The rights to develop land, as distinguished from ownership of it. Similar but broader than conservation easement, because development rights may be purchased with the aim of developing instead of conserving private land.
The legal ability to develop a parcel of land, usually purchased from the owner of a vacant tract of land by the developer. Title to the property does not change hands until the new survey of properties is sold to third-party purchasers.
The owner's legal right to develop the property, subject to law and regulation. An owner of land holds a bundle of various rights, including the right to develop the land. When a person conveys his “development rights” to a land trust, for example, he gives up his right (and the right of his heirs and successors) to develop the land. At the same time, the land trust or other recipient itself does not obtain the right to develop the property. Technically, the land trust obtains only the legal right to prevent future development of the property. (See also conservation restriction and fee simple.)