Obligation tying farmhouse to land lifted

A reporter discharged a planning objection preventing the sale of a farmhouse in central Scotland separately from the farm and restricting its occupation to an agricultural worker after hearing that it was impeding the raising of finance for the project.

The council refused to remove the planning obligation because the sale of the house separately from the farm could result in a continual requirement for a replacement farm manager’s house, which would be detrimental to the character of the countryside. The council also submitted that the original approval of the house was based on an explanation of why the previous farmhouse had been sold separately.

The reporter noted that in the section of Circular 3/2012 dealing with obligations imposing restrictions on the use of land or buildings, paragraph 51 stated that where a case for development had been satisfactorily made, it should not be necessary to use a planning obligation to restrict occupancy or use. Accordingly, he identified a situation where development plan policy pointed to the retention of the planning obligation, but government policy stated that it should not be necessary to use a planning obligation as a formal mechanism to restrict occupancy or use once a need had been satisfactorily established.

The reporter noted that a convincing agricultural justification had been made for the house, that the site was reasonably unobtrusive in the countryside, and that Scottish planning policy gave general support to rural communities while protecting environmental quality. Given the effort that had been made to secure funding for the new house and the impediment that this was causing to the future development of the farming enterprise, he concluded that the combination of these factors was sufficient to justify lifting the planning restrictions on the use of the house.

Reporter Richard Hickman; Written representations

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