The existence of an agricultural tie or similar restriction on who may live in a particular home has implications for a potential property owner of which their residential conveyancing solicitor should make them aware.
Anyone looking for an unspoilt home in a quiet part of the countryside may find an empty house in an ideal situation but the dream of moving in could be spoilt by the existence of a planning condition preventing them from doing so.
Planning authorities in rural areas, where there is dependence on workers being available nearby to tend livestock, have increasingly set rules on who may live in houses allocated for employees. This form of social engineering is designed to maintain traditional occupations and retain suitable reasonably-priced homes where young people can settle and earn a living.
A so-called ‘agricultural tie’ is a condition set when a house is built or re-built in a position which would not be allowed for any other reason, for example, if it is in a prominent site within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty beyond the boundaries of an existing settlement.
A farmer who needs to have a worker, or himself, available 24 hours a day to look after animals can be granted permission in those circumstances but, even if the farm goes out of business and the use of the house ceases, it can be difficult to change the designation of the house to enable anyone without a farming connection to buy the property.
These planning rules have been in use since the Second World War and their continued enforcement depends on a variety of factors.
There is the political dimension, both locally and nationally, where decisions on rural development may depend on the interpretation of planning and economic policies which can change, over time, becoming either more or less restrictive.
Second home owners
With the high cost of homes in many of the most attractive rural areas of Britain, some councils are keen to encourage people with direct links to a community to be able to live there and discourage ‘outsiders’ or second home owners from buying properties at prices which are higher than they might be because of the desirability of the setting.
Farming itself has changed drastically in the last half century with far fewer people in the UK employed directly on the land in producing food. Greater diversification into other rural industries has seen workers taking on less-traditional roles but still wishing to be near their place of employment.
Depending on the geographical location of the farm its land may be incorporated into a neighbour’s holding to create an agri-business, leaving redundant habitable buildings, but it will be up to the local planning authority to decide whether to maintain an agricultural worker clause attached to the houses.
There can be other situations where the owner and resident of a home is restricted by a planning measure, such as where security is important for a business and someone needs to live on site or regular maintenance is required to a facility in an isolated area.
If a potential buyer comes across a house or building suitable for conversion to a home, which is bound by caveats on residence, this will be established by their solicitor through standard local authority searches, then a decision will have to be made whether to attempt to have the restrictions removed or to abandon ideas of buying.
There is a formal process for seeking a change of use of planning, first by application to the local authority then, if necessary, through the independent appeals procedure. This is likely to take some months before a final decision is made and purchasers need to factor this into their estimates of how much time and money will be involved.
Although individuals are entitled to make their own representations to a planning authority, in a complicated case, they will stand a better chance of success if they have suitable professional expertise to support them including the services of an experienced property lawyer
Advice from Healys’ solicitors of London and Brighton
If you are thinking of buying a property or land where there may be an issue concerning planning or restrictions on who may live on the premises, whether in a city such as London, Brighton’s coastal areas or in the countryside, Healys’ team of experienced residential conveyancing solicitors is ready to help.
Not only do all Healys’ staff have a helpful attitude in achieving the best result for their clients, with links to other skilled professionals across its general legal practice, it can provide advice and representation on all aspects of property law.
For more information and advice on costs of Healys’ conveyancing services, you can request a call-back via the website, email partner Kiri Kkoshi, telephone 020 7822 4148 or associate solicitor Darina Gowen telephone01273 669 115.