Q&As

A lawful development certificate is being sought for a farm dwelling. The property is subject to a planning condition which only allows occupation of the dwelling to a person solely, mainly or last employed in the locality in agriculture. The applicant has lived in the dwelling for over 15 years. The applicant (as the co-owner of the farming enterprise) has employed a farm worker to run the farming operations and has confirmed that he has not been involved with farming activities. The source of the applicant’s current income is unknown but the applicant has confirmed that no income has been derived from the farming operations or by him from any other agriculture or forestry in the last ten years. Would this constitute a breach of the planning condition? Is there any case law on the words ‘solely, mainly or last employed in the locality in agriculture’? As a co-owner of the farming enterprise would this satisfy the planning condition?

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Published on LexisPSL on 06/04/2016

The following Planning Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • A lawful development certificate is being sought for a farm dwelling. The property is subject to a planning condition which only allows occupation of the dwelling to a person solely, mainly or last employed in the locality in agriculture. The applicant has lived in the dwelling for over 15 years. The applicant (as the co-owner of the farming enterprise) has employed a farm worker to run the farming operations and has confirmed that he has not been involved with farming activities. The source of the applicant’s current income is unknown but the applicant has confirmed that no income has been derived from the farming operations or by him from any other agriculture or forestry in the last ten years. Would this constitute a breach of the planning condition? Is there any case law on the words ‘solely, mainly or last employed in the locality in agriculture’? As a co-owner of the farming enterprise would this satisfy the planning condition?

Section 171B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 states that a breach in a planning condition achieves immunity from enforcement action after the end of the period of ten years beginning with the date of the breach. Thereafter the ongoing lawfulness of the breach can be proven through an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness.

Whether the agricultural occupancy condition has been breached depends on the specific facts of the situation and wording of the condition. Although we have found no case law specifically in relation to whether owning a farming enterprise counts as being employed in agriculture, related case law has shown that the courts have taken a liberal interpretation of agricultural occupancy conditions in establishing that there has been no breach. See for example:

  1. Shortt v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government—this involved an interpretation of dependency in the context of an agricultural occupancy condition, but includes some useful general commentary on requirements and circumstances to satisfy the condition. The Court of Appeal specifically mentioned in this case that ‘the agricultural occupancy condition had not tied occupation to a particular agricultural enterprise, nor required the continuing profitability of the agricultural business’

  2. Ellis v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government —this case considered a breach of an agricultural occupancy condition and held that even though t

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