Planning Permission In The Countryside

31st January, 2018 by Acorus

Gaining planning permission in a rural environment involves the same process as in an urban context but the ‘rules’ and issues can be quite different. Urban planning generally depends on allocations, development boundaries and design, whereas in a rural area exceptions to more protective policies are the norm, although various permitted development options now exist.


The use of any land or buildings for agriculture does not require planning permission as it is not development. This includes the grazing of any animal including horses. Structures such as pig arks are not buildings and therefore are a use and don’t require permission. Agricultural businesses still have anumber of permitted development rights which can be used when erecting new buildings. However, care needs to be taken with permitted development as other rights can be removed by using them.


Most horses are not kept agriculturally so permission is required to keep them in existing buildings. If the land is used purely for the ‘grazing’ of horses, no planning permission is required. Fixed field shelters require planning permission; mobile moveable ones for horses do not if the land has permission for the ‘keeping’ of horses. This requires a Change of Use planning permission, although Local Authorities rarely enforce on this.

Change of Use of Buildings

Government Policy has for many years promoted re-using rural buildings for a variety of purposes from economic to residential uses. This has and continues to open opportunities for businesses to base themselves in rural areas and has increased the value of rural buildings in the right locations. However, permitted development rights have potentially made re-use of buildings easier to achieve to those that meet the rules. Developers can either make use of the right or look to argue the fall-back position is relevant to their proposal.


There are a range of designations that affect rural development from Green Belts to National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). These do not change the rules on what is development but can limit some permitted development rights. If planning applications are required they can also be critical to the case.

If you encounter rural planning issues a Rural Planning Consultant will be able to advise you on the best tactics.

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