We want to buy a piece of land with no direct access, how do we get around this?
Property Clinic: You will need to purchase extra land for road and services access
You may need to purchase a ‘ransom strip’ of land to access your plot. Photograph: iStock
We have spotted a piece of land for sale and are keen on buying it. The access to it, however, is on the farmer’s land and at the moment there is a wall across it. Would we be expected to construct a path over his land to reach ours? Would he be expected to provide us with a path? How does it work? We were also hoping to put a static caravan on the land while the house is being built. Do we need permission for one even if we don’t have it hooked up to services?
It is unusual for a landowner to offer a piece of land for sale that does not have access to a public road, which appears to be the case as you have outlined. It would substantially diminish the value of the land or possibly leave it unsaleable. It may be necessary for you to make enquiries in relation to precisely what is on offer.
If the piece of land is for sale without access to and from the public road it will be necessary for you to purchase an additional piece of land that would ensure this access, or alternatively, you will need to acquire a formal right of way (ROW) and a services wayleave (SWL) over the farmer’s land.
The ROW would only give you the right to pass back and forth between the public road and the subject piece of land. It should be of defined width, sufficient to accommodate vehicular traffic and provide for a splayed entrance as may be required by the planning authority.
The SWL should provide for the installation and maintenance of necessary underground and overground services, and also for the construction of a suitable driveway across the ROW. This construction would then be a matter for you.
However, you will require professional advice in relation to valuation, both with and without outline planning permission, and in relation to boundary mapping issues. Your solicitor will need to be briefed on the various issues involved before you decide to proceed with this purchase, as there are aspects to the situation you have outlined that are potentially problematic.
Two of these are as follows:
(a) If purchasing this piece of land, it is advisable, as part of the same transaction, to purchase the additional land to ensure that you have access to the public road. The purchase of the subject piece of land, without legally resolving the issue of access would be a high risk, as subsequent to becoming the owner of a landlocked piece of land, you are likely to find that the cost of purchasing additional land for access becomes exorbitant, because of the potential added value to the landlocked piece of land. Such an additional area of land is often referred to as a “ransom strip” for obvious reasons.
(b) The acquisition of a ROW and SWL only, rather than the purchase of an additional area for access as described in (a) above, would be problematic, as the farmer would remain owner. He will likely want to continue using it for agricultural purposes. This is likely to involve heavy machinery and/or livestock crossing it.
You need planning permission to place a static caravan on the land. You may store it on site for up to six months without planning permission if it is not occupied or connected to services. However, you should discuss your proposals with the local authority planning officer prior to applying for planning permission and he/she will advise on the inclusion of the use of the caravan in the planning application for your house.
Patrick Shine is a chartered geomatics surveyor, a chartered civil engineer and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie