Discovering infill opportunities and unlocking urban development

As urban landscapes continue to evolve and expand, finding land for new housing developments becomes increasingly challenging. However, savvy developers can still succeed by identifying valuable opportunities in the form of infill plots.

December 11, 2023

Imagine strolling through a bustling city street, lined with a blend of houses, shops, flats, and various local amenities. At first glance, it appears that every inch of space is occupied. However, a closer look reveals a different story. Nestled between these buildings lie small parcels of unused land - perhaps a storage yard squeezed between two storefronts or an overgrown, forgotten garden adjacent to a residence. These spaces, often overlooked, are ripe with potential for developers. 

What is an infill?

In urban planning, turning unused or vacant tracks of land in developed areas into something useful is called infill or backland development. These plots can be a bit awkward - they might be an odd shape or unusually small. But with some clever design, developers can turn them into great places to live. It’s not just about squeezing in more homes; this kind of development helps local councils and developers boost the number of houses in areas that seem to have no room left for building.

What are the advantages of infill plots?

What makes infill plots a viable approach to pursue? Well, unlike undeveloped greenfield sites or brownfield land that might need a lot of work to make them liveable, infill plots are usually already set up with essentials like water, electricity, roads, internet, and other key infrastructure. This means they're not as costly for developers to get started on. Plus, these areas already have public transport and the necessities close by.

For developers, there's less risk involved too. Infill plots are often in established residential areas or busy urban spots, so it's easier to get a handle on what homes or rentals might do well there. The demand is more predictable. And if developers do their homework, they can tailor their projects to fit exactly what local people are looking for.

Infill developments are usually thought of as sites in or right next to busy areas, but they can also include villages and towns. What's great about them is that they're less disruptive compared to more isolated and less sustainable sites. This is why some local councils are okay with infill projects even in the Green Belt, since they don't lead to urban sprawl.

The challenges of infill plots

Infill development isn't without its challenges, though. Convincing residents and communities can be tough, especially if they're worried about gentrification. Plus, they'll have to deal with the noise and disruption from construction, which can be a real headache, especially for those living right next to these infill sites.

Another issue is access. These plots can often be tucked away in tight spots or hard to reach by road, so getting building materials to the site needs some clever planning.

And then there's planning permission. Often, it's all about the design. Developers need to consider how their project will impact the neighbours, like blocking light in their windows or overshadowing their gardens. You'll also find that local authorities may have a differing stances on granting planning permission to infill developments. So it's worth taking a look at the most up-to-date Local Plan and the latest SHLAA data.

Finding an infill plot

Infill plot search in action in Searchland

Looking for an infill plot isn't a walk in the park. It used to mean hours spent poring over maps, physically scouting out areas, and even knocking on doors to gather info about landowners.

But now, things are much simpler. We've set up a filter that does the hard work for you, pinpointing potential infill plots in your chosen search area. You can quickly check local planning policies to get a sense of what the council thinks and even look at past planning applications to see what's been given the thumbs up or down. 

And because securing an infill plot can be quite the challenge, we've also got a tool that lets you send out letters to multiple owners at once, boosting your chances of finding someone open to a chat about their land.

To get started,  jump on a demo with our team so they can show you our full set of features.

October 17, 2023

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