Often such land will be categorised as a brownfield site and the government states that at least 60% of all new homes should be built on such property.
Peter Randall, managing director of RPD Land and New Homes, said: “Showrooms, petrol stations and workshops can be prime brownfield sites and in the main councils are willing to consider planning applications for change of use to residential development, particularly if it is in the residentially defined envelope.”
Randall also said that in many cases the residential values of a site are greater than the existing commercial value.
“In the Kent area we have sold sites from £1m per acre upwards. Land that can hold higher density housing and that is in more expensive parts of the county can go for more than £1.5m per acre,” he said.
One important issue for sites that held petrol pumps is the dangers of contamination, which has to be thoroughly investigated prior to development.
“There is a chance that there may have been some petrol leakage from underground tanks or oil spillage,” said Randall. “It is standard procedure these days to have brownfield sites cleared up. The earlier it is done the better.
“However, it doesn’t have to be a major cost, it largely depends on how well the garage was run in the first place.”