Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)

Agricultural, forestry and other occupational dwellings in the countryside

8.57 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.

8.58 Annex A of Planning Policy Statement 7, Sustainable Development in Rural Areas, identifies that new houses in the countryside require special justification for planning permission to be granted. This policy sets out the criteria to be considered where a new dwelling in the countryside is claimed as being necessary. The requirements for clear evidence of need and an appropriate size of dwelling seek to prevent possible abuse of the concession, and comply with national guidance. This section aims to give greater detail on this issue and provide more guidance and certainty for prospective developers and occupants.

8.59 PPS7 identifies that such dwellings should be commensurate with the needs of the holding and not the person requiring the accommodation. It further stipulates that 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). This is consistent with the suggestion in PPS7 which states that Local Authorities may wish to consider the removal of Permitted Development rights for such dwellings to enable the continued viability of maintaining the property for its intended use.

8.60 PPS7 also identifies the potential for abuse with the submission for applications for ‘replacement dwellings’ on agricultural holdings. It suggests that local authorities should investigate the history of the holding 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 HG8 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:

  • 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 character and appearance of the countryside and ensures no adverse impact upon the integrity of internationally designated sites.

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.

8.61 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 HG9 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.