Scale of dairy enterprise justifies need for additional worker's dwelling

Outline permission for a key worker's dwelling at a dairy farm in east Cheshire was approved as essential to the business enterprise, despite an existing worker already living on site.

The need or otherwise for the dwelling was the main issue the inspector dealt with. The dairy farm extended to 320 acres, mostly rented. The herd comprised 270 cows producing 9,000 litres of milk per cow per year, supplying one of the large supermarket chains. The appellants lived in a farmhouse built in 2013 and subject to an agricultural worker’s condition, but they were now seeking a permanent residence for their son and his family who were currently living in a caravan on site without permission.

Firstly, the inspector held the enterprise was financially sound and had every prospect of remaining so into the future. Since 2011, the level of stock had more than doubled. He also held the business needed the equivalent of around six full-time workers. Currently, between two and four full-time workers were on the farm every day.

The council felt that as there was already a permanent worker on site, problems in terms of calving, for example, could be addressed by them in the first instance, before calling for off-site assistance where necessary. But the inspector felt that with a herd of such considerable size, it would be unreasonable to expect one worker living within the existing dwelling to deal immediately with every single problem that might arise with the herd on a 24-hour basis, every day of the year. The inspector concluded there were genuine risks to the financial viability of the enterprise by not having two full-time workers on hand all the time. His assessment was not deterred by the council’s arguments that there were available properties in villages only five minutes drive away and the business could employ more staff freeing up time for the appellant and his family to do shifts. The inspector was satisfied that it had been compellingly demonstrated that the enterprise required two workers to live on the site permanently.

Inspector: Jason Whitfield; Hearing

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