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Are Landowners Stuck With An Agricultural Occupancy Condition Forever?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

In rural areas, if planning is granted for a residential building, the local authority may impose a planning condition to restrict its occupancy to someone involved in agricultural work (and their families).

This condition obviously substantially reduces the market value of the property and historically, local authorities have been very reluctant to remove the planning condition.  A recent case concerned Winchester City Council.  The relevant part of the local plan stated,

“that occupancy conditions on essential rural workers dwellings will only be removed where the Council is satisfied that the long term need for the dwelling has ceased and there is no evidence of a continuing need for housing for workers solely or mainly employed in agriculture or forestry on the holding or in the surrounding area.”

The landowners applied to the Council to remove the agricultural occupancy condition, the Council refused and the landowners appealed.  The appeal was successful, the decision being that the agricultural occupancy condition was no longer reasonable or necessary.

Whilst this was good news for the landowner, it had taken many years to get to this point and the landowner had gathered a substantial body of evidence.  The facts were:

  • Marketing of the property had been carried out for an extended period of time (since 2013) – the marketing had not only reflected the discount on value as a result of the occupancy condition but had also, amongst other things, been placed in specialist publications;
  • This was an expensive property which was out of reach for most agricultural workers even factoring in the discount for the occupancy condition.

If a landowner is considering applying to remove an agricultural occupancy condition it appears that extensive marketing will need to have been carried out prior to making any application and also the higher the value of the property the more likely the removal of the condition given that it appears the property is likely to be out of reach for agricultural workers even with the discount.

If you need any land or property advice, please contact our Specialist Team.

Nina Wilson

Posted:

Nina Wilson

Partner

Nina is a Solicitor and Partner of almost 20 years experience advising clients on commercial property law. A Legal 500 recognised Lawyer, Nina has acted in multi-million pound acquisitions and development agreements.