As different parts of the country evolve and develop over time, the value of land fluctuates according to the perceived need for its use. Predicting and influencing the long term development prospects of land is a strategic skill from which landowners can only benefit.

That's the message from DM Hall director in Aberdeen, Kevin Jackson.

He explained: "Strategic land is generally land with long term development potential but which has not yet been granted an allocation within the Local Development Plan.

"Local Development Plans, by their nature, are long-term documents with normally a window every 5 years to put forward proposals for new sites. Given the limited window of opportunity it is important that as strong a case is put forward as possible so professional advice is crucial from the outset.

"There are many landowners, particularly farmers in the north-east of Scotland, who are sitting on sites which may have significant future value but aren’t sure the best route to follow to unlock it.

Mr Hall explained that there are different ways farmers can approach this long game. A popular option is for a developer to take an option agreement over the land for a set period of time. Once it is in place the developer will embark on planning promotion with the aim of obtaining an allocation in the Local Development Plan and ultimately a planning consent which will allow development to take place.

He said: "Once consent is obtained the developer can purchase the land. In this scenario, the developer carries all the upfront costs. It is however important that the landowner obtains the correct advice at the outset to make sure that they achieve the best possible price for the land.

"Landowners can, of course choose to promote the land themselves through the planning system in the hope of gaining consent. The cost of doing so can however be significant and again, professional advice is crucial."

DM Hall is currently advising a number of landowners throughout the country either by marketing the availability of their land to potential developers and then negotiating terms on the landowners behalf or by acting for the landowner in promoting the land through the planning system.

Farmers may view strategic land as peripheral to their immediate interests, which include turning a profit in an increasingly tough business but it can be an enormously valuable long-term play and, with the right advice, a cornerstone of succession planning.

With the help of an honest broker, the dividends could, literally, be game-changing.