An Ag Tie, Agricultural Occupancy Condition (AOC) or Ag Tag is a planning condition applied when planning permission is granted for a new dwelling in the open countryside. Whilst the most common planning conditions restrict what you can do on a site or require you to get specific approval for certain aspects of the development, such as the external render colour or window design, an Ag Tie specifies who can occupy the property once it is built.
Ag Ties have been placed on properties since the Town and Country Planning Act came into force in 1948 and over the years the wording has changed and evolved. The very earliest conditions were generally drafted by the Local Planning Authority and often required the occupier to be employed in agriculture without specifying the requirement to be solely or mainly, and as a result they were often easier to comply with. It was also not uncommon to see older Ag Ties that are specific to a certain person, farm or even field.
Over the years the wording has been standardised and now the most commonly used version, as defined by Circular 11/95 “Use of Conditions in Planning Permission” is:
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
The planning condition requires the occupants of the property to comply with the wording of the condition, so in the above case to be solely or mainly or last working in agriculture or forestry.
Agriculture is well defined in the Town and Country Planning Act, so the occupier must be solely or mainly working or last working in horticulture, fruit growing, seed growing, dairy farming, the breeding and keeping of livestock, the use of land as grazing land, meadow land, osier land, market gardens or nursery grounds.
Although Agriculture is well defined the other terms within the condition are less so and we have to rely on ever changing Case Law to determine how they should be interpreted. We will look at these definitions in more detail in further blogs.