Agricultural Occupancy Condition

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  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Wales was where I was going when I found this instead. Doesn't have to be isolated either. There's some nice property in the Towy/Teifi valley areas and in Pembrokeshire. I don't know north of Aberystwyth.

    No language issues here, (I'm a local!) but in truth there are parts of rural Wales with lots of English people. If you are respectful of the local community, I think there's no problem in the vast majority of places, England or Wales.
  • There is an AOC and the hammer fell at...£602,000! Out of our price range,
    Davesnave wrote: »
    someone in the know has more than a hunch about redevelopment.

    On a similarish subject I've updated this thread of mine from last year as the sellers have now had the agricultural restriction lifted but increased the price by £200k as a result!
  • edited 29 July 2010 at 1:30PM
    elljayelljay Forumite
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    edited 29 July 2010 at 1:30PM
    I've seen a nice farm cottage to rent with agricultural occupancy condition, would working as farm secretary count? Or would it have to be an actual stockman etc. And if it's tied in some way, eg the cottage comes with the job and the rent is low as a consequence, would that count too as complying with the conditions, even if it's only part of your income? How do they assess that anyway?

    Or maybe I'm worrying too much and no-one checks anyway!

    Thanks

    LJ
  • lincroft1710lincroft1710 Forumite
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    If a cottage comes with a job, it won't be advertised as a rental. It could be that the farmer is advertising it, hoping he won't be able to let it because of the AOC, so he can then go to the planning authority and ask for the AOC to be removed so he can then rent it at a normal rent or sell it on.
  • Facinating topic. My husband and i have a bungalow with 45 acres in Kent. A modest 3 bed ugly bungalow which was sinking and looked an eyesore (according to my neighbours) due to awful bricks and roof tiles. We paid £550,000 for it, i don't believe anyone employed in agriculture could have afforded to buy it, even then.

    We had no previous farming experience when we bought it but intended to farm it which we have been doing for 5 1/2 years now. Pigs, cattle, sheep and making hay/silage. I am full time on farm and my husband works on it every evening and weekends. We both love the life. We managed to extend the bungalow although only 50% of existing floor area.

    I have horses and planning permission was obtained for a riding arena 4 years ago.

    We received a questionaire 3 months after purchase asking us if we are comlying with the AOC. Since then we have heard nothing.

    Now, my question is this. We have complied with the AOC for the first 5 1/2 years, if i decide to scale everything down effectively to being a hobby farmer, can i claim that i am still compying with the AOC as i have been 'previously employed in agriculture' (for 5 1/2 years)?

    We wouldn't want to give up completely as we love breeding our pigs especially. Can anyone answer this question for me?
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Sarah_P wrote: »
    Now, my question is this. We have complied with the AOC for the first 5 1/2 years, if i decide to scale everything down effectively to being a hobby farmer, can i claim that i am still compying with the AOC as i have been 'previously employed in agriculture' (for 5 1/2 years)?

    We wouldn't want to give up completely as we love breeding our pigs especially. Can anyone answer this question for me?

    This would depend on your age, your relationship with neighbours and the zeal with which the local authority pursues these things! You seem to have answered the last part yourself. With cuts in local authority funding, I think we can assume that past diligence will not be exceeded anytime soon. Councils have more important stuff to do.

    Also it would depend on what you did with the land; you can't 'hobby farm' 45 acres. As long as the land is kept in good nick no one will get upset, but as you'll know, country folk don't like to see land wasted. ;)

    Assuming then that you let some land out, there would be implications for HMRC, but they don't usually talk to councils, so no problem there. Only if there were some dispute about your fulfilling the terms of the tie would the accounts be looked at. Even then, what would be to stop you returning to 'full time' farming, at least until they went away again? There's little chance now that they would wish to force a showdown & attempt to remove you.

    All my opinion of course. You could always have a half hour meeting with a specialist agricultural solicitor. I did, and I have to say, it was a bit of an eye-opener! :)
  • Thank you Davesnave.

    We would always farm the land for hay, the best way to make agricultural money in this area!

    Animals will be increasingly expensive to feed throughout this winter so would be looking to cut down on breeding animals.

    But is making hay really farming - as it takes up a lot of time in July but not much 'time' the rest of the year and ealier posts in relation to AOC were talking about the amount of 'time' spent farming rather than the amount of money made (or not) in relation to satisfying AOC conditions.

    Plannig Officer - would love your advice aswell?
  • Sarah_P wrote: »
    We had no previous farming experience when we bought it but intended to farm it which we have been doing for 5 1/2 years now. Pigs, cattle, sheep and making hay/silage. I am full time on farm ...

    ... Now, my question is this. We have complied with the AOC for the first 5 1/2 years, if i decide to scale everything down effectively to being a hobby farmer, can i claim that i am still compying with the AOC as i have been 'previously employed in agriculture' (for 5 1/2 years)?
    Hi Sarah - yes you would still be complying with the AOC, as the standard wording of a condition includes someone 'last employed in agriculture' - as you point out. You would cease to benefit from complying with that though if you then took another (non-agricultural) job, if that job exceeded the man (or woman!) hours of your hobby farming. It doesn't sound like you want to do that though.
    Sarah_P wrote: »
    We received a questionaire 3 months after purchase asking us if we are comlying with the AOC. Since then we have heard nothing.
    Sneaky - was this from the Council? That's cunning actually - I imagine they might send a questionnaire every few years to all properties with an AOC (at least once every 9 years), as then if someone submits an application for a Lawful Development Certificate to try and show that the AOC has not been complied with for 10 years (and therefore does no longer need complying with), they have direct evidence to the contrary!
  • Thank you Planning Officer. I don't intend to get another job, perish the thought! Yes the questionaire was directly from Tunbridge Wells BC and yes i thought they would send it out again but not so far, bet they do at 9 years though.
    :jI don't mind the AOC however, what bugs me is that i cannot do what i want with my time. I would like to open a small cattery, say 10 cats max, still keeping the farm going with pigs, sheep and cattle and making hay/silage but don't want to get on the wrong side of the council in this respect.
    My house and land are valued at £700k even with the AOC so not much chance of ag. worker being able to afford it anyway but not interested in getting AOC lifted either as we will always farm it to some extent so it doesn't bother us.
    Do you see my dilema? AOC satisfied (i think) with continued farming as present, would like small cattery, more profit in that, which all gets ploughed back into the farm on new machinery etc. And yet may come up against council objection as cattery is not agricultural - or will that not be the case as long as AOC satified? All STPP i realise.
  • Yes, working on a cattery would not comply with the AOC, and a cattery is likely to require planning permission in its own right for a material change of use.

    Whilst there could be the argument that if your main hours are still in agriculture, and the hours spent on the cattery are mininal (and far less than the hours spent on agriculture), then you may still comply with the AOC, it's more of a thin argument, and you would need proper records of all your hours and duties. Even then, the Council could argue that the main element of your work is regarding the cattery, if that's the main source of income. It's very much assessed on a case by case basis, so there's no definitive answer, but my instinct says that having a cattery would put your compliance with the AOC in jeopardy.
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