Ask in your chosen area. Many plots don't reach the open market and in order to hear about them you will need to be resourceful and active. Consider placing a sign on the village notice board briefly outlining what you are looking for, or writing to the Parish Council. However, you will need to define the area quite specifically. It is also worth asking local landowners or perhaps those with big gardens on the edge of a settlement.
Is your own garden eligible for planning approval? Could you buy land from your neighbour to add to your site and create a viable plot? Perhaps you have seen a house for sale sitting in a large garden and can ascertain from the local authority or estate agent if the garden could be built on. With the pressure to build more houses, local communities and the planning authority are looking at all avenues – and should be supporting self-build and custom homes.
Stay in regular contact with local estate agents who specialise in plot/land sales and have good local connections and reputations. It is important that they think of you when they are instructed to sell a plot or hear about potential plots. Visit them in person and leave a brief outline of your requirements, contact details and budget. Call them periodically and explain that you would consider replacement projects, plots, houses with large gardens.
Keep abreast of planning applications in your chosen area via the local authority website. Follow their progress and outcome. It may be worth approaching the applicant or their agent to register your interest in the site before planning is determined. Larger development schemes may need 'self builders' to satisfy policy, so mixed developments might be able help achieve planning approval - or if a conventional scheme is strugging to meet planning officer's objectives perhaps an element of custom build could unlock the stalemate.
Speak to the Parish Council and the Neighbourhood Development Plan Team in your chosen area and check your Local Authority Development strategy document - are they including new land for development, is it specifically for self builders? Let them know what you would like to do and make representations to make them aware that you are looking for a self build opportunity and how this might suit or enhance their community. Perhaps they can adapt their development plan to include self/custom build or maybe they can allocate land for this pupose. Local NDP's are there to meet housing delivery targets in a way that best suits that community and most would prefer single or smaller self and custom build projects to a large estate of brick boxes.
Does your Local Authority have a Self-Build/Custom Home Register yet? 'The Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015' proactively supports self building and asks local authorities to produce planning strategies to increase and facilitate self building opportunities (as recommended by the National Planning Policy Framework). So check what your authority has a Register in place to meet these obligations. If they have a register, sign up and stay active. The Local Authority will need to demonstrate that provision was made for potential self builders by finding and delivering plots upon which to buld. Lots of communities, landowners and developers (including Border Oak) are looking to bring collective self build projects forward on small to medium schemes – but some proactive areas also have larger self build projects such as www.gravenhill.co.uk
Ask your local builder - he may know of plots he has been asked to look at, quote for or possibly own plots himself. Understandably, he may wish to do some of the building work but we would be pleased to work with him to help achieve this if the site works for you.
He may have, or know of, several plots and some of these could be suitable for ‘self build’ or a mixed delivery scheme - many small builders would be keen to split a development and have the option to sell a plot or two more quickly. Likewise a landowner may consider a joint scheme - perhaps they have the land and want to build themselves, but need another family to buy a plot from them to help facilitate.
Consider ugly houses in great locations. Most Local Authorities will allow replacement dwellings where you can demolish an old bungalow or tatty house and replace it with a new building. This is often the best way to find a plot on its own, in larger surroundings. It may already have mature gardens and be connected to services. Replacement projects are a popular source of building plots but always check with your Planning Department before pursuing the purchase as the project may need to be ‘like for like’.