“We are increasingly being asked to advise in situations where the next generation of a farming family is taking on the business and where a second dwelling is needed so that they can live on site without the retiring generation having to move out of the family home”, says Brian Dinnis of Acorn Rural Property Consultants.
Dinnis says that, in some cases, it is possible to use permitted development rights for the residential conversion of an existing farm building, but, if that is not the case, obtaining planning consent for a new build dwelling can be extremely difficult, and may be impossible where the established criteria to justify an agricultural worker dwelling cannot be met. “This is a significant problem for some farming families but the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that was published on 24 July 2018 addresses this by supporting new farm dwellings when the majority control of a farming businesses is being transferred to the next generation”, explains Dinnis.
Dinnis continues, “national planning policy has stated for some time that one of the special circumstances for granting permission for dwellings in the countryside is when there is an essential need for a rural worker to live permanently at or near place their place of work. Where an essential need exists, planning authorities also assess whether the need for a worker to live at their place of work could be met by any existing suitable and available dwelling. Despite the fact that there is established case law that says that a retiring farmer should not be expected to vacate their home to make way for an incoming worker, many farmers will have faced resistance from local planning authorities for second dwellings because the authority has, incorrectly, concluded that the existing dwelling is available to meet the needs of the business – it is good news that the new NPPF should address this problem.”
Some local planning authorities have already introduced their own policies to provide planning permission for new dwellings to enable the succession of farming businesses, and the new national planning policy follows a similar model by making it a requirement that the successor must be taking control of the farming business and be a majority owner of the business. “This requirement has resulted in some unanticipated consequences for businesses that trade as partnerships and where there is no written partnership agreement, where the local planning authority has insisted that the change in ownership structure to give the successor a majority share is documented”, adds Dinnis. “There is no indication that this is a requirement of the new NPPF, but it is likely that other local planning authorities will adopt similar procedures”, concludes Dinnis.
For further information on rural planning matters please contact Brian Dinnis at Acorn Rural Property Consultants on 01884 214052 at firstname.lastname@example.org For advice on partnership matters, please contact Mark Sanders at email@example.com