When people talk about removing an Ag Tie they often get confused between regularisation and removal. They are actually two very different methods of dealing with an Ag Tie with a couple of fundamental differences.
Under section 191 of the Town and Country Planning Act it is possible to apply for a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use when a planning condition has been breached continuously for a period in excess of 10 years. If the certificate is granted the Local Planning Authority confirms that the breach of condition can lawfully continue to occur without enforcement action being issued. This is known as Regularising an Ag Tie. So, for example where an Ag Tied property has been occupied for 10 + years by someone who is not employed in agriculture, then provided this occupation has been continuous and can be proven, then a Certificate can be obtained. This Certificate passes with the property so if it is sold there is no requirement for future occupiers to be employed in agriculture. HOWEVER, and this is the important point, it does not remove the condition, the property is still subject to an Ag Tie, it has just been confirmed that the Tie is currently unenforceable. This is all fine, until you realise that the Ag Tie can be reactivated. If at any point the Local Planning Authority consider that the occupier is complying with the terms of the condition i.e. is employed in agriculture, then the Tie will be reactivated.
To guarantee that the Ag Tie has been removed and cannot be reactivated you need to remove it. There are two ways to do this:
The most commonly known way is to apply to the Council under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act to have the condition deleted. To successfully argue this you need to prove that there is no longer a need for an agricultural dwelling on the holding, that there is no need in the local area and there is no use for the property as affordable housing. This normally requires the property to be marketed at a price which reflects the presence of the Ag Tie for a period of up to 12 months, a local needs assessment and contact to be made with the Local Housing Associations to assess if there is any demand for affordable housing. If it can be proven that there is no need and there are no offers made for the property from qualifying occupiers, then an application can be made to remove the condition. If successful the Ag Tie is permanently removed and there is no risk of it being reactivated.
The alternative method to deal with the Ag Tie is to analyse the original planning permission. If it can be proven that the original planning permission was not implemented correctly, then it can be argued that the Ag Tie was never applied in the first place. This method can work when there is still a significant acreage with the property and when the occupier is still actively employed in agriculture and does not require the property to be offered for sale. Again with this method there is no risk of the Ag Tie being reactivated.
So if you are looking to remove an Ag Tie be sure you know what you want to achieve – removal or regularisation and be wary if you are told you can remove an Ag Tie once it has been breached for a period of 10 years.