“Where planning permission for a dwelling was granted subject to an agricultural occupancy condition, and where that condition has been breached continuously for more than ten years, the planning system provides a mechanism, in the form of Lawful Development Certificates (LDCs), to confirm that the use of the dwelling is lawful, making it immune from enforcement action. However, a key point that is often overlooked is that the grant of an LDC does not remove an occupancy condition”, says Brian Dinnis of Acorn Rural Property Consultants.
Dinnis explains, “the grant of an LDC by a planning authority for the breach of a condition depends on whether the factual evidence that is available demonstrates on the balance of probabilities that the breach has been continuous for more than ten-years preceding the date of the application. It is not mandatory to obtain an LDC to make an ongoing of breach condition lawful, but obtaining one can provide peace of mind that a breach has become lawful and, therefore, not going to be subject to enforcement action. Obtaining an LDC to confirm that the breach of an occupancy condition is lawful can also assist in achieving a higher value when selling a property.”
“However, the fact that an LDC does not remove an occupancy condition means that even after one has been obtained it is necessary for the breach to continue uninterrupted for the condition to remain unenforceable. This means that any subsequent compliance with the condition would nullify the LDC. If that happened, for example by a void period if a property were not in occupation or if it were occupied by a someone qualifying, then any increase in property value that had been obtained from an LDC would be lost”, says Dinnis.
“Where a breach ceases, the ten-year time limit would start again and the period of the previous breach would not count. Where an LDC has been granted, and where the breach is continuing, an application to remove the condition from the permission should be considered. Any such application will always turn on its own individual facts, but it is helpful to note that Planning Inspectors have consistently removed agricultural occupancy conditions on appeal where LDCs have been granted on the grounds that they are no longer necessary, no longer reasonable, and no longer compliant with the enforceability tests that are set out in national planning policy”, advises Dinnis.
For further information on matters concerning agricultural occupancy conditions or any other planning issues then please contact Brian Dinnis at Acorn Property Consultants on 01278 772655 or firstname.lastname@example.org.