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What does a local search reveal?

When purchasing a property, especially when you are purchasing with the assistance of a mortgage, it is advisable to obtain a search pack.  This includes a local search, water and drainage information, environmental and flood searches.

The local search reveals a variety of useful information regarding a property.  In the majority of cases, your lawyer will strongly advise that this is undertaken.

It is important to note that the local search literally just searches within the boundaries of the property.  It does not reveal any issues falling outside of this area.  Therefore, if you are concerned or interested to learn of planning applications or entries relating to the areas lying outside of the boundary, then you will need to have a plan search undertaken.  This is an additional cost, but is extremely worthwhile if you are concerned about the development of a field or unused area near to your property, for instance.

A Local Search provides information in relation to the roadways serving the property, whether there are any planning permission and applications (where they have been granted, issued or refused) and a vast amount of other information. This search can be particularly difficult to understand, as a large amount of information is included within one document – most of which can appear confusing and lengthy.

Your lawyer will review the local search, highlight any issues you need to be aware of and will raise any queries with the seller’s lawyer about any entry revealed in the search which is unclear and/or requires them to provide documentation to evidence what the Local Search entries relate to.

Examples of the types of entries which can be revealed in the local search

  • Planning Permissions and Building Regulations

Within this section, any works undertaken at the property will be identified. This can be as small as the installation of a new window/door, to a double storey extension at the property. It will show exactly when the works were done and will give your lawyer an understanding of what alterations have been made. Your lawyer can then ask the seller’s lawyer for any documents in respect of this. Also, if you are aware of works having been undertaken which would have required consent, and this is not revealed, then this is also raised with the seller’s lawyer.

  •  Roads and Public Rights of Way

This section will show whether the road serving the property has been adopted (i.e. will show whether the road is maintained by your Local Authority). Should this not be case then your lawyer can raise questions in relation to this. It will also show the location of any public rights of way.

  • Conservation Areas/Listed Buildings/Tree Preservation Orders

The local search will reveal whether the property is located in Conservation area. Should this be the case then it could permit any further development at the property. This could be an issue if you are planning any future works at the property.

If the property is a listed building this will be indicated on the search.  Information concerning any tree preservation orders (TPO’s) will also be revealed.  The TPO makes it an offence to cut down, uproot, prune, damage or destroy trees without the consent of the local authority.

  • Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

This is a relatively new section which is contained within the local search.  This is a levy which can be imposed on new estates and impose a requirement on developers to contribute towards the implementation of roads, schools and public amenities.

The above information provides a small insight into the type of information revealed by a local search.  If you require any further information concerning this search, please contact a member of our Residential Property team.

Nicole Chrisham - solicitor - Residential Property