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How a detailed site setup leads to a smooth residential development

By Ellie Johnson

Published In: Residential Development

For new build property developers, setting up new developments is both a crucial and exciting venture. Careful planning and execution is required to ensure the development runs as smoothly as possible from the development site setup through to the individual plot sales and beyond.

Photo of new build housing development

In this blog, we discuss the key steps involved in the legal set up of a new residential development and how these steps can be completed effectively to ensure overall efficiency of the development.

 Step 1 – producing plans

Action required: Once a developer owns the land to be developed, it is important to produce a clear Master Deed plan which accurately reflects the intended development. A Master Deed plan should include the following:

  • The full extent of the development and the boundaries of the individual plots within the development
  • Any shared driveways which are to be included in the development
  • Any easements which may pass through the development land
  • Any common areas or public open space within the development

Benefits: An accurate Master Deed plan provides a comprehensive overview of the development and enables buyers to see the extent and layout of the plot they are purchasing. It also ensures infrastructure such as roads are properly planned at the outset of the development. An approved layout enables consistent individual plot plans to  be easily and quickly created which can save time when an individual plot is sold. The Master Deed plan is also submitted to Land Registry for estate layout approval and, providing the plot plans accurately reflect the Master Deed plan, there should be no problems on registration of the plot for completion of the sale.

Step 2 -  Consider infrastructure agreements

Action required: Infrastructure agreements covering essential services such as roads and sewers should be considered at the outset of a development and discussions with utility providers and local authorities should take place as early as possible.

Benefits: Planning conditions are often imposed on a new build developer to establish adequate infrastructure and such conditions need to be complied with. Clear infrastructure agreements also outline the responsibilities of the developer and specify the works that must be completed for the new infrastructure to be adopted. These agreements  establish clear intentions for future maintenance and adoption of roads and sewers etc. This provides certainty for all parties, not least buyers and any lenders, who need to know that the infrastructure on a development is being constructed in accordance with Local Authority and Water Authority requirements.

Step 3 – Think about management arrangements

Action required: If there is any public open space on the new development, consideration should be given to how it is to be managed once the development has completed. For example, is the public open space to be transferred to a management company on completion of the development and if so, will that company be a professional management company. A common alternative is to have a resident run company with a managing agent appointed to carry out the maintenance and collect any service charge costs.

If the public open space is to be transferred to a professional management company, early communication should take place at the outset of the development so that a robust management agreement can be agreed and in place with the chosen management company in advance of the sale and legal completion of any plots on the development taking place.

Benefits: By giving thought to how the public open space on a development is to be managed during the site set up process, potential delays are avoided in the future as the development progresses. Both developer and buyer will have certainty from the outset that the public open space will be effectively managed once the development is complete and the transfer of the public open space to the management company should proceed smoothly if arrangements have already been made in this respect at the outset of the development.

Step 4 - Check legal title to the development land

Action required: The legal title to the development land should be carefully checked to ensure that any third party interests are established. Third party interests over the land should be  dealt with during the site set up to ensure that they do not impact on the sale of plots. Such third party interests could include:

  • Rights of way
  • Easements
  • Covenants
  • Restrictions on the title

Interests such as these might impose limits on how the land can be used and developed, for example an existing right of way in favour of a third party might limit where building can take place. There could also be a restriction on the title which restricts certain actions being taken without the prior consent of the person who has the benefit of the restriction.

Benefit: Where legal title to a development is thoroughly checked by a specialist property development lawyer, the risk of delays due to unidentified issues arising as the development progresses is vastly reduced. By checking the title at the site setup stage, anything which might hinder the development progressing can be established early on and steps can be taken to resolve any potential issues to ensure that the development can progress efficiently.

 There are many things which can be done and considered during the site setup phase of a development to ensure that the development as a whole runs effectively and efficiently. A specialist residential development lawyer can assist with all elements of the development set up to ensure that all of the above steps are considered, resulting in a smooth development from set up to final plot completion and transfers of public open space.

At Switalskis our Residential Development team are able to assist with all elements of site set up. Contact us on 01302 320621 or email


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Ellie has worked in the legal sector for over five years. She is a Chartered Legal Executive in our Property Development department.

Chartered Legal Executive

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