Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Agricultural, forestry and other occupational dwellings in the countryside

9.57 In many instances it will be possible for workers in agricultural and land-based occupations to live in a town or village near to their business location. However, occasionally the nature of agricultural and other rural businesses make it essential for someone to live on, or in close proximity to the business. National Planning Policy Guidance allows for this[1].

9.58 Such dwellings should be commensurate with the needs of the holding and not the person requiring the accommodation. Unusually large dwellings in relation to the needs of the unit, or expensive construction in relation to the income it can sustain, should not be permitted. As such it is considered that an indicative guideline to the floor area of proposed dwellings of approximately 175m² would adequately serve most holdings (based upon national statistics, which show the average floor area of a detached 3 bedroom property is 143m²).

9.59 The potential for abuse with the submission of applications for 'replacement dwellings' on agricultural holdings exists, therefore in order to minimise that potential, the history of the holding will be examined to establish the recent pattern of land use and whether any dwellings or buildings suitable for conversion or occupation have been recently sold separately from the farmland.

Policy HG9: Housing for Agricultural and related workers

A development proposal in the countryside to meet the accommodation needs of a full-time worker in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, equestrian activities or other business where a rural location is essential should demonstrate that:

  • There is a clearly established existing functional need;
  • The enterprise is economically viable;
  • Provision on-site (or in the immediate vicinity) is necessary for the operation of the business;
  • No suitable accommodation exists (or could be made available) in established buildings on the site or in the immediate vicinity;
  • It does not involve replacing a dwelling disposed of recently as general market housing;
  • The dwelling is no larger than that required to meet the operational needs of the business;
  • The siting and landscaping of the new dwelling minimises the impact upon the local landscape character and visual amenity of the countryside and ensures no adverse impact upon the integrity of nationally and internationally designated sites, such as AONB.

Where a new dwelling is permitted, this will be the subject of a condition ensuring the occupation will be limited to a person solely or mainly working, or last working in the locality in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, equestrian activities or other rural business (or a surviving partner of such a person, and any resident dependants).

9.60 In order to retain the property for its intended use, a restrictive condition will be included on any such planning approval limiting its occupation to a person solely or mainly, or last working in agriculture, forestry or a rural enterprise. It is accepted that there will be circumstances where these dwellings are no longer required for the purpose for which they were originally intended. However, to ensure the planning concession for this type of dwelling is not abused, any application to remove a restrictive occupancy condition for any dwelling in the countryside will need to demonstrate that the need for which the dwelling was approved originally, no longer exists. An applicant would be expected to appropriately market the dwelling for a reasonable period at a realistic market price for an agricultural tied dwelling [normally a discount of at least 35% against open market price] to establish whether it could meet the existing functional needs of another local farm or rural business. Evidence demonstrating how this requirement has been investigated will need to be included to support any application to vary or remove a restrictive occupancy condition.

Policy HG10: Removal of Agricultural and other occupancy conditions

Planning permission for the removal of a restrictive occupancy condition for an agricultural, forestry or other similar worker on a dwelling will only be given where it can be evidentially shown:

  • That there is no longer a continued need for the property on the holding or for the business;
  • There is no long term need for a dwelling with restricted occupancy to serve local need in the locality;
  • The property has been marketed locally for an appropriate period (minimum 18 months) at an appropriate price and evidence of marketing is demonstrated.

9.61 The following delivery bodies will be key in implementing Policies HG9 and HG10:

  • South Somerset District Council;
  • Developers and Landowners;
Monitoring Indicators Target
Review through the development management process Retention and provision of specialist accommodation where it is identified to meet the needs of the local community
1. NPPF, March 2012. Paragraph 55 [back]