Prices for farm products have been under a lot of pressure in recent years and farmers with potential development land can boost their capital and income by selling off relatively small parts of the farm for housing or commercial property.

How it Works 

Usually, the developer/builder will want to obtain planning permission for the development before he parts with his money for the land. This can take the form of an option agreement or a conditional contract. The conditional contract route gives the developer more certainty; he knows the price he has to pay for the land if he gets planning permission to develop. An option agreement may include a mechanism to agree a price if planning permission is obtained, but it still has to be agreed.

A Complex and Potentially Contentious Issue

The planning process can take a long time, usually up to two years and even longer if the application is contentious. The agreement usually provides that the developer can appeal to the Secretary of State, who has been more amenable to granting consent than local councils of late. The housing shortage is forcing consents, often in the face of vociferous opposition. The Council may impose conditions that are unacceptable to the developer and he will want to reserve the right to pull out of the option or contract.

A farmer selling land for development should weigh all this up before he grants an option or agrees to sell under a conditional contract.  Valuing the land for development and negotiating when the farmer gets paid for it are critical issues which require complex negotiation.

We Can Help

At McMillan Williams, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including landowners who want to maximise their capital and income by selling off some of their land.  We can help you achieve the price you are looking for and guide you through this often complex process. 

If you are considering selling part of your land to a developer under an option agreement and wish to speak to our team of specialist agricultural Lawyers, call us on 020 3551 8500 or email us at


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