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REMOVING AGRICULTURAL OCCUPANCY CONDITIONS

If planning permission is granted for a residential property outside a recognised settlement, the permission is usually only granted if the occupation of the property is controlled through an occupancy condition. These conditions in the main restrict occupancy to those employed or were last employed in agriculture.  The position may also be protected by the imposition of planning obligations by means of a planning agreement under the Town and Country Planning Act. 

The process

If one seeks to remove such an occupancy condition then this is usually by an application to the Local Authority to, in effect remove the condition from the planning consent.  The process pursuant to Section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which, if approved, has the effect of creating a new freestanding planning consent without the agricultural occupancy condition. 

What is required to remove an agricultural occupancy condition?

The Local Authority are only likely to be persuaded to remove an agricultural occupancy condition if it can be demonstrated that there is no existing or foreseeable need for the dwelling and its occupancy condition. In order to evidence this, it is normal that the property is advertised for a period of between 8-12 months for sale at a realistic sale price.  At the end of that period if there is no interest in the property it is appropriate to have an independent market assessment carried out by a surveyor, taking into account the marketing exercise to demonstrate that there is not or existing or foreseeable need for the dwelling. 

It should be noted that with the current increase in general property prices, the price of a modest residential property with an agricultural occupancy condition may be outside the price range and means of prospective agricultural purchases.  In this scenario, this may give the opportunity of a removal of an agricultural tie that may have been considered impossible of removal in previous economic times. 

Our experience

From experience, if you are seeking the removal of an agricultural occupancy condition it is important to consider firstly the nature of the agricultural occupancy condition and then to devise an appropriate marketing strategy and appoint a marketing consultant to provide the base evidence which will support an application to remove the consent.  Recent decisions clearly point to the fact that if a realistic marketing exercise is established and there are no prospective purchasers, the prospect of removing an agricultural occupancy condition is good.  

If you have questions or would like any further information, please contact Gareth Pinwell on 01752 526015 or g.pinwell@ashfords.co.uk.

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