The process of establishing a viable agricultural holding can be daunting. Rural Surveyor Tim Hale offers some advice on the steps to take to reach your goal.
One of the most significant limitations to aspiring young farmers or new-entrants in developing a livestock enterprise is the lack of suitable affordable farms to rent or buy. Since the introduction of Farm Business Tenancies in 1995, many holdings have had their residential elements stripped out before the land is put out to tender to achieve highest rents on the open market. This is not only because of the demand for residential housing in the countryside but also blocks of bare land are more appealing to large established enterprise who can tender far higher rents than a young developing business.
This leaves the majority of young farming entrepreneurs dead in the water; however, all is not lost provided you have ambition and a viable business plan. We have successfully undertaken the challenge of advising several clients in the process of developing their business, particularly those hoping to obtain planning permission for the buildings and residential element required to be able to provide the duty of care to the livestock and give the enterprise the security of a holding.
An agricultural enterprise can be established on a holding of as little as five hectares of land, but closer to ten hectares would be a preferable starting point. Under a prior notification application where a need is necessary for agriculture, it is possible to erect an agricultural building on a holding of five hectares or more, subject to conditions.
This building is the first stage in establishing the holding, it might perhaps be a general storage building to establish the principle of there being an agricultural building in this location. We have found that once the principle of the building has been established, there is less resistance to subsequent buildings. Ultimately, the goal is to create a holding based upon dependant livestock which will require a worker to live within sight and sound. Examples of this would be calf rearing or suckler-cows.
The next stage is to form a resilient business plan, which would include an application for a further building which will house your livestock enterprise and a temporary consent for an agricultural workers dwelling for which there is an essential need based upon the business plan. If you are in a sensitive area, then it is possible to apply for the second livestock barn before the temporary agricultural workers dwelling but often our client will want to know that they can start their enterprise before investing significantly in farm buildings. That is why the livestock barn and the temporary agricultural workers dwelling are often combined and the applications submitted at the same time.
On the grant of planning consent for the second building and temporary dwelling, the young entrepreneur gets the opportunity that they have been waiting for, they now have a farm! A temporary planning consent is for a fixed time limit, typically three years, during which the enterprise must prove to be a viable business achieving a profit. Provided the enterprise proves be profitable and continues to have the essential need for a worker to live within sight and sound of the livestock then an application for permanent or retention of the temporary workers dwelling can be submitted to complete the process.
Tim Hale is a Rural Surveyor based in our Salisbury Office. If you are interested in creating and developing your own agricultural livestock enterprise and would like advice in creating a new holding, please contact Tim on 01722 334323.