Farm Diversification can open up opportunities for farmers and their families to generate income alongside their traditional farming activities. Our in-house Town Planner Katie Tregay shares some suggestions for establishing a successful sideline.
It’s nothing new to say that UK farmers have faced numerous hurdles in running a profitable business over the years. As a result, it has been increasingly important for many to consider their business direction and turn to other forms of income outside of traditional farming practices. Not only will farm diversification create new income streams, it can also add resilience and opportunities to other family members. According to the NFU diversification report, in 2021 37% of UK farms surveyed were using their land for non-agricultural enterprises, up from 31% in 2020.
There is a long list of farm diversification schemes that can be considered, and these can range from introducing a new crop variety to significant investment into new buildings and facilities. The “right” one will depend on a number of factors including location, availability of redundant buildings, existing infrastructure and the skills and commitment of the workforce. Examples include self-storage facilities, renewable energy, farms shops and tourist facilities, to name a few.
Once a farm diversification scheme has been decided upon, it is imperative to find out whether planning permission is required, particularly where the project involves diversifying the use of farmland and buildings. The Government have also tried to reduce some of the red tape by introducing permitted development right provisions such as Class Q and R to allow farmers to convert farm buildings into residential properties or commercial premises. However, there are a number of conditions to comply with and prior approval is still required. One other option to highlight is the “28 day rule” which allows sites to be used for a different use, such as a glamping site, for no more than 28 days per year without having to apply for planning permission.
So, whilst farmers are facing continued difficulties over running a traditional working farm, there are a multitude of farm diversification schemes to consider that can complement existing farming activities.
With a wide experience in diversification and planning, our team of Rural Agents across the region welcome the opportunity to discuss ideas for alternative uses. Contact either Katie on 01258 472244 or your nearest office.