Our Guide to Occupancy Clauses

Our Guide to Occupancy Clauses

In this week's blog, Kayleigh will provide her insight into occupancy clauses. The existence of a occupancy clause, either local occupancy or agricultural occupancy can restrict who can buy or occupy a property, especially within protected areas such as the National Parks.

Local Occupancy 
Local Occupancy Clauses limit the occupation of a property to those who have an established connection to the local area. The local planning authority will specify what an ‘established connection’ and the ‘local area’ means. The aim of the clause is to prevent the property from being used as a second or holiday home and to keep rural housing affordable for local people. The Lake District National Park Authority and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority apply Local Occupancy Clauses to almost all approved planning permissions for new houses, including conversions. There are many variations of the clause; however, most of them state that the property must be the occupant’s principal residence and that the occupant must have lived or worked in the given area for a certain period of time (will be defined in the clause), or is coming to live or work permanently in the given area.

 


Previously owned local authority properties that have been sold under the Right to Buy often have a Local Occupancy Clause too. Section 106 Local Occupancy Agreements ensure that the clause remains on the property when it is sold. Therefore, new owners will need to meet the requirements of the clause. Each property that is for sale with a Local Occupancy Clause will have the specific wording included in the brochure to enable interested parties to see if they meet the requirements.

Agricultural Occupancy Clauses 
An Agricultural Occupancy Condition restricts the occupation of a property to those employed in agriculture. The aim of the condition is to keep rural housing affordable for agricultural workers. It also allows planning to be granted where there is a proven requirement for an agricultural dwelling, often where a normal application is likely to be rejected.

The usual wording of such a condition is:

“The occupation of the dwelling shall be limited to a person solely or mainly working, or last working, in the locality in agriculture or in forestry, or a widow or widower of such a person, and to any resident dependents”.

The PFK Planning team have in-depth knowledge of Agricultural Occupancy Conditions and have been successful at lifting these conditions a number of times. There are two ways in which an occupancy condition can be lifted.

  1. Full Planning Application

A full planning application can demonstrate to the local planning authority that the occupancy condition is no longer needed. First, it needs to be demonstrated that there is no need for ‘tied’ property on the holding at the time of the application, nor will there be a need in the future. Secondly, it needs to be demonstrated that there is no need for the condition from the local area. To demonstrate a lack of need it is necessary to market the property for sale. If there is no firm interest from anyone who would comply with the condition, a full application can be submitted, with all the supporting information, to request that the condition is lifted.

  1. Lawful Development Certificate

A successful application for a Lawful Development Certificate can suspend the occupancy condition; however, there must have been a continuous 10-year breach of the condition. The local planning authority will request a sworn statement from the both the applicants and third parties as evidence of the breach. Further information such as council tax receipts and the employment history of the occupants can also be used as supporting evidence. A Lawful Development Certificate will only suspend the occupancy condition. If someone who meets the condition occupies the property in the future, the suspension would be lifted and the occupancy condition would apply again.

If you would like to discuss any type of occupancy condition, or if you have any other planning queries, please do not hesitate to contact the Planning team at PFK – email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., tel: 01228 586085

Kayleigh Lancaster - Planning Specialist 

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Friday, 12 July 2024

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