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Finding Land

This takes a great deal of perseverance because we live in such a close packed country where land prices are relatively high. Alongside this is the Green Belt planning policy which makes it very difficult to get planning permission in areas which are not already built up

Green Principles

  • Avoid locations which involve long journeys for commuting, shopping, schools, etc. Try to find a plot of land close to good public transport services. Many are the arguments about when the world hits ‘Peak Oil’ or whether that point has already been passed. Either way the results of reaching peak oil are likely to make commuting long distances from the countryside into town a much more expensive business (though possibly more pleasurable for those who can afford it). There are more deep reaching consequences for those who don’t own vehicles in terms of shopping, health care etc and also for the general cultural well-being of rural areas.
  • Go for a brownfield site or previously used land. See Habitat protection and land remediation. The book A Pattern Language has a section on remediation and building on the worst land rather than on beautiful countryside or environmentally sensitive areas.

Finding Sites For Sale

Whether you are an individual self builder or part of a group, finding plots of land can be an extremely hit and miss affair, mainly because it is hard to know when land is coming up for sale in a locality you want and at a price you can afford. The ways of finding land are:

  • Local newspaper adverts. This is still a common way for people to advertise land although the ad will probably pop up in the local estate agent as well. Some local newspapers have listings of properties and land on their web sites. UK newspaper links can be found at British Media Online
  • Estate agents. Land adverts usually show up with local estate agents because prospective buyers will want to come to the area and view the land. However, estate agents are in something of a dilemma at the moment (a bit like travel agents) because the Internet is making information much more widely available. For this reason various companies are setting up web-based land finders. Find lists of estate agents here.
  • Local authorities. A bill has now gone through parliament which puts an onus on local authorities to keep a register of people interested in acquiring land for self build and help make land available
    see summary of the bill

    Summary of the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015

    A Bill to place a duty on local authorities to keep a register of individuals and community groups who have expressed an interest in acquiring land to bring forward self-build and custom-build projects and to take account of and make provision for the interests of those on such registers in developing their housing initiatives and their local plans; to allow volume house builders to include self-build and custom-build projects as contributing towards their affordable housing obligations, when in partnership for this purpose with a Registered Social Landlord; and for connected purposes.

  • Word of mouth. This can be a surprisingly effective way of finding land, especially if you are acquainted with a few people in the area of interest. Potential vendors may be approachable and may be keen to know who might be a neighbour and what kind of building is proposed, rather than putting land up for sale on the open market.
  • Walking and cycling. For some strange reason you often see more when you are moving slowly. You might spot buildings that need renovating or bump into people who have something for sale. It’s often walking around and chatting that pays off.

The government has recently launched the Self Build Portal which has a page on finding building plots and it has also announced an increase in its ‘Right to Build‘ scheme in certain areas of the country.  So the following areas have been awarded vanguard status:

  • Cherwell District Council
  • Exmoor and Dartmoor National Park Authorities
  • Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Pendle Borough Council
  • Sheffield City Council
  • Shropshire Council
  • South Cambridgeshire District Council
  • South Norfolk District Council
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council
  • Teignbridge District Council
  • West Lindsey District Council

Land for community groups – government stimulus

There are several  initiatives now in place which may favour community self build:

  • Community Right to Build. New measures to help with planning permission  “The new powers give communities the freedom to build new homes, shops, businesses or facilities where they want them, without going through the normal planning application process.” see more.
  • Community Land Trusts   “Currently, community groups in England (outside London) can apply for funding to help them to formally establish themselves, prepare their development proposals and submit a Community Right to Build Order under the Localism Act 2011.  see more

There is also a strong government stimulus in the form of the new housing strategy, Laying the Foundations. Local authorities are now supposed to actively assess the likely needs of local self build groups, identify potential building plots which are under their control and help make them available.

The New Economics Foundation has recently published a guide –

How to make the case for community-led housing on public land – A guide for community groups

3 comments to Finding Land

  • Mark Spence

    I have a 3 bedroom house with a derelict barn sitting on an acre of land in the Highlands. 35 mins from Skye Bridge and 5 mins from village of Lochcarron.
    The Barn has planning permission.
    I am selling up however would like to see the barn get converted even if its not by me!
    If your interested phone on 07825004931 anytime



  • Ian Ashman

    We have recently gained outline planning permission for 6 detached dwellings on a fairly large piece of land in Ogmore-by-Sea, Vale of Glamorgan. The plots are a 2 minute walk to the beach and heritage coastline, and all are sea facing. They would suit anyone wanting to design and build own home in a very desirable area offering a fantastic lifestyle.
    Tel. 07786654098 if interested.
    Posted 30/8/13

  • Alun Fowler

    Hi I have a brownfield site in a rural location on the outskirts of Cardiff which has planing permission for 8 properties, this would seem ideal for an Eco community build if anyone is interested, you can call me on 07802310116 anytime


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