Buying a piece of land for development purposes, whether it be for a single residential dwelling or a large scale residential, commercial or industrial use, is a big investment. It is important to complete a Due Diligence investigation of the property, before the property changes hands. As the supply of suitable development land continues to decrease and pressure to develop continues to mount, unsuitable lands may find their way into the real estate market. It can be difficult to identify suitable land for development. You need to know what to look for.
Once you have identified a property that you feel meets your needs, it is important that you take the time to ensure that the property is all that it appears. Include a period of Due Diligence in your Conditions of Purchase, to ensure that you can get the professional advice you require to make that final decision.
The professionals at EcoVue can undertake Due Diligence exercises for you, to ensure that the property you are considering will suit your purposes.
A few things to consider when shopping for development lands:
- At one time, properties located at the edge of a settlement area were viewed as long term investments by developers and others. The sprawl of urban land uses into rural areas resulted in the loss of many thousands of hectares of prime agricultural land to subdivision development, road networks and expansive retail commercial malls and outlets. Not anymore… changes to Provincial policy now virtually preclude the development of lands outside settlement areas. Within the Greater Golden Horseshoe, much of the rural land beyond settlement areas is now included within the Province’s Agricultural System. These lands are now protected from development.
- The importance of wetlands to the ecological form and function and to control of flooding is now better understood and the filling of lowland areas is no longer permitted throughout southern Ontario. The Province’s newly developed Natural Heritage System protects woodlands, wetlands and other important habitats from development.
- Even if lands are located within a settlement area, there may be other factors that limit your ability to use the land. Lands within floodplains and lands without safe access in time of flooding are off limits, to ensure that loss of life and limb, as well as loss of investment through flood damages are avoided. Steep and unstable slopes are similarly protected from development.
- In some case, access to lands is problematic. There may be a 0.3 metre municipal reserve that blocks access to lands from the street, or there may be issues with visibility which adversely affect entrance locations.
- Proximity to industrial uses which generate noise, dust, vibration, and heavy traffic often precludes establishment of sensitive land uses, such as dwellings, schools, retirement and homes. Lands which were previously used for industrial purposes and have been abandoned by the owners may still be contaminated, with leachate plumes spreading silently under the surface to contaminate nearby properties.
- The Municipality’s long-term vision for development, as outlined in its Official Plan may preclude certain land uses from being established, or it may mean that new uses such as a major collector road or subdivision are already approved for the green space nearby. Don’t assume that the space will stay green in perpetuity.