A shortage of rural housing can pose a challenge when considering changes to a farming business, Jack Edwards suggests revised planning legislation could offer options.
When considering the future running of a farming business and the next generation of that business, it is important to ask yourself where will they live? We often speak to clients who have a farmhouse but lack secondary accommodation and this can be problematic when they are beginning to consider a change in the running of the business. In the case of retirement, it can be difficult for the older generation to consider moving out of their family home faced with the realisation of having to relocate somewhere new often further afield. This is not only an issue that is confined to a generational change but also to farming businesses where they lack suitable onsite accommodation for farm workers which in effect impedes the development of the business.
Retirement ages in farming tend to be higher than other sectors meaning agriculture as an industry has an ageing workforce and often the housing needs of the next generation can be a hurdle that is difficult to overcome. Succession planning is key to the viability of any business and can be an emotive topic. A lack of rural housing for either a retiree or a successor may prevent discussions surrounding succession planning from progressing or even happening altogether.
The revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the governments planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. Within the NPPF there is now support for new farm dwellings where there is an essential need for rural workers including those taking majority control of a farm business to live at or near their place of work.
This was a welcome revision to the existing NPPF and one which allows farmers an opportunity to increase the number of dwellings on their holding. Each case is judged on its own merits and amongst other factors there must be a genuine need for the worker to be housed on site as well as the business demonstrating that it is financially sound.
There may be certain conditions placed upon the planning permission which would impose an Agricultural Occupancy Condition on the property but where these are being occupied by an agricultural worker it should not cause a problem.
Succession of a farming business does not happen overnight and the transition can last years. Securing planning consent for an additional dwelling or dwellings on a farm can also be a relatively lengthy process and even then, the dwelling still has to be constructed.
At Symonds & Sampson we are experienced in preparing successful planning applications for additional housing on farms either as a result of a retirement or where there is simply not adequate housing for the size of the holding. If you would like to talk about the possibility of increasing the number of dwellings on your own holding please contact Jack Edwards on 01722 334323 or our professional team.