Developments are nothing without the soil upon which they’re built, and for that reason land acquisition has been an essential part of how we have operated for more than 40 years.

This is one of the most pivotal and nuanced aspects of what we do, because it’s not just about buying a plot; it’s a strategic dance of foresight, negotiation and vision. At LW Developments, we understand that acquiring the right land sets the stage for creating vibrant, sustainable schemes that stand the test of time.

Let’s look at the art of land acquisition and how it shapes the future we build.

Vision beyond the horizon: the lay of the land

First of all, you need to assess the land. Here are a few things you should consider:

  • Does the land already have planning permission?
  • Does its position make it suitable for development?
  • Is it in the Green Belt or any other restricted area?
  • Is it in an area affected by flooding?
  • Is the land large enough for development?

All of these are factors that will help you establish whether the land is worth acquiring for your purposes, and whether the price being demanded is fair. The first question in particular can greatly affect the value of land you may be seeking to acquire.

Risk and reward: planning permission

In short, getting planning permission takes time, paperwork and money, and the easiest option for a landowner looking to sell is to offer the site without planning permission. This also means the sale price will be far lower, because any developer buying the land runs the risk of being denied planning permission.

Does the developer go ahead and purchase the plot in the hope that permission for development will be forthcoming, or look elsewhere?

An alternative is a “subject to planning permission” contract, whereby a buyer agrees to acquire the land but will only complete the deal if he or she can gain planning permission. The seller thereby avoids the planning process and the buyer removes the element of risk. But this slows down the transaction greatly, as both parties must wait until the planning permission application is dealt with.

If the landowner has already secured planning permission for development on the land, this makes things easier for you as a developer and removes a lot of the risk, but it also means you will have to spend more money to acquire the site.

Yet another possibility is an option agreement, whereby a landowner gives a developer the opportunity (but not the obligation) to buy a certain site within a certain timeframe. The developer then works on the landowner’s behalf to secure planning permission, and bears all the costs and fees associated with planning and promoting the site. If permission is granted, the return for the developer is a share of the site value once it is sold with planning permission (or a reduction to the purchase price if the developer itself buys the land). An advantage of this approach is that you and the seller have a common goal of maximising the land’s value.

The next level: potential and possibilities

At LW Developments, we see ourselves as the storytellers of tomorrow’s communities. We are a family-owned company with more than 40 years of experience in acquiring and developing land. Every plot has a story, and before we even think about laying a single brick, we think about the possibilities for each location.

Whether it’s creating a sports hub, a strategic site or leafy streets of family homes, we’re able to see when a site has development potential, and then do the hard work to unlock it.

If you’re looking to take a plot of land to the next level, get in touch.


Dean Williamson

Dean Williamson MRICS