Case study: Furze Lane, Felbridge

Our land managers know that sometimes they have to think laterally to achieve the best result for landowners. This is perfectly illustrated in this case study, at a residential garden in Felbridge, on the Surrey/West Sussex border, where the owners were already deep in negotiations with another agent…

The site of interest

This 1.7 ac/0.68 ha parcel of land comprised a long driveway with a house just off a residential street. The house was split into two semi-detached properties with a generous plot of additional land attached.

We made a speculative approach to the landowner and established that they already had an agent working for them to sell the land. We felt we could achieve a better result for the landowner and contacted property developer Reside Developments, advising them to make contact directly with the landowner. We chose Reside because we knew they were in the best position to take this project forward.

Working the planning system

Reside Developments quickly established a relationship with the landowner and learned that their main motivation was not the sale price but to secure an agreement that any development would be sensitive to the local area and offer an asset to the community.

We worked closely with the landowner and Reside Developments to formulate a plan that included seven detached homes designed to blend in sympathetically with the existing local architecture.

Satisfied with this tailored development plan, the landowner agreed to sell to Reside Developments.

Achieving planning permission proved to be very straightforward as Mid Sussex District Council had just introduced a new policy in their local plan stating that where a potential building site abuts the settlement boundary and is less than 10 units in size then the development would essentially be compliant.

While the site was large enough to accommodate many more houses, a decision was taken to restrict the size of the development to seven in order to take advantage of that policy and achieve planning permission quickly, as this was in the interests of all stakeholders.

This was the first application to be approved by Mid Sussex District Council under the new policy.

Tackling problems head on

Furze Lane itself was unregistered land and ownership was unclear. Residents paid into a management fund to keep the road maintained. Therefore, when it came to installing electricity, water and gas lines, this presented a challenge. There was no access right to use the lane to get to the land and there was no access agreement in place from the residents that maintained the lane.

Reside Developments negotiated an agreement with the management committee of Furze Lane in the form of a contribution to the management fund as well as occupants of the new houses being required to contribute to the ongoing upkeep of the road going forward.

Getting the best deal possible from Searls

The land is now home to seven bespoke two, three and four-bedroom detached houses.

A major aspect of our success at Furze Lane came down to our constant open lines of communication between ourselves, the landowner and the developer.

The landowner was thrilled with the outcome of the deal and he remains grateful to Searls for the opportunity he received when he first received a letter from us. After the previous agent stalled, he felt he enjoyed an excellent result from our partnership.


Transaction - Acquired under the terms of an option agreement

Client - Reside Developments

Planning status - None

Land parcel - 1.7 ac / 0.68 ha

Details – This site was a residential garden acquired for Reside Developments without planning permission which was later sold unconditionally on their behalf with detailed planning permission for seven houses.