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    Old Falmouth Road, Truro
    Old Falmouth Road, Truro
    Old Falmouth Road, Truro
    Old Falmouth Road, Truro
    Sancreed, Penzance
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    Tregustick, Nr. Porth
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    Roskrow, Penryn
    Tresillian, Nr. Truro
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Buying land: What you need to know
May 2020

Finding a plot of land on which to build a custom home is a dream for many people, and can be both financially and emotionally rewarding. However, there are a few pitfalls to watch out for when choosing your plot. Here are some of the key factors to consider.


What type of land is it?

There are two main types of land on the market – greenfield land, which has never previously been developed (open fields, for example), and brownfield land that has been built on before. Brownfield sites are generally easier to get planning permission for, although if there are buildings already on the site you may need to apply for a change of use and take any design restrictions into consideration (for example, the previous building’s footprint may need to be maintained). Other factors to think about include:

  • Access – does it have easy access to a public highway?
  • Services – is it already connected to mains water and sewage?
  • Plot size – does the size and shape of the plot suit your proposed build?
  • Restrictions – is the land in a conservation area? Do any of the trees have preservation orders? Are there overhead cables or public rights of way that could limit your plans? Getting a professional survey before committing to a purchase may save a lot of potential heartache.

Does it have planning permission?

Be wary of cheap plots of land in prime locations that don’t already have planning permission – there’s a high likelihood that permission has been declined on previous occasions. Plots can have two types of planning consent – outline planning permission (OPP), which allows development to take place in principle and detailed planning permission (DPP), which provides a specific building design. Don’t automatically dismiss a plot with DPP if you don’t like the design – it is possible to submit a new application with an alternative design without losing planning permission for the site. Generally you will need to begin development within three years of the date that permission was granted.

What are the pros and cons of buying land?


  • Building a home is usually cheaper than buying from a developer.
  • You can work with an architect to design a custom-built home exactly how you want it.
  • You can reclaim VAT on labour and material costs.
  • You’ll only pay stamp duty on the land cost rather than the value of your finished property.


  • Finding a suitable plot of land that comes with planning permission can be tricky.
  • Unless you are a qualified builder, you’ll need to find and manage various contractors, which can be stressful and time-consuming.
  • You will have to pay rent or mortgage on a second property while your new home is being constructed.

Interested in building your own home in Cornwall? Lillicrap Chilcott has a team of expert agents with an extensive knowledge of Cornwall’s property market. Stop by our Truro office or visit our website for more information.