How to Secure Planning Approval for Residential Development of Agricultural Land

How to Secure Planning Approval for Residential Development of Agricultural Land

The planning system in England and Wales is supposed to be ‘plan led.’ That means there is a legal requirement for every council in England and Wales to have an up-to-date Local Plan to guide development over a 10 to 15 year period. This sets out the rules for exactly what can be built where.

If you want to get planning permission on your land, the first thing to do is check what the Local Plan says about your site.

The good news……..

If it is identified for development, or falls within the boundary of a town or village, any application for development is likely to be supported by the Council. For more on how to submit a planning application click here.

The bad news…………

In this article we will consider the options available to you if your land has not been identified in a Local Plan. In the majority of cases,  most agricultural sites will be identified as open countryside where development would be resisted by existing policy frameworks.

So, what options are available to you and how can we help?
Change the Plan!
If the policies in the Plan would stop development on your site, then you can try to influence the policies so they would allow development.

Each Local Plan is only intended to be in place for a fixed period of time (usually 10-15 years), councils periodically produce a new one, in some cases as often as every five years. Any change in Government and National Planning Policy can also influence the requirement to up date a Local Plan.

Before preparing a new Local Plan, the Council will gather evidence on the need for housing, economic growth and environmental issues, amongst other things, and decide how their policies need to change to reflect that evidence.

The next step in this process is for the council is to identify exactly which sites should be developed and where these should be located. This process, often referred to as a Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment of SHLAA involves gathering more evidence about all the potential development sites regardless if size or location.

The aim of this document is to answer three key questions:

  • Is the site suitable for development?
  • Is a development on the site achievable, or are there issues that would prevent it being built?
  • Is the site available for development; has the owner indicated that they would sell?

There is increasing pressure being placed upon Council’s to demonstrate that new homes outlined in Local Plans will be delivered and the introduction of national monitoring measures such as the Housing Delivery Test places greater emphasis on deliverable housing sites (which may not be in the Council’s preferred locations).

This evidence gathering exercise exercise is carried out openly, with frequent opportunities for local residents, land owners and developers to comment on the council’s approach.

These consultations provide an opportunity to promote your land to the council as a potential development site, usually by submitting your own evidence to show how your site meets those three criteria.

If, after this process, your site isn’t allocated in the Local Plan, and you don’t wish to wait until the next time the council review it, there is another way you could potentially secure planning permission. This involves undertaking an assessment of whether the Local Plan is actually achieving its targets and meeting the minimum level of ne housing required. If not, there may be opportunities to pursue an application for planning permission, despite the site not being allocated within the Local Plan, in this next Section we will cover this process in more detail.


Is the Plan working?
When a Plan is adopted, it is intended to deliver a minimum number of homes across the whole of the plan period. To monitor progress against that target, the government has made it a requirement for every council to be able to demonstrate a ‘five-year housing land supply.’ That means that councils should be able to identify where all the homes they need for the next five years are going to be built. Usually, those sites must already have planning permission.

Recent changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, have changed the types of sites included in this calculation, Councils can no longer rely upon allocated sites or large sites with outline planning permission unless there is clear evidence of anticipated delivery within the five year period.

If a council can’t demonstrate an adequate supply of new homes, then its Local Plan clearly isn’t working. In other cases, the period that the existing Plan covers might have come to an end without a new one being but in place. That old Plan will be ill suited to ensuring an appropriate level of development continues to be delivered.

In both those cases, a council’s housing policies can be considered to be out-of-date. In such circumstances, Paragraph 11 of the National Planning Policy Framework is triggered and a presumption in favour of sustainable development is engaged. At such a time, a planning application will be judged on whether they represent sustainable development, rather than whether they meet specific housing related policies within the Local Plan.

What this means is that that greenfield, agricultural sites which are next to an existing town or village will often be considered suitable for development and looked upon more favourably.

Depending on the location, some Councils can become more resistant to this approach than others as they feel they are losing control over where development is located. However, the Government is clear that the planning system has a responsibility to significantly boost the supply of housing to help address the housing crisis we currently face. Consequently, even where councils oppose applications like this, they are frequently over-ruled at appeal.

How can we help you?
PFK Planning and Development has built a reputation for securing planning permission for new homes on land close to existing settlements. Usually through a combination of promoting land through the Local Plan process and monitoring the housing supply position.

If you have a site that you think might be suitable for housing development, please get in touch and we’ll give you our advice entirely without obligation.

Call us on 01228 586805 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Naomi Howard - Graduate Planner

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Friday, 12 July 2024

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Head Office, Agricultural Hall, Skirsgill, Penrith, CA11 0DN