Which PlotFinder Website Suits You?
The Definitive Guide
Choose a plotfinder website
that’s right for your build
“How will I
Paddle the stream of plotfinder sites
with this guide as your raft
Table of Contents
2 Where to Start
3 Which Plotfinder site fits your needs the best?
4 What would you need in a plotfinder site?
5 Ten Points to Look for in a good plotfinder site
6 List of Plotfinder Sites with our Assessments
7 Summary of Assessments
11 Further Reading
This article attempts to navigate the torrent of plotfinder types for you, braving the white water to get you safely down the river of choice. Finding the right site to find land for sale can be like passing along a jungle river: it is easier with a guide.
Use this guide to the most appropriate plotfinder site in your search for the perfect plot for your rural or urban development proposal.
2 Where to Start?
Go online; Google is your friend. But finding a good plot browser site can be daunting because there are many sites online of seemingly equal significance or insignificance. In other words there is no ‘brand leader’ or industry standard site as a benchmark. If there was, we would have the comfort of a household name and a benchmark to compare other sites with.
3 Finding the plotfinder website that fits your needs the best?
Each self-build is different. We look at what each site is good at to help you find which plotfinder is the right fit for you and your build proposal.
You may think that to find a plot for sale London is not the place. You might then suppose that you would have to go to Greater London, the London commuter belt or the home counties to buy a plot of land.
4 What would you need in a plotfinder site?
The good news is that legislation passed in April 2017 has quickened the process of unlocking Brownfield land for development. Even Greenfield land is a possibility for urban planning, although it holds slightly more contention than Brownfield. Therefore, London may not be out of reach of your plot search. If you are want a rural plot, you may have to apply directly for planning permission, if it is within a National Park for example.
Whether you want small plots of land for sale or a large development, a cracking site will help you. we came up with 10 advantages for you to consider:
5 Ten points to Look for in a good plotfinder site:
1st Point: The listings should be up-to-date. Sites that are no longer available should be deleted immediately to keep the content current and valid. Otherwise you can waste a lot of time chasing dead-ends or barking up the wrong tree.
2nd Point: The plotfinder site should list plots – and not various kinds of properties or proposals such as restorations, refurbishments or flat conversion projects – which may cloud and confuse the issue.
3rd Point: If you are looking for plots of land with planning permission for sale, a plotfinder site should state whether the plot is land for sale with planning permission, or not.. Ideally, a good site would indicate the likelihood of planning permission for the land for sale, given local precedents. Unless you are looking for a plot for sale with planning permission, it would be great if the site also showed the planning history for each plot.
4th Point: Another benefit of the plotfinder would be to indicate if it is green belt land for sale. As you are looking to buy land, a comprehensive site would also mention whether the plots fall within in a Conservation Area, or Metropolitan Open Land.
5th Point: All the sites should describe the plot for sale as being levelled already, or with property to be levelled.
6th Point: You might be looking for a property with land for sale, to develop the additional land and retain the property (or not). Sizes should be shown on every plotfinder site, and possible scopes could be indicated in good sites.
7th Point: If you are looking for a plot in Green Belt, Greenfield or woodland for sale UK, it may require a wild-life consultant. A good site might mention if this has been previously commissioned.
8th Point: Good plotfinders may indicate whether a topographical site has ever been carried out or not.. Site Utopia would also be if the site was to include any details on soil testing. This is usually done by contractors, so may not have been done with a virgin plot.
User Experience – the site should be responsive and fast, with good interactive functionality. Aesthetically it should be clear but not too garish.
10th Point: Quantity / Comment on individual merits.
Ok, now we have our list of 10 points in-hand,
let’s see if our wishes can be realized:
6 Plotfinder Sites, with our assessments
Here are 8 sites we assessed for usefulness in terms of the 10 points above. Note: the test may not be 100% pure / true, as the sites do vary in function and focus. Therefore our assessments are intended as a guide only.
Our 10 Point List for BuildStore / PlotSearch
1st Point: Up to Date? Updated every 7 days. Plots are removed once sold, making this list very accurate. – 10
2nd Point: Lists Plots only? Description stated under ‘Viewing Details / Type’. Plot Report given with reference no. – 10
3rd Point: States Planning Permission? Stated under ‘Viewing Details / Planning’ – 10
4th Point: States Greenbelt or Conservation Area? It states this under ‘Restrictions’ – 10
5th Point: States whether Levelled? Description stated under ‘Viewing Details / Type’ – 10
6th Point: Shows sizes? Yes. They only have a registered version (free.) – 10
7th Point: States whether wildlife survey needed / conducted? No. – 5
8th Point: States whether topographical survey or soil test needed / conducted? – No. – 5
9th Point: User Experience – additional information is simple to view. Colours are pleasing and clear (grass green / 2 shades of grey / white). Site is fast, and functional. – 10
10th Point: Quantity / Comment – BuildStore has a PlotSearch function with free registration. Once you confirm it, you can also activate free PlotAlerts. It asks how you will fund your plot and offers a finance review. It has a demo and help features. Also gives existing services e.g. mains gas, water, electric, drainage under ‘Services.’ Full contact details of seller given. Price is given. No fees to buyer or seller charged. Apparently the largest UK list @ 8000+ genuine bundles. This site is dedicated to plot listings and therefore is most relevant and useful; e.g. ‘Restriction’s also helpfully states vehicle access construction needed etc. – 10
► our overall score for BuildStore / PlotSearch: 9
Our 10 Point List for Plotfinder.net
1st Point: Up to Date? Undetermined in the registered version – 5
2nd Point: Lists Plots only? Planning permission is mentioned, where relevant. – 8
3rd Point: States Planning Permission? Conservation is mentioned as a search function. – 5
4th Point: States Greenbelt or Conservation Area? The plot has a basic description – 7
5th Point: States whether Levelled? Shows photo. – 5
6th Point: Sizing info. Access in the subscribed version – 5
7th Point: States whether wildlife survey needed / conducted? Undetermined in the registered version – 4
8th Point: States whether topographical survey or soil test needed / conducted? Undetermined in the registered version – 4
9th Point: User Experience – You can search area, type, features, distance, price range and set alerts. (One of the features is conservation area, but it would be better if that was flagged up on the search results as a contention rather than something to be desired / searched.) The site is simple, fast, responsive and functional. Aesthetically, the colours are a bit bright, and the font – which is slab serif – is too punchy. But there is enough white space to be easy on the eye. – 7
10th Point: Quantity / Comment – It should really be named Property Finder, since many of their products are full properties. Some of these are terraced houses, which are clearly not good candidates for levelling and development. The inclusion of generic property pushes up the number of bundles available (to almost 15,000), but masks the actual number of plots in the area you are targeting. However, some lots named land for sale are clearly plots (not properties), as the prices are low. But look again: some are access tracks, which may seem as useful as a bicycle to a fish. There are however some empty plots with full planning and plots with barns that have planning permission for large conversions There are options to register or subscribe, and by paying (£5) monthly, you get more extensive information. The free version seems to be enough for busy people to start with, however it does lack basic sizes so you have to pay the £5 or estimate by the photo. You can advertise your plot free in the free version. The full version has contact info., sizes and plans, but it comes with ads. Whilst the ads may be relevant, you would think it would be the free version that had ads. – 5
► our overall score for PlotFinder.net: 5
Our 10 Point List for PlotBrowser
1st Point: Up to Date? Shows date added, but some are sold yet not removed. – 7
2nd Point: Lists Plots only? Lists descriptions. – 7
3rd Point: States Planning Permission? Descriptions referenced as subject to planning permission. – 7
4th Point: States Greenbelt or Conservation Area? Not stated. – 3
5th Point: States whether Levelled? Lists descriptions. – 7
6th Point: Shows sizes? Size not mentioned on urban plots. – 2
7th Point: States whether wildlife survey needed / conducted? Not mentioned. – 4
8th Point: States whether topographical survey or soil test needed / conducted? No. – 4
9th Point: User Experience – fast and gives lots of results per postcode. Each result has a ‘More’ button to show price guide, date and description. If you want to see a photo, you have to log-in. Registering is free, but some plots do not have a photo. Others are sold but not removed. – 8
10th Point: Quantity / Comment – It says thousands. Contact for seller given. The site also gives news and tips. Contains ads. Interactive map with planning info. on the pointers. – 7
► our overall score for Plotbrowser: 6
Our 10 Point List for UK Land Directory
1st Point: Up to Date? Some remote plots have had no action for 7+ months, but that may be due to a comparatively high plot price. However the home counties’ plots have no action for 32 months, inferring the listings are not up to date. – 3
2nd Point: Lists Plots only? Descriptions include services and land designation such as brownfield. – 5
3rd Point: States Planning Permission? Yes. – 8
4th Point: States Greenbelt or Conservation Area? Not mentioned. – 3
5th Point: States whether Levelled? Plot description can deduce whether property exists, e.g. ‘existing residential use’ – 6
6th Point: Shows sizes? Yes, in acres. – 6
7th Point: States whether wildlife survey needed / conducted? No. – 4
8th Point: States whether topographical survey or soil test needed / conducted? No. – 4
9th Point: User Experience – slightly archaic look but fast. Good contrast with red / black / white / greys. Lots of different land use and planning status options listed in search filters. Can search by price or planning status in separate search – 8
10th Point: Quantity / Comment. It is free to register for alerts but registration is also aimed at sellers. – 6
► our overall score for UK Land Directory: 5
Our 10 Point List for The LandBank Partnership
1st Point: Up to Date? Not listed on pre-registered page. – 5
2nd Point: Lists Plots only? Yes, listed on pre-registered page. – 4
3rd Point: States Planning Permission? Not listed on pre-registered page. – 5
4th Point: States Greenbelt or Conservation Area? Not listed on pre-registered page. – 4
5th Point: States whether Levelled? Listed on pre-registered page. – 6
6th Point: Shows sizes? Not listed on pre-registered page. – 5
7th Point: States whether wildlife survey needed / conducted? Not listed on pre-registered page. – 3
8th Point: States whether topographical survey or soil test needed / conducted? – Not listed on pre-registered page. – 3
9th Point: User Experience – It is free to register, but there is a delay where they say they will come back to you before you can get on and search. On the pre-registered page there is basic info. like pricing, area and description. – 3
10th Point: Quantity / Comment – The site serves buyers and sellers alike. There is a phone number and email contact for enquiries on the home page. – 5
► our overall score for The LandBank Partnership: 4
Our 10 Point List for The SelfBuild Portal
1st Point: Up to Date? NA, see 9th Point.
2nd Point: Lists Plots only? Plot finding is one aspect of the site, since the title covers other aspects of self build. Also see 9th Point
3rd Point: States Planning Permission? Yes, this is one of the search filters. See 9th Point
4th Point: States Greenbelt or Conservation Area? See 9th Point
5th Point: States whether Levelled? See 9th Point
6th Point: Shows sizes? Shows scope but not size. See 9th Point
7th Point: States whether wildlife survey needed / conducted? See 9th Point
8th Point: States whether topographical survey or soil test needed / conducted? See 9th Point
9th Point: User Experience – the look of the pre-registered site is quite jumbled and could do with a little more white space around the elements. Once registered, the site is slightly clearer and has interactive menus. Unless you filter the search, the map shows too many results (so these could be listed instead of visual. There is quite a cool feature where you can draw a triangle on the map and it gives results for your selection. But if you type in a town, the map gives results for the whole UK, (but this may depend on the PC or browser).The major difference is that it invites you to place a plot wanted sign in your chosen area, to be matched and contacted by sellers. This is indirect and requires a passive waiting process. – 3
10th Point: Quantity / Comment – The Welcome contains government news presented by Grand Design’s Kevin McCloud. – 4
► our overall score for Self Build Portal: 3.5
Our 10 Point List for CustomBuild Homes
1st Point: Up to Date? Waiting to hear back. Not given in pre-registered page. – 5
2nd Point: Lists Plots only? Yes – 8
3rd Point: States Planning Permission? Not given in pre-registered page. – 5
4th Point: States Greenbelt or Conservation Area? Not given in pre-registered page. – 5
5th Point: States whether Levelled? Yes. – 8
6th Point: Shows sizes? Sizing given in pre-registered page. – 9
7th Point: States whether wildlife survey needed / conducted? Not given in pre-registered page. – 4
8th Point: States whether topographical survey or soil test needed / conducted? Not given in pre-registered page. – 5
9th Point: User Experience – The look and feel of the site is clean and easy. – 8
10th Point: Quantity / Comment – You have to jump through quite a few hoops in terms of form-filling for the registration steps. Otherwise the unregistered list is not fully apparent unless you scroll down but the info. is ample for a pre-registered page, e.g. there are nice plot maps, descriptions and pricing. There is no charge for registration. – 9
► our overall score for CustomBuild Homes: 8
Our 10 Point List for PlotFinder 1.7
1st Point: Up to Date? See 10th Point..
2nd Point: Lists Plots only? See 10th Point.
3rd Point: States Planning Permission? See 10th Point.
4th Point: States Greenbelt or Conservation Area? See 10th Point.
5th Point: States whether Levelled? See 10th Point.
6th Point: Shows sizes? See 10th Point.
7th Point: States whether wildlife survey needed / conducted? See 10th Point.
8th Point: States whether topographical survey or soil test needed / conducted? See 10th Point.
9th Point: User Experience – see below.
10th Point: Quantity / Comment – This is unsatisfactory because there is no result if you key in a postcode or area. If you then key in an known address it gives directions from your current location. Basically it works like Google Maps which is clearly no good as a plot finder.
► our overall score for Plot Finder 1.7: 0
7 Summary of our Results
|Website||List No.||Our Rank||Our Score|
|BuildStore / PlotSearch||1||1||9|
|The Land Bank Partnership||5||6||4|
|The Self Build Portal||6||7||3.5|
|Custom Build Homes||7||2||8|
|Plot Finder 1.7 (app)||8||8||0|
If you want great value, PlotSearch gives lots of easy information free. All you need to do is register. If you want lots of detail on the pre-registered page, go to Custom Build Homes.
We hope you found this guide useful. If you would like to ask us anything regarding planning probability, do call us on 0203 409 4215. Also, you can indicate if you would like to meet investors for larger plots. We enjoy networking with developers, so our door is always open for coffee. If it is easier, you can leave your details via this button.
1. Q What is a plotfinder?
A This is pretty self-explanatory really. There are online sites which facilitate your plot search. The registered versions have more information, but the free ones are ok.
2. Q How do plotfinder websites find their plots?
A They have various methods. Builders and developers tend to network regarding available plots, and these are treated as exclusive and priority for those in the business. This makes listings valuable and important, so long as they are up to date. They may invite listings like a directory, or they may go through estate agents.
3. Q Who uses plotfinder websites?
A Anyone who is looking for a plot and wants to save time by going digital.
4. Q Are plotfinder website free or do they charge?
A Both versions are sometimes available. Most tend to be free, although you have to register.
5. Q Are there any plotfinder apps for iPhone or Android?
A There is one called Plot Finder 1.7 and a couple of non-UK apps.
6. Q Do I need to use a plotfinder website?
A No. If you prefer offline searches or online, non-plot finder sites, try estate agents in your area of choice, and see Further Reading below for more options.
Brownfield – land previously used for industry with possible contamination
Commuter Belt – the towns within daily commuting distance from any given location
Conservation Areas – these have been designated to to architectural or historical importance
Green Belt – is a belt way around a city on which open land is protected from over-development
Greenfield – agricultural land for possible urban development
Home Counties – the counties surrounding London
Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) – protected landscape in and around the capital
Rural – this is the polar opposite of ‘urban’, relating to the countryside – and in this case country planning – rather than town planning.
Soil test – this is where the soil is inspected and analysed by contractors for composition and suitability for construction. For example, the composition of the soil in Camberwell has too much clay, making it too soft for an underground station at the time of construction. If a plot of land has too much clay, however, there are ways to strengthen it at additional cost. Soil is also tested for gravity & compaction, moisture & dry density, biological activity, acidity, and drainage.
Topographical Survey – to assess the lie of the land for natural and man-made features such as site levels & elevations, boundary lines; structures, service covers.
Urban planning – the technical and political aspects of developing built-up areas in terms of communications, services, infrastructure, water and air quality
Wildlife Consultant – performs a scientific survey to assess the biological impact of any development on animal habitats.
11 Further Reading
This gives the latest dates of map updates and news.
If your target plot is empty or you wish to level it for a new build, get some ideas here. If the plot has a property you wish to extend as opposed to levelling, have a look at our current
SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER
We will send you the latest planning and architecture news