Ag Tags - A Reminder

Publication Date08 Oct 2020
SubjectReal Estate and Construction, Construction & Planning, Land Law & Agriculture
Law FirmRollits LLP
AuthorMs Libby Clarkson

How do you remove an ag tag?

"Ag tags", also known as agricultural occupancy conditions and agricultural ties, are conditions imposed within planning permissions which prevent a dwelling being occupied by a person unless they are employed, or were last employed, in agriculture.

Agriculture is defined in planning legislation as horticulture, fruit growing, seed growing, dairy farming, the breeding and keeping of livestock, the use of land as grazing land, meadow land, osier land (growing of willow), market gardens and nursery grounds, and the use of land for woodlands where that use is ancillary to the farming of land.

Ag tags are not popular as they limit who can buy a dwelling in the event of a sale and as a consequence this may reduce the market value of the property and/or affect the availability of a mortgage or the amount a lender is willing to lend.

Ag tags are also notoriously difficult to remove as they are often imposed in planning permissions for the construction of a farmhouse in a green belt where planning permission would have been refused but for the condition. The three potential ways in which an ag tag can be removed are as follows:

  1. Apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development

Where an agricultural occupancy condition has been breached for over ten years, i.e. where the owner (and/or any occupier(s)) of the dwelling has not been employed (or last employed) solely or mainly in agriculture for over ten years, the owner can apply to their Local Planning Authority for a Certificate of Lawful Development. A Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Use or Development is a certificate issued by the Local Planning Authority which provides that the use of the property in breach of the ag tag is lawful, and once issued, enforcement action cannot be taken by the Local Planning Authority in relation to the breach.

In order to make a successful application the owner must evidence they have continually occupied the dwelling in breach the ag tag (i.e. without being employed in agriculture) for over ten years and that the breach is continuing at the time the application is made, on the balance of probabilities. Unlike a planning application, the Local Planning Authority must only consider the facts of the case when deciding whether to grant the Certificate and cannot consider the planning merits of the case or any planning considerations.

Depending on the wording of the ag tag, an agricultural tenancy of land at the property will not preclude a Certificate...

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