Our residential development lawyers regularly act for landowners who have varying degrees of experience of strategic land agreements. For most, the opportunity to sell their land for development purposes is a significant financial transaction which does not arise on more than one occasion. In these circumstances, we appreciate that our landowner clients may feel uneasy when faced with the complex and unfamiliar issues which arise in such transactions, particularly when the other party in the transaction is a national housebuilder or established land promoter who has a number of similar transactions on the go at any point in time. We further appreciate the likely financial and emotional significance of the matter to you.
We have considerable experience in all types of strategic land agreements as well as those relevant to the more imminent disposals of land both of which can be structured in a variety of ways. For example a housebuilder or land promoter’s offer could be conditional on the attainment of a satisfactory planning permission. This will require the disposal contract to include comprehensive obligations on the developer in to detain that planning permission. It is not unusual for the calculation of the purchase price to involve a complex formula which looks to equalise land values and the developer may wish to defer payment of a proportion of the purchase price etc. Further, where the proposed development is of a significant size, it is also possible multiple landowners will need to be involved in the transaction adding another layer of complexity. We are comfortable dealing with these more complex and involved elements of a transaction just as we are comfortable acting on the full range of developments, from one or two unit schemes to those resulting in the creation of whole new settlements.
Our extensive experience in this area and our understanding of the relevant issues allows us to offer you the specialist legal advice you may need to put yourself on an equal footing with the experienced and well-resourced housebuilder or land promoter.
Some of the types of agreements and arrangements which our residential development lawyers can advise you on are:-
- Lock-out/exclusivity agreements
- Conditional and unconditional contracts for the sale of land
- Option agreements
- Planning promotion and marketing and sales agreements
- Hybrid agreements
- Acquisition and/or granting of rights, easements and covenants over land
- Release and/or variation of rights, easements and covenants affecting land
- Overage and clawback arrangements
- Pre-emption agreements
- Landowner/Equalisation agreements
- Land Pool Trusts
We can work closely with your retained accountants and tax advisers. We draw on the particular expertise of our colleagues in our Private Client and Corporate teams to ensure any proposed development land transaction is structured in the most tax efficient method (both in terms of inheritance tax and capital gains tax).
We also have a strong heritage of working with farmers and farming families and a depth of understanding of the particular challenges and opportunities within the agricultural sector. This, combined with our commercial strength and expertise means that we are well placed to advise those in the agricultural sector looking to diversify their portfolio by offering or promoting part of their land for development.
We appreciate that in many instances where an agricultural landowner is disposing of land for development they will often wish to reinvest the proceeds of sale in a further agricultural holding or holdings. In these circumstances it is important for the landowner to have a strong team of advisers to help facilitate the transition and in doing so mitigate any potential tax liabilities so far as reasonably possible.
Consequently, we also regularly involve colleagues in our agricultural team to advise on the reinvestment. We also seek assistance from our agricultural team on the implications of any farming tenants which may be in occupation of the property, any security of tenure issues which may arise as a consequence, formalising relationships with any farming tenants by way of a Farm Business Tenancy or similar structure, and ensuring delivery of vacant possession of the property on or prior to the successful conclusion of the proposed development agreement.
Recent examples of where we have assisted landowners in their development transaction are:
- Acting for a farming family in relation to a large strategic land promotion agreement with a national land promoter. The promotion agreement extended to over 250 acres of land intended as a new settlement and is typical of the sort of strategic land agreements on which we have been advising in recent years. As well as the specialised land promotion agreement itself, the transaction was complicated by the fact that a number of adjoining landowners will need to be involved in the wider planning promotion for the new settlement.
- Acting for a landowner in both the sale of part of his agricultural landholding to a national housebuilder for the development of up to 150 dwellings and his related purchase of a new agricultural holding/business of approximately 100 hectares of land. This transaction involved a number of our lawyers across multiple disciplines including Residential Development, Agriculture and Corporate to achieve a successful sale and purchase within very tight timescales. The sale and purchase involved a number of complex elements including deferred payment, infrastructure obligations, agricultural tenancies, overage, parent company guarantees and so on.
- Acting for a landowner in the sale of part of his property with the benefit of outline planning permission for up to 75 dwellings to national housebuilder. The deal was particularly complex and involved liaising with a land promoter, securing deferred payment by way of a legal charge, retention of part of the purchase price and securing a host of post-completion planning and infrastructure obligations.