement. Some agreements will provide a tenant with a right to renew the lease at the end of the term, which may not be suitable for  your intended use of the land or future plans. This should therefore be considered at as early stage as possible.


Expert Agricultural Land Purchase Solicitors

Samuels Solicitors have been helping clients buy and sell agricultural land for decades. Being based in Devon, we are well aware of the issues which can arise. It is incredibly important to fully investigate any land you are buying, whether you are intending to develop the land, carry out agricultural activities or simply use the land for recreational purposes, which is where our expertise becomes invaluable.

If you are considering a land purchase please do not hesitate to contact us for a free no obligation quote.

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