Buying Land or Property for Commercial Development

Are you looking to purchase property or land for a commercial development? Securing a site to develop brings its own unique set of legal and practical challenges…

Are you looking to purchase property or land for a commercial development? Securing a site to develop brings its own unique set of legal and practical challenges…

Whilst purchasing property can be relatively straightforward, purchasing a property or site with the intention of developing it for commercial use is quite another matter. There are a number of additional considerations that you will need to give thought to at an early stage. Here is an outline of some of the most important factors that you will need to consider in relation to acquiring the property or site.

Planning permission and consents

Planning permissions and consents can take a long time to obtain. If the property or site is not being sold with the benefit of planning permission consider purchasing the property conditionally or under an Option Agreement rather than purchasing the site outright. This will allow you to see if the planning permission is forthcoming before committing yourself to the sale.

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Please do not hesitate to contact an Everyman Legal Solicitor on 01993 893620 for a free discussion or email

Obtaining Finance

The rules regarding mortgages on residential transactions are straight-forward but none of this applies to Debt and Secured Lending on commercial transactions.  In particular, you should note that in a commercial transaction one lawyer cannot act for both the buyer and their lender so there will almost inevitably be three firms of solicitors involved in the transaction, two of which you will have to pay for!

Commercial Searches and Enquiries

You will, no doubt, need to undertake a wide range of commercial searches and enquiries in relation to the site. You will need to know whether or not the site is affected by flooding, the presence and location of any existing utilities, whether any trees are protected (as, if they are, you cannot simply cut them down) together with a whole host of other information that might affect your development plans. See our commercial searches and enquiries page for further information.

Access to the site and rights of way

If the property you are purchasing is an un-developed piece of land then how will you get to and from the site? Will you need to rely on a right of way? Does the right of way extend to all future uses of the site? It is a fundamental rule of property law that a right of way cannot be “enlarged” i.e. it can only be used for its intended purpose, so if the right of way is for the land owner only and only on foot you may need to consider alternative access routes or negotiation to extend the right of way if you need to allow it to be used by vehicles.

Roads and sewers and drains

Where your development requires the installation of new service media, such as sewers and drains, and the building of new roads, you will need to make sure that you have entered into agreements with the relevant public authorities so that these are “adopted” by them after completion of the development. In addition, it is important to consider where such service media and roads will be located in order that the relevant rights and obligations can be included in the leases or transfers to the future owners or occupiers of the site.

Considering the numerous legal complexities that development can bring to the process of purchasing a property or site you should involve a solicitor early in the process. If you are not sure what sorts of issues you should be thinking about take legal advice before committing yourself to any sort of costs or legal obligations as, otherwise, you might find yourself with a site that you cannot use for its intended purpose.

Our dedicated team of solicitors, based in Witney, Oxfordshire, would be happy to answer your questions.

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