When you're thinking about buying some land, you will undoubtedly have a reason for doing so and will usually want to develop the plot in some way. Of course, not every piece of land is suitable for your purpose from a topographic or practical point of view, nor from a legal perspective. While you can narrow your choices down and eliminate unsuitable candidates by working with your engineers and designers, you will still need to get the right information to tell you what you can and cannot do from a planning perspective. How do you do this?
Getting Basic Information
The first thing you should do is get hold of a planning certificate for each piece of land you're looking at. This will give you a high-level review of its suitability, as it will itemise any rules and restrictions laid down by the planning authorities. However, the information contained within the basic certificate is very limited, and you will certainly need to look beyond this document.
The planning certificate can be rather difficult to understand, as it is full of legal terminology, and it will not go into detail to help you fully understand your position. Furthermore, it won't give you any information about your neighbours and whether they have any restrictions that may affect your development down the road.
Zoning and Overlays
This type of document will fully identify whether the property is part of an official planning scheme and, if so, name the responsible authority. Furthermore, it must tell you if the land is subject to any zoning restrictions and if any planning overlays will affect your aspirations.
In truth, almost every piece of available land will be part of one planning scheme or the other, as most local councils segregate land in this way. Typically, they will group them together in similar zones, so all the land in one area may be available for residential development but not eligible for anything of a commercial nature.
How to Get the Finer Detail
You can certainly start off by getting a planning certificate for each piece of land you're looking at, as you may know right away that it's not suitable. However, if the certificate meets with your requirements in principle, you will need to dig down to gather much more information. Have a word with your conveyancing solicitor, who will be able to develop a more granular report complete with all the rules linked to zoning restrictions or overlays