It is your responsibility to apply for planning permission when you need it. This makes it important to know when you need to seek permission – and when you don’t. There are often specific rules. For example, in answer to the question, “What can I build on agricultural land without permission?”
Before we get into specifics though, it’s best to have some understanding of what planning permission and “permitted developments” – the kinds of building work you can carry out without seeking permission – are and how they work:
What is planning permission?
Planning permission is the process of notifying your Local Planning Authority (usually the planning department of your local council) that you plan to build, change, and sometimes demolish a structure on land you own.
Planning permission applications can be granted or rejected. Plans accepted by some local councils might not be accepted by others. Sometimes, permission might be granted but with conditions attached.
However, there are some types of building work that you should be able to carry out without applying for planning permission. These are referred to as “permitted developments”.
What is permitted development?
Permitted developments are several classes of building work that you can perform without the need to seek planning permission. They take the form of several blanket permissions provided by central government rather than local councils.
Yet even these general permissions are not universal. You will sometimes come up against:
- Restrictions by area – some “designated areas” of the UK have restricted development rights to protect the local environment or existing character. Examples would be National Parks and World Heritage Sites.
- Article 4 directions – are exceptions that local councils can apply for if they feel a certain type of development would be detrimental to the local area. Usually, the local region would have to be a conservation area to have a direction like this.
All of the above means the best approach is to talk to your local council before you apply for planning permission – and certainly before you start any construction or demolition work.
You might also want to consider speaking to specialist planning permission solicitors to get legal advice before you start to deal with your local council.
What can I build on agricultural land without planning permission?
Permitted Development Rights allow you to erect or alter certain buildings on agricultural land without planning permission in certain circumstances. These are generally said to be when:
- Your farm is 5 hectares in size or larger
- You are intending to build, develop, extend, or convert only certain types of buildings
- You are intending to build or change forestry buildings, agricultural buildings (below a certain size), a caravan site and some related buildings, or you’re planning a temporary use of land
What structures can I build on agricultural land without permission?
Can I put a log cabin on agricultural land?
This may depend on whether you intend this cabin to be used for residential purposes for any length of time. For instance, if you want to use your log cabin to house farm workers, you will almost certainly need planning permission.
Can I put a static caravan on agricultural land?
The length of time you plan to keep a static caravan in place will probably be the deciding factor.
A permanent static caravan will most likely require planning permission. A temporary one that will not change the use of the land is likely to be allowed but may also require permission.
Can I put a touring caravan on agricultural land?
Permission for touring caravans on agricultural land is also usually tied to how long you intend to keep the caravan on the site. Long-term or permanent installation will likely need planning permission.
Can you have a smallholding on agricultural land?
A smallholding is an area of land somewhere between a garden and a farm in size (50 acres or less) that is used to grow crops or raise animals.
Because agricultural land is already designated for the purpose, you will not need planning permission to create a smallholding.
The only exception would be if you want to build any permanent structures as part of it. Those will probably require planning permission.
Can you put a shipping container on agricultural land?
A shipping container is generally allowed on agricultural land. Again though, if you intend it to be a permanent installation, it’s worth checking with a planning permission solicitor or your local council whether you need permission.
Can you put a shepherd’s hut on agricultural land?
Planning permission will probably be required for a shepherd’s hut on agricultural land. This is because it is a permanent structure and is likely to be used for essentially commercial purposes.
Is change of use permitted?
In 2015 and 2017, new rules came into place that revised existing and devised new Permitted Development Regulations for agricultural land. These may allow you to change the use of existing structures for specific purposes.
As always, the best approach is to discuss your intentions with a specialist planning permission solicitor or your local council if you want to know what you can build on agricultural land without planning permission.
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