Are searches necessary when purchasing commercial property for development?

Searches Commercial Property

When acquiring a site for development searches can seem costly, and there is sometimes a presumption that services are already serving the site or can easily be connected. Searches for commercial property will confirm the availability of services, and the location of these, enabling you to plan for a viable development.

There are many searches we can undertake on your behalf depending on your development proposals. Below is an outline of the key searches we advise to be undertaken in every transaction.

  • Local Authority search – This will reveal planning consents and building regulation applications that are approved, pending or refused in relation to the property; whether the nearest highway to the property is adopted; whether the property is in a Conservation Area or if there are any Compulsory Purchase Orders registered against the Property. There will also be other information that is not available on public record, but only up to the date of the search.
  • Drainage and Water search – This will show, in addition to other points, whether the property is connected to mains water supply, whether the foul and surface water drain to a public sewer, and if connected, location of these connections. It can also show if there is a connection nearby which can be key when considering a site for development.
  • Environmental search – This search will show if the property is at a higher risk of flooding (and if so, we can commission additional searches for further information) or if the land is likely to be considered contaminated. This can prove costly if the original polluter cannot be traced as you will be obliged to remediate the land, which can be expensive. There are other entries on this search which can provide an indicator whether more detailed searches are required depending on the development plan.
  • Highways search – The local search will state if the nearest roads are adopted highway however a highways search confirms the extent of the highway and will confirm that you have the correct access or rights for development
  • Utilities and services search – This search confirms the location and specific kind of utilities buried underground, such as gas pipes, electricity cables, water mains or fibre optic cables. This search is costly but is key and will enable you to plan the development accordingly from the outset and factor in any diversions required to avoid any damage to any buried utilities.
  • Chancel – This checks whether the property is in an area subject to historical obligations to pay towards the upkeep of the local parish church. In reality there is unlikely to be a requirement to contribute, however the cost can be significant if it is. If the property is in an area affected, we can source an indemnity policy to provide financial cover should a claim be made.

Much of the information in the searches is not publicly available elsewhere or contains specialist, property specific advice so they are therefore crucial to ensuring that any land or property that is acquired will be suitable for the development planned.

How we can help

To find out how we can assist, contact Jessica Hotchin on 0161 694 4178 for your free initial telephone discussion. If you prefer, you can fill in our online form or alternatively, you can email Jessica at