New Rural DwellingsObtaining planning permission for a new dwelling in the open countryside is never easy, but if certain tests are met, it is possible.

In March 2012 the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was issued. This replaced the old planning guidance and did away with much of the guidance on rural and agricultural dwellings.

The NPPF states that a new rural dwelling will be permitted where it “is essential for a rural worker to live at or near their place of work”. There is no longer any reference to the functional and financial tests which many Local Planning Authorities previous relied upon, however many still utilise the old guidance and successful applications will need to demonstrate that the enterprise can meet these functional and financial requirements.

As farms have mechanised and the use of machinery and monitored alarms has increased, it has become more and more difficult to make the case for a new dwelling, however with careful planning and the right justification it can be done.

So what do you need to show?

Firstly, you need to meet what was previously called the “Functional test”. You will need to prove that it is essential for the functioning of the enterprise to have a worker living on site. This is most commonly justified in terms of animal welfare, so where there is a suckler herd with year round calving or a free range poultry unit where close monitoring of stock is required. Other material considerations will be taken into account such as theft or vandalism, however this will need to be in addition to a genuine functional need. An analysis of the labour requirement is also needed and this is referred to as a Standard Man Day calculation.

Secondly what was known as the “financial test”. This is not directly referred to in the new NPPF, but many Local Planning Authorities still insist that an enterprise meets the test, which is that the agricultural business has been in existence for at least 3 years, profitable for at least one and capable of remaining so and the Local Planning Authority will want to see accounts to prove this.

Thirdly, that there are no suitable dwelling on the farm or available for purchase or rent in the local area and that there has not been a disposal of a suitable dwelling just to obtain a new dwelling.

Fourthly, that the dwelling is of a suitable size for the enterprise. Some local authorities will set limits the size of the dwelling, whereas others will consider the profitability of the holding and whether it can support the size of dwelling being proposed.

A successful application will also need to include a sympathetically well designed house that does not impact on neighbouring properties and has been sited so as to meet the functional needs of the holding. Other matters such as access, services and visual impact will also need to be considered.

Traditionally planning permission was only granted for agricultural, horticultural and forestry enterprises, but more recently other rural enterprises such as livery yards and farriers forges have been approved but only where it can be proven that accommodation is required on site.

For a totally new agricultural or rural enterprise where the functional and financial tests have not yet been met, then the Local Planning Authority may consider a time limited permission for a temporary dwelling until the economic viability of the enterprise can be established.

A successful application requires a robust business case to be made which will include an analysis of labour requirement, an assessment of functional need and an analysis of available accommodation in the area, together with a report confirming the viability of the business. Gateway Planning can assist with all aspects of the application for a new dwelling, so contact us for further information and advice.