Whether you are out to find agricultural land, trade sites with planning, or build your own developments to sell or to rent – what you will learn on this blog post is fundamental to understanding how getting planning permission on agricultural land really works.
Property investors and developers are always looking for ways to get the most out of their investment. Buying land at a lower price seems to be the easiest way to save on costs when developing a home.
There is also a massive price disparity between the price of land with planning permission and land without – sometimes the former can be 50 times the cost of the latter .
For this reason, people are looking at agricultural land and considering the potential of getting planning permission to develop on it. That’s why we’ve put together this straightforward guide for getting planning permission on agricultural land.
Some unwary investors have been duped by schemes claiming to offer agricultural land with the dubious promise of future residential development.
This can happen even when there is very little chance that the land can be converted into a residential development opportunity at any stage in the future – getting planning permission on agricultural land is very difficult indeed.
For some people, this is a way to make extra money, while for others this is a way of life. Farmers sometimes need to develop on their land to sustain their lifestyle or for extra income. But the rules that surround planning on agricultural land are strict.
There’s a good reason for this: Protecting our country’s green aspect is incredibly important. Our way of life depends as much on preserving our island’s beauty as it does on the income that can be generated from building more property.
However, in some circumstances, there are valid reasons for seeking permission on agricultural land. In what follows, we will clarify these reasons to help you better understand the process for securing planning permission on agricultural land.
This is land that has been designated as being solely for the purpose of:
Although the proportion of our economy involved in agriculture has dropped significantly over the last one hundred years, there is still a need for us to sustain our way of life through domestic production of food and drink. Any further erosion of this for development will leave us more susceptible to shortages and increasing prices.
If you own agricultural land, there are two main reasons why you would need planning permission:
These are just summaries, and there are always nuances and intricacies to any planning permission regulation. If you want to make changes like these, then you must seek the help of a professional, which will put you on track toward a successful application.
The first step is to speak to an architect who understands the regulations surrounding agricultural land so you can make an application that works.
As there are slightly different processes in the various parts of the country, choose someone who has worked in your area. An experienced architect will help you navigate the strict rules meant to protect the way our countryside looks. What’s more, you need to work with someone that will help you obtain a high ROI with the planning process.
A quality architect will help you formulate a viable plan for the planning application process. You don’t want to spend time and money just to get an immediate ‘no’ from the planning authority, so work with your architect to ensure your application is well-thought-out and can stand up to scrutiny.
Certain laws allow you to construct your building on agricultural land without getting planning permission on agricultural land, but they are a huge risk. If you build on the land and this is undiscovered for a certain amount of time, then you can automatically gain the right to live there:
You can then make an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness and, if it works out, you can earn the right to stay there.
But this is a high-risk strategy and not one that we recommend. You could be there for 3 years and 363 days before someone complains, and you would end up having to tear the whole thing down – possibly with a lengthy and expensive legal process to boot. It is far better to stick to the rules and make an application in the spirit that it was set up.
There are still some areas where you can buy agricultural land with some hope that it will turn into a development opportunity and provide a return on your investment.
Don’t think that this is an effortless way to get rich; the process is fraught with risk and you can lose a lot of money, and be cynical about these schemes that promise the earth and then run off with your money. You will need to do a lot of the groundwork yourself to ensure that you have a genuine opportunity.
Here are some of the initial actions you can take prior to applying for planning permission.
To obtain planning permission on agricultural land, you must do a fair amount of research. If you research the planning policies of the areas local to you, then you may find that an opportunity exists to develop housing of some sort, as local areas must have a plan in place to address the housing shortage in the UK.
There will likely be a plan published on your council’s website that indicates where development may be allowed and where it probably will not. Use this information to make a decision on whether a planning application would be worth the investment or would be a waste of time and money.
You can approach the owner of the land to buy, subject to successful planning permission. This might mean that you pay a little up front to keep the deal exclusive, but don’t complete on the purchase until you get the planning permission that you need to develop. If there is no forthcoming permission, and therefore no development, then you don’t buy – just walk away.
Unlike scammers who lead unsuspecting investors to their ruin, professional architects and planners can help guide you through the prickly process of obtaining planning permission. One of the first things an architect will bring up is an agricultural prior notice consent form, which allows you to erect a temporary building on the site (for up to five years) and start to build your permanent home.
Again, as there are such strict permission laws relating to agricultural land, you have to jump through certain hoops in order to get this permission. You must prove that you need to be on site permanently to run the business on the rest of the land. So, if you have livestock, for example, and need to be present 24 hours a day for their protection and safety, this would be a sufficient reason for staying on the land. Any genuine farmer with a genuine farming business should be able to satisfy this condition and gain the required permission to begin building.
You have five years in your temporary accommodation before you need to think about getting the permanent home building completed. This is the point where you will need to submit the full application for a home and provide the evidence that you are required on site to run your agricultural business.
None of this is easy, and there is certainly no guarantee of success, but it can make the process run a little smoother and give you at least a small chance of getting land cheaply and turning a profit on it. There are never sure-fire bets with property development and this is no exception.
If you get the right advice from the outset and work with an architect who specialises in agricultural properties, then you stand a much better chance of submitting a successful application. Architects are worth their weight in gold on tricky projects like this, so look out for one that knows their stuff and you will be in the best position possible.
The process for this is fairly similar to any planning application process. You must consider the application before having plans drawn up to submit to the relevant local authority.
As local authorities may have more than one planning officer, some may specialise in planning permission on agricultural land, particularly in parts of the county where this type of land classification is prevalent. It is a good idea to meet the relevant officer beforehand to increase your chances of a successful application. They are usually generous with their time and will answer any questions you have. Developing a relationship with them will help:
A helpful planning officer will give you ideas and suggestions that will help your planning permission application go through, so time spent with them can be extremely valuable in the long run. Planning officers will find it easier to say ‘no’ than to say ‘yes,’ but if you communicate with them and find out what they are looking for, then your chances of a ‘yes’ improve markedly.
You need to think about all of the details that will comprise your planning application. This includes things like:
Your planning application should be detailed enough to cover any lingering doubts the planning authority might have. Don’t leave anything to chance – be sure to cover every detail of your application to make your case as strong as it can be.
When seeking planning permission on agricultural land, a consultation will be initiated that is necessary for making the final decision. The planning authority will consult with certain people to see if they have any ideas or objections about your proposal. These people include:
The result of all of these consultations will be factored into the final decision. This helps the planning authority assess the full impact of your planning application before letting you know what they have decided. The right developments must take all of these factors into account. Remember that the integrity of the agricultural land in this country is their primary concern.
Not every planning application will be successful, but if you listen to the advice from the planning authority you can learn from this. It may be that the proposal is refused outright, or that they make recommendations to improve the application – with a chance of success on reapplication. The timescale for a planning decision is 8 weeks, so there isn’t really time in this for much discussion or negotiation.
You sometimes have to take the refusal on the chin and start again, but don’t turn it into an argument or become disheartened. You can learn from a refusal and use the information for your next application – whether it is on this project or another.
Getting planning permission on agricultural land isn’t easy, which is why you need the help of a professional to guide through the process. You should speak to a professional who has experience in agricultural development and who will set you on the right path.
Send us an email today so we can assist you in securing planning permission on agricultural land. We can help you save a lot of time, money and heartache.