The desire for space and lifestyle changes that dominated the UK housing market since it exploded out of lockdown more than 18 months ago remains strong and still continues to shape house price growth, especially in the countryside. 

For many people, working from home has become the new norm and has given some the freedom to buy homes further afield and with more outdoor space, larger gardens and even substantial acreage.  This huge rise in demand for substantial acreage comes from various reasons: seeking more privacy is the main one, but many people have been looking for larger grounds to accommodate various recreational facilities such as a tennis court or a swimming pool, not to mention having a large vegetable garden, planting an orchard or even keeping animals such as horses, ponies or even chickens. 

As West Country property search agents we are often approached for assistance in finding such properties with land largely due to the many factors involved with buying land that are quite different to simply buying a house with a garden. The differences in language used, potential restrictions, usage and rights of way often leave buyers seeking assurance and the ability to make a well-informed decision with professional guidance. 

Let’s have a look at what buying a property with a large plot of land entails, what the various implications are, and what pitfalls to avoid. 

Use Class

The devil is in the detail when it comes to buying a property with substantial amount of land, acreage, pastures or paddocks. 

The very first question one needs to ask is: what is the current usage for the property? Is it classified as a residential dwelling? Or a commercial one (i.e. farm)? 

And as importantly what is the current use class for the acreage (i.e agricultural land, paddocks, pastures, arable land…). 

Property with a couple of acres of land attached to it are usually uncomplicated and fairly straightforward from a purchase point of view (unless there are major restrictions on the title or nasty covenants attached to it such as an overage clause).

But if you are looking to purchase a property with 20 acres of more of land for example, then you might face a slightly more complex purchase that will require a higher amount of due diligence. Properties with such acreage often falls into the category of small farms/estates and can come with a set of complications and challenges. 

My advice to any buyers is to seek advice from specialists on the subject: solicitors versed with land acquisition will be able to assist you, but your first point of call might be to speak with an experienced property buying agent dealing with country property acquisitions

Permitted Development

The very first consideration when buying land is to determine what you will (and won’t) eventually be allowed to do with it and to do so, one has to define precisely the curtilage (boundaries of the residential part of the property) so as to have an accurate plan of where the agricultutal parts are and stop. 

Don’t be foolish into thinking that planning permission will be easily granted to turn that vast land into whatever you like, there are strict rules associated with land development and consultations will a planning consultant is essential to make sure your grand plans of adding a garage, a tennis court, a swimming pool, a helipad or several cottages don’t turn into a big disappointment! 


Large farms and country houses with acreage often come for sale with additional outbuildings such as barns, stables, dog kernels or grain stores just to name a few. It is consequently essential to establish the category each outbuilding fall into: residential, agricultural, commercial or brownfield. 

Different rules and restrictions will apply for each outbuilding and will dictate what you can or cannot do with it. And if the main residential farmhouse is listed (grade I or II) then there is also a strong chance that some of the outbuildings are too!

Another key consideration is the location of the property, and in particular if the property you intend to purchase is located in a Conservation Area or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Engaginng an expert planning consultant will be instrumental to get a full appraisal of the possibility and restrictions associated with the various outbuildings. 

Funding Route to Purchase

This is something not many buyers are aware of when looking to purchase a property with subtstantial land and acreage: many residential mortgages won’t lend on the land element of the purchase, meaning they will only lend on the residential dwelling and its curtilage. 

The appetite for lending will very much vary from one lender to another, and will depend on the size of land attached to the property as well as the amount of equity you are bringing, with each lender having their own criteria (i.e lender only lending on 5 acres max). 

This can consequently make a purchase less straightforward in terms of securing finance, so best to engage a whole of market mortgage broker with experience in facilitating such types of property transactions to secure you the best mortgages and terms. 

Access and Tracks

As with all purchases, access to the land being bought is a key factor: where are the gates located? How are they accessed from, and by whom?

Buyers will need to check whether there are any footpaths and bridleways across the land too. As the landowner you will have responsibilities to maintain them and keep them safe for walkers and also cyclists (they are also permitted to use bridleways).

And if you wish to change the course of a particular path, this is not straightforward either. As always, seek professional advice!

Buying Wodlands

With any purchase of land it is important to consider many factors such as approvals – don’t just assume that your proposed woodland creation scheme can be achieved without any form of approval. Site of special scientific interest status for example can severly restrict what you can do with a site. 

Thomas Kirkman, Partner at leading London law firm Farrer & Co has wrote more on the subject, incuding grant schemes and the implicatons of owning woodland, in this very comprehensive article:

Other Implications and Considerations

When buying property with land that is currently rented out to local farmers as pasture for their flock of sheep to graze on, or for country sports activities, one needs to be clear about whether to continue with the current arrangements or alternatively to terminate it. This is where diplomacy is key as it might not be as straightforward as one would have anticipated and seeking legal advice is paramount. 

Appointing an experienced solicitor with proven experience in rural property acquisition will be essential to make sure the right level of due diligence is conducted. 

It is also important to engage the services of a tax specialist to cover any tax implications surrounding the acquisition of a multiple-use property.

And of course, engaging the services of a country buying agent with experience in acquiring farms, estates or equestrian properties for example, like us at Domus Holmes Property Finder, will definitely save you time, money and headaches!


Whether your intentions are to have a house with land that allows you to plant an orchard, or you wish to create a smallholding (like celebrity chef Marcus Wearing), have space for your equine interests or are seeking a property with land to guarantee privacy – it can be challenging to find land that is suitable and often even harder to find a property with land that meets all your requirements. 

A property with land can give you the opportunity to extend a house, or perhaps add to its facilities, by creating a home office, garaging or even a self-contained annexe. You might even want land for a self-build plot, creating your own dream home.  Regardless of your grand final plans, the best advice is to seek professional advice from experts in the various fields that are necessary to assist you in making informed decisions!

If you’re considering buying a property with land and believe you could benefit from expert guidance, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss your requirements further and how we can assist you.

Domus Holmes Property Finder

T: +44 (0) 117 973 3683


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