Our Service

If you own land that has potential for development, our expert team can help you. Our renowned and award-winning real estate team is one of the largest commercial property teams in the North West and is consistently ranked as a Tier 1 Department by the Legal 500. We believe that development projects are team efforts, both internally within our real estate team and, more importantly, with our clients. We understand that your prime concern will be to maximise the value of your land whilst minimising the risk of a developer taking advantage of you and this drives our approach from the outset.

Our team of property development solicitors can assist you with the sale of land for any scale of development, whether that is residential development or commercial development. This could range from a homeowner selling part of their garden for the construction of a single house through to clients with large landholdings often within the agricultural sector, who sell land for large-scale housing developments or industrial units. We do not just act for private clients in this sector, we also act for businesses who own land which has potential for development. This might include the sale and redevelopment of existing commercial buildings that might have scope for redevelopment for example old mill buildings or commercial sites which will be demolished to make way for new industrial or office developments.

Our Approach

Our in-depth knowledge and commercial experience mean that our land development lawyers are best placed to advise you on the issues we foresee with any particular project and to guide you through the often complex negotiations which are required to properly protect your position. We are pro-active problem solvers who will explain things to you in plain English, not jargon.

In particular, we can:

  • Discuss with you any approaches you have received from developers.
  • Work with you and any surveyor or selling agent that you appoint to agree on the principal terms of the transaction (these are often referred to as Heads of Terms).
  • Act on an exclusivity agreement. This is a short-term agreement to give the developer comfort that you won't deal with other parties during an agreed period of time. This is often requested because the developer will incur costs in carrying out surveys and inspections of the site and perhaps preparing a planning application.
  • Act on the grant of a licence to the developer to allow entry to your property for carrying out specified surveys, including ground investigations. We will always make sure the developer has to leave the property in the state they found it.
  • Act on a Promotion Agreement. This is an agreement where you and the promoter share the profits if they can obtain planning consent for your land. We will ensure that the promoter has to consult with you and listen to what you have to say.
  • Act on the sale of your property.
  • Advise on any overage provisions. Overage is a method by which the price you receive for your property can be increased at a later date if specified events happen, for example, if someone obtains further planning consent during an agreed period of time.
  • Advise on title issues that may impact the potential development of your property. This might include reviewing issues relating to access to and from the property or dealing with restrictive covenants on the title to the property which might restrict future use of the property.
  • Advise on option agreements.
  • Advise on conditional contracts.
  • Advise on planning agreements which might include Section 278 Agreements under the Highways Act and Section 106 Agreements under the planning legislation. These agreements would generally be dealt with by the developer but, as the landowner, you might be required to join in as a party to the agreement. We would ensure that you receive sufficient comfort that the agreement will not affect you prior to the sale of the property unless you yourself implemented any planning consent that had been granted.

Examples of recent transactions

  • The sale of land in central Manchester by a large regional children’s charity for a large-scale housing development by a national housebuilder.
  • The sale of land in North Lancashire used for part agricultural and part business/industrial use to a national housebuilder.
  • The sale of land in Cheshire to facilitate the development of a community sports club.
  • The sale of a warehouse business premises in Manchester for development as residential apartments, forming part of a much larger regeneration project in the city centre, including a hotel, offices and public amenities. 
  • The sale of land owned by a family trust initially used as farmland in North Staffordshire to a national housebuilder.
  • Granting an option over part of a large garden in Cheshire to a local housebuilder, which included an obligation on the developer to extend the landowner’s property, upgrade their access and create a new communal driveway.
  • Advising on the conditional sale of a garden plot to a first-time developer in a conservation area, including advising on the imposition of additional restrictive covenants to reflect the landowner’s particular views on what would constitute acceptable development.

FAQs

If I am approached by a developer who is applying pressure on me to sign an agreement now should I sign?

No, not without taking any professional advice. Your land is a valuable asset and you should seek professional help before signing any agreement. If you are being pressurised to sign something, please feel free to telephone us and we can provide immediate initial advice to you.

What are heads of terms?

The heads of terms are the main terms agreed in principle between you and the developer before the preparation of the contract. They should set out all the key details relating to the amount of land being sold, the valuation method for that land and the timings for the transaction. They would normally be prepared by a land agent or surveyor.

What is the difference between an option agreement and a conditional contract?

An option agreement is an agreement between you and a developer under which the developer can purchase the property on agreed terms at any time during a specified period. Sometimes the developer will pay a fixed fee to you for entering into the opinion agreement. Under an option agreement, you have no guarantee that the land will be bought by the developer during the option period.

A conditional contract, in contrast, is a contract that is binding on both parties to sell and buy the property provided that certain conditions are satisfied. We often find with the development of property that the key condition will relate to the grant of planning consent for the proposed development. Under a conditional contract, if the conditions are satisfied, then both parties will be bound to sell and buy the property.

If I enter into an option agreement or conditional contract, can I expect the developer to pay an option fee and all my professional costs?

This will depend on the terms negotiated between the parties, however many landowners are able to agree option fees. These might compensate you for the restriction on selling your property to any other party during the period of the option agreement and any other restrictions the developer might want to impose on what you can do with the property.

Landowners are often able to negotiate the payment of all or part of their professional costs in dealing with an option agreement or conditional contract and this would be negotiated on your behalf by your land agent or surveyor.

Can you recommend a surveyor or land agent to act on our behalf?

Yes, we have experience working with many property professionals including specialists in the sale of land which has potential for development. We can make recommendations to you of professionals who might be suitable, so that you can speak to them and decide whether or not you would like to ask them to act on your behalf. The decision as to who you wish to act on your behalf is entirely yours.

Will the developer want access to my land before a contract is exchanged and what would they want to do to it?

It is quite likely that before committing to purchasing land or incurring costs in putting forward a planning application, the developer might wish to carry out ground investigations to ensure that the land is not contaminated and to ensure that the actual land will be suitable for building. Access would normally be granted to the developer in a licence document, which would include restrictions on when the land can be accessed. It would also include obligations on the developer to make good any damage caused during the investigations.

What is overage/clawback?

The terms overage and clawback are used to describe the situation where land is sold by you to a developer for a fixed price, but further payments are made by the developer to you in the event that agreed conditions are satisfied at a later stage.

The most common condition for the trigger of an overage payment is the grant of a planning consent for development of the property. The use of overage allows you to sell the property for an immediate income but with the comfort of knowing that on the future grant of planning consent and development of the land a share of the enhanced value of the land will be passed back to the you. The terms relating to overage agreements can be complex and would include agreement on how to calculate any increase in value and the further payments then due during the overage period as well as how often and in what circumstances a payment will be triggered.

What are restrictive covenants and how might they affect my land?

Land is often burdened by agreements made in the past which continue to affect the land. Restrictive covenants are often used to restrict the future use of land and can be a barrier to development. Common restrictive covenants might require that the land is not used other than, for example, agricultural use. We can examine and advise on the title to the property and discuss with you the best approach to take to deal with such covenants. Other title issues that might be of relevance would include access to the property, and the effect of an increase in use of an existing right of way or right to use service media that run through the land.

Do you just deal with property in the Altrincham area?

No, not at all, we act for landowners all over England and Wales and will be able to assist you no matter where you are within those countries.

Testimonials

Meet Our Specialists

Home-grown or recruited from national, regional or City firms. Our specialists are experts in their fields and respected by their peers.

Joanne Perritt

Joanne Perritt

Joanne is a Partner and Head of our Commercial Property department

Mark Gillies

Mark Gillies

Mark is a Partner in our Commercial Property department

Andrew Chapman

Andrew Chapman

Andrew is a Partner in our Commercial Property department

Ian Gordon

Ian Gordon

Ian is a Legal Director in our Commercial Property department

Sarah Fecitt

Sarah Fecitt

Sarah is a Senior Associate in our Commercial Property department

Joanne Cookson

Joanne Cookson

Joanne is a Senior Associate within our Commercial Property department

James Minshull

James Minshull

James is a Senior Associate in our Commercial Property department

Cindy Bishop

Cindy Bishop

Cindy is an Associate in our Commercial Property department

Charlotte Hook

Charlotte Hook

Charlotte is an Associate in our Commercial Property department

Emily Sutherland

Emily Sutherland

Emily is an Associate in our Commercial Property department.

Sarah McNair

Sarah McNair

Sarah is an Associate in our Commercial Property department

Sidrah Ashraf

Sidrah Ashraf

Sidrah is an Associate in the Commercial Property department

Hannah Owens

Hannah Owens

Hannah is a Trainee Solicitor within our Commercial Property department

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0161 941 4000