How to get planning permission for developments on agricultural land

It’s no secret: obtaining planning permission for agricultural land can be challenging, fraught with risk and uncertainty.

This is because both the government and local authorities have a duty to protect the UK’s green aspect, farming industries, and, more generally, our way of life.

But, despite an unwavering resistance to approve any changes to our agricultural landscape, there are some instances when planning permission is very valid.

It’s also the case that local authorities must have a plan to address the housing shortage in the UK. And, with slim pickings on development plots in the UK, agricultural opportunities have widely become more enticing than ever.

But before you start laying a single brick, here are some need-to-know pointers to help you navigate a successful planning application to build on agricultural land.

What is agricultural land?

Typically, agricultural land is devoted to the controlled use of other forms of life, such as the rearing of livestock and the production of crops.

It is synonymous with both farmland and cropland.

Okay, when would I need to apply for planning permission?

There are two significant reasons why planning permission is required:

  1. You want to change how you use your land or buildings from farming to something else.
  2. You want to build a new house(s) on the land.

In both instances, adhering to planning policies and understanding precisely what’s required can be taxing.

Our advice would be to speak with a professional developer who can use their experience to guide you through the process and maximise the chance of a successful application.

However, if you are willing to go it alone, you can find more information on the planning process for farms right here.

How to apply for planning consent

As mentioned in our introduction, there are many restrictions in place by local authorities when the repurposing of agricultural land is at play.

For this reason, you must spend the necessary time researching the relevant planning policies before you go ahead with making an application through the government’s planning portal.

Some initial considerations will include:

  • exact positioning of the proposed development, including vehicular access
  • size of dwellings and development as a whole
  • impact on neighbourhood

Of course, the rigmarole for getting planning on agricultural land stretches far beyond these brief points, but we’ve included them to give you an idea of what to expect.

What happens once I’ve submitted my application?

Once your application has been submitted, the local planning authority will have an initial consultation period before a decision is made.

This stage of the process will usually last around 21 days, allowing neighbours, residents, local council, highway engineers, and environmental officers to comment on the submitted proposal with any ideas and/or objections.

Once the consultation has concluded, the local authority will share their decision on your application within eight weeks.

Don’t build without planning permission

We know this point seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many landowners veer off the beaten track to bypass the planning application process.

Our advice? Don’t do it! You could be risking substantial financial losses.

Okay, but what about Class Q developments?

Provided the local authority approves, Class Q development allows farm buildings to be converted into residential properties, with a maximum of five dwellings per conversion.

For each conversion there are nuanced policies to navigate, which state the existing building (barn or outhouse) must be “structurally capable of functioning as a dwelling”.

Furthermore, the existing building must have been used solely for agricultural purposes on or before 20th March 2013.

As long as you meet these requirements, along with various other policies listed here, you may have a strong case on your hands for a successful planning application.

When do I not need to bother with planning permission?

There are several exceptions to getting planning approval, but none of them relate to residential development. You’ll only be exempt from planning permission:

  • for farming operations
  • to use buildings already on your land for farming purposes
  • to change the inside of a building, or make minor alternations to the outside
  • if there are permitted development rights

To conclude…

Securing planning permission for developments on agricultural land is no easy feat, but that’s not to say it’s unachievable.

Providing your planning application has a valid reason, and you meet all criteria set out by your local planning authority, you might just get the green light.

If you want any more advice on planning permissions for agricultural land or want a professional to check your application, feel free to get in touch with our team today.

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