Farmers And Agricultural Workers Are The Perfect Match When It Comes To Self-Building Agricultural Dwellings
Rant this week from Pete: Agricultural dwellings are certainly one of the better routes to achieving planning permission in this country despite our ridiculously outdated and absurd planning laws which do not seem to be LAWS at all.
They seem to be open to the individual interpretation of each Planning Officer concerned which is typically like a lottery ticket when it comes to obtaining planning permission rather than following a set procedure we can all follow and understand.
There is seriously WAY too much “power” for want of a better word in the wrong hands at Local Planning Authority level and they are the bottle neck to growth and building more energy-efficient homes.
Why is it that 100 planning applications are met with 100 different answers. And some councils seem to be far more obsessed with saving trees and charging fees for everything than they are in supporting zero carbon footprint buildings and self-build homes.
Seriously what difference does it really make in allowing a few people to build their own home where nobody can even see it.
Just this week we had a Local Planning Authority turn down a pre-application in part for not being architecturally different enough.
Considering the LPA was Milton Keynes, where every estate looks identical to the last and concrete cows stand proudly amongst a sea of roundabouts that would have even the most sophisticated sat-nav go a little crazy … it really is beyond a joke that the only Code 6 Energy Efficient Log Home within a 50 mile radius of Milton Keynes would be deemed not architecturally different enough.
Also considering that a very similar design was granted in Somerset, Kent, Norfolk, North Wales and Cumbria recently it seems that all our plans are in the hands of the LPA and totally incomprehensible planning laws.
When I pointed out that they were turning down an energy-efficient sustainable home that was part of the government’s targets to increase energy-efficient homes the lady concerned said “It’s just my opinion not the council’s.”
When challenged further we pointed out that we were not paying for her opinion but wanted to know why an architecturally different energy-efficient home and sustainable home was being refused at the pre-application stage. We were offered a consultation with the Chief Planning Officer at another fee of nearly £350?
YOU WANT WHAT!?!
If this country is EVER going to move forward and solve some of its current housing and energy supply problems they are certainly not going to do it without radically changing ATTITUDES at LPA level.
So while we take up that challenge a little higher up the chain we’ll focus on what you can do with Agricultural Dwellings in the UK today … right now
Feature Article :When It Comes To Planning Permission Agricultural Dwellings Have A Distinct Advantage
Our experience with Milton Keynes LPA is not isolated, we hear from hundreds of you with similar stories that make good sense of why we have such a housing crisis right now especially when it comes to providing affordable houses for first time buyers.
You should make your experiences KNOWN either directly to us and we will voice them or at the new self-build portal which we hi-lighted a couple of weeks ago.
Without first time buyers the whole housing market stutters and stagnates and yet the demand has never been higher or the task of buying your own home in the UK so challenging.
The way the planning system works is quite simple, Parliament makes and passes the planning acts into laws. The government then issues a series of policy documents and statements which the local authorities have to implement to make the planning laws work.
Exceptions are occasionally made to the general restriction on building new houses in the countryside where there is a genuine need for accommodation for a farmer or agricultural worker.
Affordable Home Seeker And An Agricultural Worker?
So if you are a young couple looking for an affordable home of your own and you are an agricultural worker you may be better off than most right now.
Agriculture means any type of farming, horticulture or forestry. Equestrian uses, such as stud farms, riding schools or liveries are not strictly speaking agriculture (again baffling isn’t it?) but can sometimes justify planning permission for a house in the countryside.
Unless of course you are under Milton Keynes LPA who even though the Log Home proposed was in the countryside with a need connected to a stud farm they decided to deny the application because it this one lady’s opinion it was not architecturally different enough, nor could she see there was a need.
Maybe We Should Apply For Planning To Build A Concrete Farm Filled With Concrete Cows With No Sustainable Materials Involved, No Energy Efficiency Or Sustainability And Absolutely No Need For Anyone To Live On The Concrete Farm.
What Do You Think? Permission Granted Or Utterly Ridiculous?
She also clearly had no idea whatsoever of the high quality construction of a Log Home when compared to the poor quality homes that are squashed into every square inch it seems of any new developments as she presumed rather than took the time to explore the possibility that wooden constructed homes, such as our Finnish Kontio Homes are far superior to anything we permit in this country.
Again we will be taking this challenge up at a higher level because unless things change at LPA level we are all doomed to be living in over-crowded inner cities watching programmes such as Countryfile to be reminded of the 90% of open countryside we as a nation reside in.
Councils give close (often with blinkers on it seems) scrutiny to planning applications for agricultural dwellings, especially where new or small agricultural enterprises are involved.
So the idea of sprinkling a few chickens in your back garden and declaring yourself a farmer will not be viewed favourably.
Unless the council is convinced the business is genuine it will not grant planning permission for a new house but … here’s the golden ticket folks …
Whatever Your Plans Are Always Ask The Question Is A Log Mobile Home The Obvious Solution?
It will in any event often grant planning permission for a mobile home to enable the business to become established and prove the need for a permanent house.
So the second golden ticket if you are already a farmer with agricultural workers in your family, the established business is already there and therefore your route to agricultural dwellings is far more straight forward.
Councils expect to see:
- Experience or qualifications in agriculture
- Significant investment in the business.
- A financially viable business, or a business plan working towards it.
- The need to live on the farm (third golden ticket folks) rather than in the nearest town or village.
Thorough preparation is the key to a successful application but we are hearing stories of Planning Consultants taking huge sums of money off some of our clients and not proceeding with any great haste with some of our clients planning permission applications.
Please be very careful with what fees are involved and for what purpose and always check with your Local Planning Authority first to get some idea of what the cost of submitting the application directly with them would cost.
As we have seen in our particular case this week there are no CERTAIN routes here with the possible exception of the agricultural route we are talking about here.
Planning permission for agricultural dwellings is normally granted subject to conditions restricting its occupation to someone engaged in, or retired from agriculture and their dependants. Which will suit your sons, daughters and grandchildren absolutely fine!
Councils also sometimes prevent the house being sold off from the farm through a planning obligation / agreement tying the house to the farm.
Ease Your Way Through The Process And Prepare Ahead As Much As Possible
Here are a few more prevention is better than cure tips that make total common sense but very few people do them this way round:-
1. Before you actually apply for planning permission seek advice from the local council and ask questions about the local planning policy and look for examples of buildings similar to your plans that have already been approved. As we have seen planning policy is for guidance only and rules can sometimes be stretched or broken.
2. Approach your neighbours before submitting your application so that any application or notice from the local authority or notice from them does not come as a surprise.
3. Approach the parish council with your plans early in the process and try to get their support. They can very often steer you away from potential problems and possibly save you money. Be prepared to compromise should you have to.
4. Applications for listed buildings will always require professional planning advice.
5. Most developments are unpopular with someone so be prepared for some negative reactions along the way. Challenge them at LPA level if they seem completely unfair especially when you have information relating to tip number one to hand.
6. It can be beneficial to apply for more than you really want or expect to build so that you have something to negotiate with and compromise on.
7. Consider combining what you are allowed as Permitted Development first and approach your planning application with that in mind.
8. Do not assume your architect is a planning expert. Subtle differences in your approach or wording can make a huge difference.
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Pete Cossie is a time served carpenter and joiner with over 30 years experience in the UK construction industry. His passion for wood and acquiring a trade has meant he has never clocked in for a single day in his life. An entrepreneur with a rare gift for making people feel relaxed and completely at ease within minutes of meeting him.
A self declared man of principles with a passion for meeting people and explaining the often overly complicated process of Log Homes and Self Building in an easy to understand step by step way. With a track record in Shropshire of having built an award winning company in the late 1990’s Pete understands that the most important thing in the world in business right now is customer service. Pete and Diane (who runs the online side of the business) have vast amounts of experience when it comes to making sure bespoke orders come together with military like precision saving you stress and hassle.
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