Development Control Casebook: In depth - Farmhouse approved in principle subject to agreement conclusion

Despite accepting arguments advanced for the owner of a farm in the Dorset area of outstanding natural beauty, an inspector has concluded that he cannot permit a new dwelling on the land until a satisfactory legal agreement is submitted.

The farm originally had two agricultural workers' cottages but these had been sold off, leaving the holding with no residential accommodation. However, one cottage was owned jointly by the appellant and his son, who worked on the farm. The council sought a legal obligation to ensure that the proposed dwelling was tied to the holding. It also insisted that the cottage occupied by the appellant's son should be tied to the land to prevent proliferation of dwellings in the countryside.

The council's request would require the son and family to vacate the cottage if he were to take alternative employment, fall ill or die, the appellant maintained. Forcing his son or his family out of the property would be excessive and unfair, he contended. As an alternative, he proposed that the cottage should be counted as being available to the farm for the purposes of calculating the number of dwellings available for key workers, with only the new farmhouse being tied to the holding.

The council had agreed that the disputed cottage could be severed from the farm in 1993, the inspector noted. In addition, it was partly owned by the son's wife, who had no direct interest in the holding. While agreeing that proliferation was a serious issue, he decided that the risk was likely to be limited in this case. The new dwelling would replace a mobile home, the farm was well run and profitable and a nearby village offered potential to house key workers should the need arise in future, he remarked.

On this basis, he held that there was no reason to tie the original cottage to the farm. That said, while the appellant had circulated a draft planning agreement, this had not been signed. Consequently, he ruled, permission could not be granted because of the risk that a condition would not ultimately be sufficient to prevent the property from being severed from the holding.

DCS Number 100-069-773

Inspector David Saul; Hearing

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