Can You Build On Agricultural Land UK?

Can You Build On Agricultural Land UK?
Can You Build On Agricultural Land UK?

What Can You Build On Agricultural Land In The UK?

The same planning permission covers agricultural land in the UK as other types of land; however, there are some additional conditions. You may be considering building:

  • Barns
  • Storage areas
  • Riding arenas
  • Equipment storage
  • Silos
  • Livestock shelters
  • Poultry coups
  • Farmhouses

Agricultural land requires planning permission under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990), if you want to:

  • Change to use of the land or buildings from farming to something else
  • Build a house on the land

Can You Get Planning Permission To Build On Agricultural Land?

Yes, you can get planning permission to build on agricultural land. Agricultural land is land used for:

  • Horticulture
  • Fruit growing
  • Seed growing
  • Dairy farming
  • Breeding and keeping of livestock
  • Grazing

However, it is possible to obtain planning permission to build properties on it instead. Building on agricultural land can be quite complex due to the planning rules. Therefore, it is wise to discuss your needs with a solicitor who understands agricultural planning before starting any work.

In addition, you may find that interpretation of the rules is different from region to region. So, do not presume that carrying out work similar to a neighbour will be allowed. It is not a get rich quick option and carries a lot of risks. Buying agricultural land and unsuccessfully getting planning permission will cost you a considerable amount of money.

What Is Permitted Development On Agricultural Land?

Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) are valuable procedures to be aware of when building on agricultural land. PDRs means there will be no long process of applying for planning permission. There are five cases of permitted development, they are:

  • Class A – Development of agricultural buildings or engineering/excavation on land no more than 5 hectares. You may erect, extend, or alter a structure if it is reasonably necessary to run the agriculture business.
  • Class O – If a building has been an office, it is possible to change it into a house. It must have been used as an office on or before 29 March 2013, and there must be no further restrictions in place; for example, it is a listed building.
  • Class Q – Up to 5 agricultural buildings and 865sq m of floor space can change to dwellings if they are not listed or in conservation areas.
  • Class R – Agricultural buildings can be used for commercial reasons and converted into restaurants, cafes, shops, businesses, leisure facilities, hotels, or commercial storage. The buildings must not exceed 500sq m.
  • Class S – Owners can develop agricultural buildings into a registered nursery or state-funded school as long as it does not exceed 500sq m.

You must apply for a certificate of lawful development from your local council to confirm your Permitted Development Rights before carrying out any work.

Agricultural Land development

What Can Be Done With Agricultural Land In The UK?

With the farming industry in decline, there is lots of unused agricultural land. Farmers are curious to know what they can legally do with their land. With agricultural land relatively low in price, it is reasonable to consider other possible uses and yield a sound Return of Investment (ROI).

Agricultural land that already has planning permission can sell for 20 times the same piece of land with no planning permission. However, agricultural land is essential to our food production, so any requests for planning permission are investigated thoroughly.

Obtaining planning permission for agricultural land is very difficult to do; this protects our naturally beautiful green fields and the economic aspect of farming. Reducing land available to farm will leave our country at risk of food shortages and price increases.

Can You Build A Non-Permanent Structure On Agricultural Land?

You can build non-permanent structures on agricultural land. Still, you will need planning permission if the structure will be used for more than 28 days and/or bigger than 100 m². A non-permanent structure is anything designed not for long term use.

An option for farmers is to diversify their land use, for example, developing a camping site. Camping does not require any permanent structures; however, you may need to seek approval for installing toilets and shower blocks.

Another option could be to use the land for events, like art festivals and local fairs; all would require elements of non-permanent structures like stalls or portaloos.

What Can I Build On Agricultural land Without Planning Permission?

Not all building on agricultural land requires planning permission. Owners of agricultural land can erect, extend, or alter structures on their ground if it falls into the following categories:

  • The land must be no larger than 5 hectares in area
  • Dwellings must not be altered or built
  • The building can only be for agricultural purposes
  • It must not be the first agricultural construct on the land
  • It must not be more than 75 metres from the principal farm building
  • It must not be less than 75 metres from a neighbouring property
  • It must not exceed 12 metres in height or 500 square metres
  • It must not be more than 9 metres from the middle of a road.

Examples of structures you can build without planning permission are outbuildings, a swimming pool, or a two-storey extension.

Permitted Development On Agricultural Land
Permitted Development On Agricultural Land

Building On Agricultural Land Without Planning Permission

Building on agricultural land without planning permission is not advisable as you are committing a planning breach. The landowner will face severe penalties when the local council becomes aware of the structures.

The local authorities have the power to enforce fines and order the destruction of the unsanctioned buildings. Should you find that you have committed a planning breach, you can apply for retrospective planning permission from the local council.

No further action is required should your request be granted. It is advisable to obtain the necessary consent before starting any work because it will save you time and money. If your building has been in place for over five years before the local council becomes aware of it, they cannot carry out any enforcement actions.

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