Policy RUR 3: Agricultural and forestry workers dwellings
- Under LPS Policy PG 6 'Open countryside', development that is essential for the purposes of agriculture and forestry will be permitted in the open countryside. Proposals for essential rural workers dwellings in the open countryside to support agricultural and forestry enterprises will be only be permitted where they accord with other policies in the development plan and:
- it can be clearly demonstrated that there is an existing functional need for an additional worker to live permanently at the site;
- the existing functional need relates to a full-time worker in their primary employment as an essential rural worker; and could not be fulfilled by any other existing accommodation on the site or in the area, which is suitable and available;
- the size and siting of the dwellings is strictly commensurate with the existing functional need;
- the new dwelling is tied to the agricultural or forestry enterprise under which it operates, through planning condition and/or legal obligation;
- the proposals make best use of existing infrastructure, such as existing utilities and vehicular access; the dwelling is well-related to existing buildings; and does not form isolated or scattered development;
- do not unacceptably affect the amenity and character of the surrounding area or landscape (including visual impacts, design and appearance), either on its own or cumulatively with other developments; and
- provide appropriate landscaping and screening.
- The functional need will only exist if it is essential for the proper agricultural or forestry functioning of the enterprise for one or more workers to be readily available at most times of the day and night. The functional need must not relate to:
- the personal preferences or personal circumstances of the individuals involved; or
- the functioning of any part of the enterprise that is not strictly agricultural or forestry-based.
- Permitted development rights for new agricultural and forestry workers dwellings will be removed to make sure that the size of the dwelling remains commensurate to the functional need of the business.
- Subject to the other requirements of this policy, proposals for permanent essential rural workers dwellings will be supported where the agricultural or forestry enterprise has been established on the site for at least three years; is currently financially sound; has a good prospect of remaining so; makes a profit and is capable of sustaining the full time essential worker in the long term. Where the dwelling is essential to support a newly established enterprise (whether on an established or a newly-created agricultural or forestry unit), temporary permission for up to three years will be granted subject to the other requirements of this policy. In such circumstances, the temporary dwelling should be provided by a caravan or other temporary structure, which can be easily dismantled and removed from the site.
6.11 In the open countryside, LPS Policy PG 6 'Open countryside' allows for development that is essential for the purposes of agriculture and forestry but it restricts new dwellings to limited infilling in villages; the infill of a small gap in an otherwise built-up frontage elsewhere; rural exceptions affordable housing; and dwellings that are exceptional in design and sustainable development terms. To support the rural economy, it is recognised that some agricultural and forestry business may have a functional need for workers to live on the site.
6.12 New permanent farm workers accommodation cannot be justified on agricultural grounds unless the farming enterprise is economically viable, and a financial test will be necessary to evidence this, and the size of the dwelling that the unit can sustain.
6.13 A functional need may include situations where the provision of an additional dwelling is essential for the continued viability of a farming business through the farm succession process.
6.14 Restrictive occupancy conditions will be applied to agricultural and forestry workers dwellings allowed under this policy. As set out in the policy, planning conditions and/or legal obligations will tie dwellings to the enterprise under which they operate.
6.15 Larger dwellings will be more expensive from the outset and the restrictive occupancy condition could be undermined if the dwelling is outside of the range of property affordable by the local workforce. The size of the dwelling must be strictly commensurate to the functional need and where additional rooms or space are proposed (such as a farm office, meeting room, additional utility rooms, boot rooms or shower rooms) then a proportionate justification setting out the need for this additional space should be provided, alongside evidence that the additional space could not be reasonably accommodated in existing buildings on the farm holding.
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