Agricultural Occupancy Condition

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  • RabbitMadRabbitMad Forumite
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    Thanks planning officer,

    The relative lived from 82 to 89 in the house with both parents, then from 89 to 99 with just one and then from 99 until their death alone.

    During this time their occupation (main source of income) was car dealer, electrical retailer and then no occupation (lived off assets and income producing assets)

    I hope that the planning expert is just saying this to allow the chartered Surveyor to give us a low probabte valuation (they are part of the same firm). Then once the District Valuer has approved the valuation they will then turn round and say "actually after looking into this some more we think he was in breach"
  • planning_officerplanning_officer Forumite
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    Unless I'm missing something, I still don't really follow what your planning 'expert' is saying - you say that for at least 17 years your relative did not comply with the agricultural occupancy condition, therefore he was in breach of it. In an earlier post you also say that someone else moved into the property following the death of your relative, so there has been no gap in this breach (and I assume that the breach is still ongoing if this person is still living in the property).

    It therefore seems that provided the breach has been ongoing for the past ten years and is still ongoing (as it sounds like it is), then you would have a decent chance of getting a Lawful Development Certificate for an Existing Use. This is of course dependent on you being able to provide sufficient evidence of the various non-agricultural occupations of your relative and the current occupier.
  • I am looking at an modinised bungalow with barn on 10 acres of land which will be ideal for my livestock and veg. I will look for work on local farms as a self employed worker, so no real concerns as to forfilling the conditions fo AOC. But i have health issues and would like to retire sooner rather than later. does any one have any ideas about the councils expectations on retirement age? ( north Devon district council ) and can i ask the district Valuer for advice about the price, it seems a bit high to me, ( £100.000) to high!:o
  • didgeridoooodidgeridoooo Forumite
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    Hi all, have read through this entire thread with great interest. Thanks very much, especially to Davesnave and Planning Officer who have been kind enough to offer huge amounts of advice to people like me.
    I am hoping to suck a bit more out of you though!!!!!!! (especially Dave as his situation seems very similar to mine, or mine to be)

    I have run a farm business before, a chicken farm selling eggs to local shops and hotels etc, as well as veg, lamb etc. I have considered doing the same again but never had funds to invest. However a friend of mine is pulling money out of stock market (worried about losing yet more money i think!) and wants to buy something a bit longer term, somewhere safe for the money to sit invested in a bit of earth and bricks I think. Anyways, the important point is that my friend would OWN the premises, and me and my family would live there (possibly with my friend as there is a decent annexe attached) and RUN THE BUSINESS.

    We would like to start a chicken farm again, although since we want to become self sufficient we would run any kind of business which made money. From pigs to veg, chicken meat to hay or crops, anything will do, we just want to be farming again and well away from the rat race as we have 3 young boys who are all dying for a more fulfilling and healthy life.

    We have seen a nice enough bungalow + 4 acres which has an AOC attached, plus option to buy 30 acres nearby too. I spoke to the agent today and he said enough to tell me it sounds fairly standard. "Must work the land and earn majority of income from doing so, or must be retired farmers etc". I did consider trying to pull the old string of "i am a retired chicken farmer, sue me" but this thread has taught me that stuff won't wash and many have probably tried before!! We want to fully comply with the AOC and have no desire not to, to have a farm based business is our dream so should fit in fine. the PROBLEM IS ..... we would not be buying the house and land, my friend would.

    Does the AOC apply to the registered OWNER (via land reg) or to the OCCUPIERS? In this case, the owner would be a silent person who rents us the house and land, with us working it to build a business there and increase their investment as well as paying rent. If at some point the owner wanted to move in, that is a possibility but we would continue to run it and live there due to the work involved.

    What problems can I expect here if any?

    Secondly, what actually is the process for going ahead with this? For instance if my friend goes ahead and wants to put an offer in on the property, is that done as normal with any house or does the council or PO have to be involved due to the AOC?

    Any advice or comments greatly appreciated.

    Thanks to all
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Hi didgeridoooo, and welcome to this very long-running thread.

    I don't see any problem with you living as a tenant in a house with an AOC in order to work the land as your main occupation. That is exactly how many of the simple bungalows and houses with such ties came to be built, for tenants. I'd guess in some cases a large enterprise was involved or even a company might have been the owner of some.

    My own house was one of two built to house workers at a nearby pig farm, now defunct, and it was later rented by a young agricultual vet when the pig buildings were replaced by non-agricultural enterprises.

    The wording usually goes something like : ""the occupation of the dwelling shall be limited to a person solely or mainly working, or last working, in the locality in agriculture or in forestry, or a widow or widower of such a person, and to any resident dependants".

    Whether your friend, the owner, could live in it too is another matter, because then he would be an 'occupant,' and if his main living was earned say, tuning sports cars, he would not be in compliance.

    In practice, I think once the local authority are happy that you're complying with the condition, they tend to leave you alone, relying to some extent on the surveillance skills of the parish council (and don't underestimate those!) My own authority has a policy of review every 4 years, but what form that takes is unknown.

    We put an offer on our property in the usual way, but we also sought a meeting with the local planning officer to satisfy ourselves that there would be no problems. Our condition is slightly different as it has no locality clause, and we came from outside the area.

    I must say that the district council here is extremely helpful and approachable, and while I can't say that we had happy experiences everywhere while searching for a smallholding, the majority of planning departments have been keen to assist and answer questions.

    Hope that helps. :)
  • didgeridoooodidgeridoooo Forumite
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    Thanks very much Dave. It is in north Devon, probably not too far from where you are.

    So its ok for me to do what I suggest, as the occupier, but if the owner (in early 60s now and not in great health) wants to move into the annex or even the main property in years to come, I take it that would be a legal problem? I do think, as you and others have said before, that with the economy going the way it is (meltdown within 12 months, MARK MY WORDS!) I really don't see them splitting hairs like this for very long, especially if it was costly which it would be with me because it would be so pathetic that I would fight it equally pathetically if they did spend taxpayers money chasing one occupier of a rural property conducting a large scale agri business!
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Thanks very much Dave. It is in north Devon, probably not too far from where you are.

    So its ok for me to do what I suggest, as the occupier, but if the owner (in early 60s now and not in great health) wants to move into the annex or even the main property in years to come, I take it that would be a legal problem?

    Perhaps if the owner is of retirement age, or thereabouts, he/she could into business with you and do some 'work' on the land, the exact nature of how he/she does this to be worked out with a solicitor specialising in agri matters. This is just a suggestion, mind, as I'm no expert. :o

    I will PM you later, when the chickens are in bed! ;)
  • didgeridoooodidgeridoooo Forumite
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    He he thanks Dave. Mine are in bed, even the littlest one which had trouble finding its way back to mummy :D

    Yes i wondered about that. In theory my friend would own the property (deeds) and therefore could easily have an administrative role in the agri business, considering the farm would be run as a full fledged business, chickens, pigs, sheep, veg etc, I think that should be reasonable to expect, but I know you have to check these things so will do so with an expert if we go ahead, but for now your advice is very much appreciated.

    I tried to PM you earlier but the forum wouldn't let me as I am newly registered. Thanks again
  • planning_officerplanning_officer Forumite
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    I am looking at an modinised bungalow with barn on 10 acres of land which will be ideal for my livestock and veg. I will look for work on local farms as a self employed worker, so no real concerns as to forfilling the conditions fo AOC. But i have health issues and would like to retire sooner rather than later. does any one have any ideas about the councils expectations on retirement age? ( north Devon district council ) and can i ask the district Valuer for advice about the price, it seems a bit high to me, ( £100.000) to high!:o
    I don't think retirement age has anything to do with Councils, to be honest! If you're asking whether you will still comply with an AOC, then yes - as a condition requires you to be mainly working, or last working, in agriculture - so if you're retired you'll comply with the "last working in" part of the condition!
  • planning_officerplanning_officer Forumite
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    Hi Didgeridoooo - just to reiterate what Dave says above, yes you will definitely comply with the AOC. Ownership of the property is completely irrelevant in this case - the condition only relates to the occupier.

    You have mentioned this annexe several times - I would investigate this, as there are different kinds of annexe in planning terms. Many self contained annexes are in fact just part of the main dwelling, and can only be occupied as part of the dwelling - like for elderly relatives for example, where the occupier of the annexe also shares facilities in the main dwelling. Sometimes, self contained annexes actually form in effect a separate dwelling, as they are completely self contained, but they would need planning permission for that, and in this case given that the property has an AOC attached to it, I think it is highly unlikely.

    That most likely means that someone else cannot just live separately in the annexe - it's ok if it's a relative or someone who is in effect living in the house with you, but not someone unrelated who would live independently in the annexe, as that in effect creates a separate dwelling, which needs planning permission. So, I really don't think that the owner could just move into the annexe in this case. They also couldn't just move into the main house as they do not comply with the AOC, unless they have a sudden change in career and decide to work in agriculture!
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