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Occupancy Conditions and Dependents

There has been a recent case involving the examination of the terms of an agricultural occupancy condition.

The current occupier of a dwelling sought to make an application for a lawful development certificate on the basis that her occupation of the unit had been in breach of the occupancy condition for a period in excess of 10 years, and therefore her occupation was lawful.

The condition provided that 'the occupation of the dwelling shall be permitted to persons employed or last employed solely or mainly and locally in agriculture as defined by section 290(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, or in forestry and the dependants (which shall be taken to include a widow or widower) of such persons.'

The basis of the application was that for a period in excess of ten years as an agricultural worker she had made no profits whatsoever, and therefore her husband and children had not been her dependents during that time and therefore there had been a clear breach of the terms of the occupancy condition for the required ten year period.
The application was not determined by the council and refused on appeal by an inspector.

The applicant challenged the inspector's decision in the High Court.

The applicant advanced an argument that dependency had as an essential element a financial element, and if that was not present then there was no 'dependency'.

The judge disagreed with the approach and stated that dependency had a wider context in this case than just financial dependency; it could involve support and time as key factors.

He further advised that each case would fall on its own facts and be interpreted accordingly.

The case offers general guidance as to the issue of dependency in the context of occupancy conditions.

Case ref : Shortt v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor [2014] EWHC 2480 (Admin)