Permission for Rural Workers Dwelling - Occupancy Conditions
If you need a second dwelling on your farm, do you know what is required? Being fully informed might make the difference between success and failure.
Obtaining planning permission in rural or isolated locations can be interesting at best, but being poorly advised or not advised at all, is not the way to proceed. The National Planning Policy Framework expanded the agricultural worker use for such dwellings to now include all rural workers and rural businesses.
All rural worker dwelling planning applications have to be justified, guaranteeing that the occupant of the dwelling must be required for the purposes of the rural business. This can be warranted by for example a livestock farmer with livestock welfare requirements over a 24 hour period not being covered by the farmer alone. Just having a preference for a second dwelling in an idyllic location is not enough. It's the needs of the business that will justify such development and not the needs of the individual.
If you are considering applying for a rural worker's dwelling you need to think:
- Does the dwelling have a functional need on the proposed site?
Agricultural functionality is based primarily on livestock numbers and these need to equate to comfortably more than two full time persons.
- Is the business financially secure?
- At least one of the last three financial years need to show a profit or significant investment.
- Are there any other suitable alternative local dwellings?
- This could be on or off the site but within a reasonable commuting distance.
It is also worth considering whether there is a possibility of an existing building being converted under permitted development rights.
Under the previous national planning guidance there were certain criteria to be met. Today, that criteria is not policy – it is guidance, but most authorities have adopted it for their local policy as it is a means by which to assess applications.
Although at the time of submitting an application a worker occupancy condition being attached to the dwelling is not an issue, always think of the future and your potential businesses requirements. It is not possible to obtain development without an occupancy clause, but in future years remember there is a perceived reduction in the property value based on the reduced number of people who could meet the condition.
Planning authorities do understand that rural business circumstances can change and in selected circumstances occupancy conditions can be removed or modified. However, it is a lengthy process and is not guaranteed.