Many farmers are looking at opportunities to branch out into new enterprises. Well planned and managed, these enterprises can benefit the farmers who run them, and the communities in which they live.

They can generate alternative uses for land and buildings and create new jobs and services in the countryside.

If you are one of these farmers, you need to understand the planning system and how to improve your chances of getting planning permission for your proposals. Most agricultural development, such as new farm buildings, also now requires some form of planning consent.

The planning system is designed to regulate the development and use of land in the public interest. The system has an important role to play in encouraging development which supports the rural economy and protects and enhances the countryside.

Agricultural dwellings

Planning permission is always required for dwellings. In the open countryside it is normally granted only in exceptional circumstances, for example if it is essential for a farm worker to live at or in the immediate vicinity of the workplace in order to attend to livestock. If permission is granted, it is usual conditional on the dwelling being kept available to meet that agricultural need. Occupancy will be restricted to people currently or last involved in agriculture.

When granting planning permission for a new agricultural dwelling subject to an occupancy condition, local planning authorities may also attached similar conditions to existing dwellings on the holding which are under the control of the applicant, do not have occupancy conditions and need at the time of the application to be used in connection with the farm. These conditions can be lifted if circumstances change. Planning authorities need to be certain that there is no longer any agricultural need in the locality

Farm shops

It is normally assumed that the use of a farm shop only for the sale of unprocessed goods produced on that farm is a use which is ancillary to the use as a farm and therefore does nor require specific planning permission. However, use as a farm shop selling a significant amount of produce from elsewhere is a separate use and therefore requires planning permission.

Stables for horses

You will need planning permission for stables if they are for horses for riding or breeding. However, working horses used for agriculture count as livestock and their stabling comes under the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) provisions, so you may not need planning permission.

Rural diversification

There are often opportunities for reusing or adapting existing rural buildings for new commercial, industrial, or recreational uses. Such re-use or adaptation can help to reduce demands for new building in the countryside, can encourage new enterprises, and can provide jobs needed in rural areas. There should generally be no reason for preventing the reuse or adaptation of agricultural land and other rural buildings for new uses. provided their form, bulk and general design are in keeping with their surroundings. Proposals for conversion of existing buildings may be more acceptable if they respect local styles and materials.

Holiday accommodation

You will need planning permission if you are converting old farm buildings or erecting new buildings.

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