Living The Dream! Nick Rymer addresses some common (and unusual) planning myths

If you’re ever at home flicking through the channels on the telly, you’re bound to come across one of the many lifestyle programmes that showcase the achievements of DIY builders or self sufficiency gurus. Many is the time I have tuned in to see George Clarke espousing the unique design and build quality of a cabin in the woods, or the quirkiness of a 30 ft long, retro 60’s airstream caravan.

Living The Dream!  Nick Rymer addresses some common (and unusual) planning myths

Doesn’t it look idyllic. However, the work side of my brain can’t help but ask boring, but nevertheless important, questions about planning.

With so many of these programmes around it is no wonder that I often speak to people looking to buy land or buildings in order to realise this dream. Our job is to prepare them for the arduous and complex task of form filling and the plethora of regulation that stands between them and the finished article.

There are a lot of myths surrounding planning which are all too often accepted as truth, and the unlucky self-builder can find themselves in hot water with a planning authority as a result. Let’s take a look at some of the more common, or unusual ones that I have heard:

I would like to buy land and put a log cabin/mobile on it – I won’t need planning for it as it’s a temporary/mobile structure.

STOP! This is a very common belief. If you bring a structure onto a site, plumb it in, provide electricity and generally make it a permanent fixture, you will have the enforcement officer on your back before you can even say ‘George Clarke’.

Moreover, planning law is not only centred around physical development (bricks and mortar etc.) but also the use of a property. As soon as you change the use of a building or land you need consent. A residential log cabin on an otherwise agricultural field is most certainly a change of use.

I would like to buy some land and build a house – I understand that if I keep some animals, they have to allow me to live on site.

Doesn’t the Good Life sound grand? A few pigs, some chickens, lots of home-grown veg. However, you need to tread extremely carefully.

There are such things as ‘Agricultural Occupancy Conditions’. These restrict the occupation of the dwelling to those employed in agriculture. Gaining planning consent for such a dwelling is no easy task, and the applicant must demonstrate an essential need both in welfare and financial terms (e.g. the running of a business) in order to secure the development.

Even for a well-established agricultural business, securing such a consent can be difficult. Applications depend on stock numbers, welfare, the number of staff employed and the effect that having (or not having) a dwelling would have on the business,

I must be able to build a house on this land – the government are desperate for houses!

They certainly are. And driving around Wimborne the results are very apparent.

The difference is, the large sites we see around conurbations are ‘strategic sites’. They are big business and the authority can seek to extract new facilities, schools, roads etc. out of developers in the process. That is why such sites will be removed from the protection of the Green Belt.

Smaller, isolated developments can be much more difficult, as local authorities prefer large, comprehensive schemes that are likely to make a sizeable dent in the housing figures.

I don’t need planning consent for an agricultural building

This is a half-truth. There are permitted development rights available for agricultural buildings, but they are specific. The criteria for such rights include the size of the holding, the location of the building, its use and its size.

Even if you meet such criteria, you must still apply to the local authority who will confirm that planning consent is not required. 

If you are considering any of the above, or other projects which you think might have an implication in planning terms, seek advice first.

You can quickly end up in hot water with the planning department, and things can become extremely costly.  Especially if you have to remove the beautiful and hand crafted, carbon neutral, eco holiday pod that you’ve just finished building in the canopy of farthing wood.

Should you wish to discuss any of these issues in further detail, contact Nick on 01202 639403 or nrymer@symondsandsampson.co.uk, or your local office of Symonds and Sampson.

Doesn’t it look idyllic. However, the work side of my brain can’t help but ask boring, but nevertheless important, questions about planning.

With so many of these programmes around it is no wonder that I often speak to people looking to buy land or buildings in order to realise this dream. Our job is to prepare them for the arduous and complex task of form filling and the plethora of regulation that stands between them and the finished article.

There are a lot of myths surrounding planning which are all too often accepted as truth, and the unlucky self-builder can find themselves in hot water with a planning authority as a result. Let’s take a look at some of the more common, or unusual ones that I have heard:

I would like to buy land and put a log cabin/mobile on it – I won’t need planning for it as it’s a temporary/mobile structure.

STOP! This is a very common belief. If you bring a structure onto a site, plumb it in, provide electricity and generally make it a permanent fixture, you will have the enforcement officer on your back before you can even say ‘George Clarke’.

Moreover, planning law is not only centred around physical development (bricks and mortar etc.) but also the use of a property. As soon as you change the use of a building or land you need consent. A residential log cabin on an otherwise agricultural field is most certainly a change of use.

I would like to buy some land and build a house – I understand that if I keep some animals, they have to allow me to live on site.

Doesn’t the Good Life sound grand? A few pigs, some chickens, lots of home-grown veg. However, you need to tread extremely carefully.

There are such things as ‘Agricultural Occupancy Conditions’. These restrict the occupation of the dwelling to those employed in agriculture. Gaining planning consent for such a dwelling is no easy task, and the applicant must demonstrate an essential need both in welfare and financial terms (e.g. the running of a business) in order to secure the development.

Even for a well-established agricultural business, securing such a consent can be difficult. Applications depend on stock numbers, welfare, the number of staff employed and the effect that having (or not having) a dwelling would have on the business,

I must be able to build a house on this land – the government are desperate for houses!

They certainly are. And driving around Wimborne the results are very apparent.

The difference is, the large sites we see around conurbations are ‘strategic sites’. They are big business and the authority can seek to extract new facilities, schools, roads etc. out of developers in the process. That is why such sites will be removed from the protection of the Green Belt.

Smaller, isolated developments can be much more difficult, as local authorities prefer large, comprehensive schemes that are likely to make a sizeable dent in the housing figures.

I don’t need planning consent for an agricultural building

This is a half-truth. There are permitted development rights available for agricultural buildings, but they are specific. The criteria for such rights include the size of the holding, the location of the building, its use and its size.

Even if you meet such criteria, you must still apply to the local authority who will confirm that planning consent is not required. 

If you are considering any of the above, or other projects which you think might have an implication in planning terms, seek advice first.

You can quickly end up in hot water with the planning department, and things can become extremely costly.  Especially if you have to remove the beautiful and hand crafted, carbon neutral, eco holiday pod that you’ve just finished building in the canopy of farthing wood.

Should you wish to discuss any of these issues in further detail, contact Nick on 01202 639403 or nrymer@symondsandsampson.co.uk, or your local office of Symonds and Sampson.

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