Investing in the Land Sector

If you want to start from the ground up, you can buy raw, undeveloped land for potential future development.

This category of the commercial sector includes investment opportunities on raw and undeveloped land.

This could be either rural land or infill land within an urban area. The latter is use of obsolete, vacant or under-utilised land in a built-up area that can be used for further construction.

Land will generally fall under two sub-categories:

Brownfield land: Is currently or was occupied by a permanent structure that has become vacant, and

Greenfield land: parks, forest and countryside.

Potential investors can also take advantage of pad sites, which are freestanding pieces of commercial land, usually in front of a large shopping centre.

With great customer accessibility and offering 'drive-thru' services, these sites are usually attractive to fast food outlets and banks.

In a land as green as Britain, you can source undeveloped land in virtually any region but, naturally, there will be a larger amount of vacant land in more rural areas.

In Scotland, for example, the Scottish Vacant and Derelict Land Survey 2016 highlighted that there were 12,435 hectares of urban vacant and derelict land in Scotland.

What should I be looking for?

If you are going to be building commercial property on vacant land to occupy yourself, lease or sell in the future, consider these factors:

Is there potential in the region for future tenants to occupy the building once it is completed?  

Similarly, if your own business is occupying the site, is the location suitable for your business plan? Is there a healthy supply of potential customers and clients nearby?

Consider transport links, accessibility, security and surrounding competition.

Have a reputable surveyor assess the site. This will highlight all potential stumbling blocks any development may encounter, including boundaries, services, overhead power lines, public or other rights of ways, and flood risks.

Are there any planning permissions on the land? You will not be able to build if you have no outline planning permission (OPP), which allows a new site to be constructed within five years, but the type, size and designs will still need to be approved by your local council. A detailed planning permission (DPP) means you don't need any approval, but building must occur within the first two years.

What building regulations will you need to adhere to? These can include anything from structural safety, fire hazards, ventilation, drainage and electrical safety.

Should I invest?

Individuals will buy land for numerous reasons, with land seen the as a safe long-term bet, in comparison to the fluctuating property market.

Note that land investment requires more than just the usual financial backing. You will need creative flair to make good use of the bought land, and you will need good knowledge of all the legal processes required in buying, building and selling raw land. 

And remember: when in doubt, always seek professional advice from a solicitor, land planner, surveyor or accountant. 

Jo Thornley

About the author

Jo joined Dynamis in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between, and and likeminded companies.


Subscribe to our email updates. is committed to protecting your privacy. We will use the information you provide on this form to send you marketing emails . Find out more about what we do with your information in our Privacy Policy.
Marketing Emails: You will receive newsletters, advice and offers about buying and selling commercial property. We will also send you information about commercial property events.