Removal Of Agricultural Occupancy Conditions: The Importance Of Marketing At A Realistic Price

A recent appeal decision relating to the removal of an agricultural occupancy condition reflects the importance of ensuring that the asking price is realistic and that a proper marketing exercise is evidenced where this is a requirement of local planning policy.

Planning permission had been granted to build an agricultural worker's dwelling and garage which, for planning purposes, was located outside the development boundary and in open countryside. Accordingly, the permission was subject to a standard agricultural occupancy condition limiting occupation to persons solely or mainly employed in agriculture or forestry.

However, after marketing the property for over twelve months, with seventeen farms within a five-mile radius being contacted to ensure that the sale was brought to the attention of the local farming community, there were only three viewings and no formal offers. Therefore, the developer applied to have the occupancy condition removed. As is often the case, the local development plan permitted the removal of an occupancy condition only where it could be demonstrated that there was no existing or foreseeable need for the unit in the locality, and that there had been an independent market assessment following an unsuccessful attempt to market the property at a realistic price.

After reviewing the applicant's marketing report, the Council accepted that there was no longer a functional need for a rural worker's dwelling on the holding and confirmed that it had no concerns with either the duration or extent of the marketing. However, concerns were raised about the inclusion of nine acres of surrounding land within the area marketed for sale and the impact that this had had on the level of interest from those who might meet the agricultural occupancy criteria.


The inspector acknowledged that the £1.1m asking price was based on both the dwelling and nine acres of surrounding land. It was accepted that there were good commercial reasons for including surrounding land but there were no robust planning reasons which justified its inclusion. The value of the dwelling, by itself, was estimated to be £850,000-£900,000 (taking into account a 25% discount for the agricultural occupancy condition). The inspector concluded that the inclusion of the nine acres had inflated the asking price, which raised doubts about the robustness of the marketing exercise.

The appellant indicated that the discount applied to take account of the...

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