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Development sites - pay them a proper visit

05 November 2016

Development sites have a tendency to throw up ‘interesting issues’ with almost infinite variety. It might be bats, or slow worms. It could be an adjoining owner having annexed what they considered to be no man’s land. May be it’s an old oil barrel full of ‘something green’. Our standing advice is to ‘expect the unexpected’.

If spotted early enough these issues often stay just that – ‘interesting issues’ that can easily be dealt with. If spotted too late, however, they can cause anything from a mild headache to a very expensive disaster.

Parties should always carefully inspect any site they propose to develop. This should always occur before they exchange to buy the land – after that point it’s usually too late to pull out or re-negotiate the price. An interesting issue spotted before you have exchanged contracts is usually someone else’s problem to resolve. An interesting issue spotted after you exchange contracts is almost always all yours.

So, in addition to our possibly unhelpful advice of expecting the unexpected, our more practice advice is always, without fail, rain or shine, come what may, carefully inspect.

We have set out below a checklist of the sorts of things (in no order of priority) that you should have in mind on every site visit, regardless of the site’s location, size or nature. When attending a site we would suggest you take with you the following so that you can keep checking what the site actually looks like compared to what you think that the site should look like:

  • a colour copy of the Land Registry title plan; and
  • a copy of the development proposals (or at least an idea of what these are – e.g. location of buildings, size and height of buildings, etc.).
Please click 'download files' to read the full Insight.

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