Agricultural Occupancy Conditions

10th July, 2018 by Natasha in General


From the late 1950s onwards dwellings built for agricultural purposes were normally subject to occupancy conditions. Whilst there have been many variations,the standard condition now adopted usually states:-
“The occupation of the dwelling shall be limited to a person solely or mainly employed, or last employed, in the locality in agriculture or in forestry,or a widow or widower of such a person, and to any resident dependants”.
Irrespective of changes to the farm, the condition will remain on the dwelling ensuring it is available to the wider ‘agricultural community’.


The market for agricultural dwellings is generally poor, although during buoyant times when alternatives are harder to find, some dwellings can be in demand depending on whether buyers who qualify are looking at the time the property is for sale. Studies by Acorus show the discounts associated with such sales range from 5% to 28% from unencumbered values. However, there is no right or wrong answer,it depends on the circumstances.


‘Agriculture’ in planning terms is defined in the Agriculture Act dating back to the 1940s. Employed in agriculture in its primary sense, means ‘involved with growing crops or looking after livestock’. Persons supplying services to agricultural businesses, such as agronomists or even contractors, do not normally comply.


In order to remove a condition a planning application has to be submitted to the Local Planning Authority. Two matters have to be proven; lack of need on the holding and in the locality for the dwelling. Whilst need on the holding can be established with an assessment of stocking, cropping and land farmed, need in the locality will generally require a marketing campaign. A marketing campaign will establish whether there is a need in the locality for an agricultural dwelling.


The Planning Act allows for a breach to become unenforceable once sufficient time has passed at which point Local Planning Authorities can no longer take action. In the case of agricultural occupancy conditions, this is ten years. If non compliance has occurred continuously for ten or more years, a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development (CLEUD) can be applied for which allows for future lawful occupation of the dwelling without complying with the condition. Such cases are a matter of fact and should be handled with care particularly if the dwelling has been occupied by tenants.


It is possible to amend a condition, for example to bring it in line with the modern wording or to add other non-agricultural uses such as equine. This also has to be done by way of a planning application.

Acorus Planning Consultants are experienced in all aspects of Agricultural Dwellings and Occupancy Conditions. It is important to prepare an application correctly. A great deal of misinformation is given regarding what an occupancy condition means so talk to us first.

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