Which land is the right land?
brownfield-or-greenfield-land

Which land is the right land?

When considering going down the route of building your own home, one of the biggest and first steps will be buying the land on which you are going to build! But an important consideration will be what type of land you are going to buy, there are two major categories of land in England, one being “green belt” and the other “brown belt”.

You might be wondering what exactly these phrases mean? Green belt land was introduced through some legislation and was intended to protect the countryside by controlling the sprawl of towns and cities. Nowadays, England has a renowned reputation for being a vast green paradise, which is why often any suggestion that Green belt land is to be built on is met with robust protests.

Brown belt land, also known as previously developed land, on the other hand, is described as land which was once or is occupied by a permanent structure, including the land immediately surrounding it.

Brown Belt

If you find the land of your dreams that you want to build your house on, or if you’re a developer and you want to build a new housing complex on some land that happens to be brown belt land, there are certain attributes to developing brown belt land that you may want to be aware of;

1.. Your home/ the homes you build will likely be closer to jobs and existing physical and social infrastructure.

    • The result of this close proximity is that it may be easier for you to cycle to work/ walk, and also there will likely be more public transport options when compared to building in a really rural area.
    • Improves the public space and community of the area, by creating vibrant communities, towns and cities with plenty of activities to take part in.
    • You can potentially save on costs with regards to roads and utilities as it is more likely to be connected to pre-existing ones.

2.. Enhancing the community and your home environment, as there will be more neighbours, which can decrease the chances of crime.

3.. There is the potential that you may have access to extra funding schemes or be granted planning permission quicker.

4..Building on this kind of land will help to conserve rural and agricultural land, which in turn will protect the habitats this provides and the ecological benefits.

5.. Building on any land will undoubtedly throw some unexpected challenges your way, which will give you the exciting opportunity to get creative when you are building to overcome these and to create some interest to the landscape through striking design.

6.. Through going down the self-build route, you may have the opportunity to use some smaller suppliers, which will create diversity in the suppliers used in the area.

7.. There is also an opportunity if you are developing brown belt land to accommodate a larger capacity of people in the area.

Challenges with Brown Belt

As with any previously developed site, there will be certain challenges as well as opportunities, some particular points to keep in mind are;

  • If the previous development is still standing on the land when you buy it, you will have to factor in the cost of clearing this from the site and stripping it back to bare land.
  • The more challenging the plot of land you buy the more committed you may have to be to the design and detail of your new home. Another point here is that the more complicated the design the more your overall spend may increase, as the build may require more advanced building techniques to overcome and geographical challenges the plot poses.
  • If you buy an old commercial/ industrial site you may end up with a lonely looking property in an unattractive surrounding.
  • Another factor to consider is who your neighbours are and whether any of the plans for your dream property will affect them, as then you may need to negotiate with them to ensure your keeping them happy so that you don’t move in on bad terms.

If you are a developer the crucial point to take away may be the added cost of clearing the site if there is previous construction on the site initially. However, there are many positives, one being conserving the environment and green areas, whilst still being able to develop land/ build your own home, another being added ease of gaining planning permission as the land has been previously built on.

Green Belt

As mentioned above, green belt land is land that is preserved as green untouched countryside, to attempt to control the development of towns to the extent that it would be swallowed up. The government and councils remain fairly committed to this purpose.

There are benefits to developing/ building on this type of land, such as;

  • Believe it or not, not all green belt land is green! There are some designated areas that house small communities, which may have room to be further developed within their boundaries, in which case this may provide the perfect balance of seclusion and community.
  • You do not need to feel too guilty for building on a green belt site, as building on one area may allow another to receive greater protection, which may also be a more environmentally significant site as well.
  • As the land will have never been previously developed, you will not have the hassle of clearing the land first before you can start construction, of any existing structures.
  • This type of land provides the perfect opportunity to live rurally , surrounded by nature, if that is something you’ve always dreamed of, then buying green belt may be the way to go for you!
  • By developing rural areas, you provide greater diversity within them, and create more of a rich community providing more activities to take part in.

Challenges with Green Belt

As with brown belt land, there are also some disadvantages to developing green belt land that you should be aware of if it is something you are considering;

  • The loss of England’s renowned and beautiful countryside, and any negative effect this may have on the ecological system it supports.
  • You may end up with the house of dreams, but you may feel very isolated from surrounding infrastructure, and community if you build too remotely.
  • Your road network may be less developed to get to surrounding towns and cities, and more traffic on then may mean that they are running at more than capacity.
  • Building on natural land may result in a reduction in surfaces that can absorb rainwater, that helps with drainage.
  • You may face a backlash of public opinion, of the people who fiercely defend England’s green belt land!

Choosing between both types may be a tough call for you to make! It is hard to justify “spoiling” the English countryside, but you may not be doing this by adding to a rural community, bringing more diversity and vibrancy to the area.

There are certainly advantages and difficulties with both types of land, but regardless of which type you decide to buy to build your dream house on, by instructing an experienced solicitor this will make your purchase run much more smoothly and will help you to find the right land for you at the best price!

To find out more about how a solicitor will help you through the process of buying land, and how the process will actually run, please read our blog entitled “how to buy land not bricks”.

Disclaimer – our articles are designed to give you guidance and information.  There is no substitute for proper direct advice, particularly as everyone’s circumstances are different.  If anything in this article may affect you, please contact us for advice that is specific to your circumstances.

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