Planning regulations are complex at the best of times and when it involves agricultural land, it can be a challenge to know what can and can’t be built there, says Alistair Millar, agricultural lawyer and Partner at Tallents Solicitors in Southwell. This can be made even more complicated as there are some exemptions which allow you to proceed with your project without applying for planning permission at all known as Permitted Development Rights.

However, before you start, we would always advise that you speak to an agricultural solicitor, the local planning authority or a planning consultant before you break ground to ensure that prior planning approval is definitely not required. Alistair offers some clarity for farmers considering agricultural development projects under Permitted Development Rights.

What are Permitted Development Rights?

Permitted Development Rights for farms - guidance from Tallents SolicitorsPermitted Development Rights (PDRs) for farms are pre-approved planning permissions for certain types of development on agricultural land, which can make the project cheaper, easier and quicker to complete.

These rights are set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015.

However, there are different classes of agricultural PDRs so it’s important to know which might apply to your agricultural project before starting any development as different conditions and limitations will apply according to the size of the agricultural unit.

What can I do without planning permission?

If the agricultural unit is at least 5 hectares or more, then PDRs are granted for the erecting, extending or altering of a building, and for excavations and engineering operations, for example creating hard surfacing for field access and farm tracks. More limited rights are available to smaller units of at least 0.4 hectare.

In simple terms, development:

  • must be on land in use for agriculture for the purposes of a trade or business;
  • must be reasonably necessary for the purposes of agriculture;
  • must not give rise to, or alter or extend a dwelling;
  • must not be within 25 meters of the metalled part of a trunk or classified road;
  • must not exceed 12 meters in height;
  • must not exceed 465 square meters in ground area.

Although PDRs are designed to make an agricultural project easier to achieve, there are considerations to be taken into account before starting any works, as not adhering to the guidelines will mean that planning permission will not be deemed to have been granted and may incur an unlimited fine. If the PDR is withdrawn, then retrospective planning permission will need to be applied for.

Using certain PDRs may also restrict the use of other PDRs for some time, so it is worth taking long term plans and goals into consideration early on in the planning stage.

Using Permitted Development Rights

Understanding the procedures regarding Permitted Development Rights can be complicated, so our professional advice, before spending any money on building works, is not to assume that you have the right to build or develop on your land but instead to submit details of the proposed development to the local authority. Your proposal should include as much information as you can, including the agricultural justification for the project.

At Tallents Solicitors we have been advising farmers and landowners on their agricultural projects for over 245 years and our agricultural experts are here to help you. Call 01636 813411 to set up a confidential appointment.