Agricultural buildings – the long game

Partner Jonathan Midgley discusses planning consideration ahead of development on agricultural land.

If you are buying or you already own agricultural land and you are thinking of undertaking some development, you may be tempted to go for a pre-application 28 day notice to the local planning authority for permitted development for an agricultural building.  This is quick, fairly inexpensive and unlikely to be turned down, although it will depend of course on the suitability of the building for the holding.

Under this procedure the structure can be built without full planning consent.  However the long term issue is the structure’s use and its continuing use, because its use is strictly limited to agricultural use only.  Any other use is not covered by the permitted development, so if you wish to use the structure in the future for another use, for example storage, then a change of use application is required and the outcome cannot be guaranteed.  The strict position is that if the agricultural use has come to the end, then the local planning authority may require the removal of the structure. Great care is required when looking at agricultural buildings if your purpose is not agricultural or may change in the future.

Similarly, care is needed in using the procedure if you live in an agriculturally restricted property which has a certificate of lawfulness which renders you, the occupier (as a non-farmer), immune from enforcement by the local planning authority. If you use the permitted development route for an agricultural building claiming an agricultural use to justify the erection of the structure, you may inadvertently cancel the immunity from your own occupation by virtue of you reconnecting the agricultural occupancy condition to your dwelling as you have ostensibly claimed to be using the land for agricultural purposes.

Therefore it is always appropriate to consider fully the correct planning route for any agricultural building because to have a wider use class, namely one that is not limited to agriculture, may be a better fit for your proposed land use in the long-run.

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