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Richard Phillips is a partner in our agricultural property department and writes this helpful article. He is often approached by clients with regards to  buying land adjacent or near to their houses.

Richard writes:

These can be plots where a neighbour sells a small piece of garden (for instance to form a bigger back garden) or parcels (larger pieces of land) where for instance you have got land adjoining open fields where the local farmer will sell off an extra parcel of land to you to form a much larger garden or paddocks where you might buy land to graze sheep or ponies or horses.


Very often a neighbour will be willing to sell you a plot, the sum will normally be perhaps between £1,000 – £5,000.

On top of the purchase price there is a normal expectation by the seller that you will pay their legal costs as well.  Although there is no rational reason for this it seems to be that they are effectively granting you a favour so they expect you not only to pay the price but their legal costs.

My legal costs in dealing with the conveyancing are likely to be quite high in comparison to the purchase price.  For example if you are buying a piece of land/plot for £5,000 then my fees would be perhaps £1,500 plus VAT, plus disbursements.  The reason for this is that the conveyancing can be far more complex than buying a house outright because there will have to be various matters dealt with in the transfer of land or the plot to you.

Those matters might include reserving rights for instance to run existing drains or pipes under the plot of land being sold to get those rights of access and also possible restrictions over the plot being sold to you for use in the future which might for instance restrict the usage.  For instance you might be allowed to build a greenhouse or tool-shed but not another house.  There can also be limits on the heights of building and the ground area covered.

The other point that to be borne in mind is that professionally drawn plans will need to be prepared.  It is not possible or appropriate to use hand drawn plans as this will cause considerable problems at the Land Registry when I come to register the purchase of the plot and the Land Registry may refuse to register it because the plans are not compliant with their regulations.


You may have a situation where an adjoining farmer or other landowner will be willing to sell you an additional parcel of land adjacent to your boundaries.  Similar considerations apply as if you were buying a plot however you should also consider the planning aspects.  If the parcel being sold is currently used as a field then it is classed in planning purposes for agriculture.  If you wish to turn that land into a garden that requires change of use and you will need to apply for planning permission as otherwise the Council may force you to convert any new garden back to agricultural land and leave it just at grass.  People frequently forget the planning aspect.


Clients also approach me to buy larger pieces of land adjacent to their house often for either use as an extra garden or orchard or for grazing livestock or horses or ponies.  Similar considerations as regards planning apply if you are going to use that paddock as part of the garden.

If you are going to use that paddock for grazing horses or ponies then that may constitute a change of use.   The law as regards grazing of horses and ponies is quite complicated in planning terms.  If you are merely using the land to graze the ponies or horses then that may not constitute a change of use from agriculture.  In this context agriculture means the growing of crops or raising of livestock.  Horses do not fall into the category of agriculture because in this country we do not graze horses or ponies for meat production and there is an argument as to whether or not the breeding of horses commercially constitutes agriculture.

If you are therefore buying land for grazing it may be something to discuss with the planning department.  If the land is only being used for grazing horses and ponies it is unlikely for there to be an objection.

Objections would arise however if you were planning to build stables on the land or training areas or sets of jumps.


Rebecca Procter 2

How we can help

If you need help with a matter relating to the purchase of a plots, parcel or paddock, our team of professionals are here to help you and guide you through the process.

Richard Phillips is a partner in our agricultural property department and a specialist in these transactions. 

Contact [email protected]

Or call 01392 539198

Wollens has offices in Torquay, Exeter and Barnstaple in Devon.

Richard Phillips – Partner, Agricultural property