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Occupancy Condition

We previously secured a planning consent for a Perthshire farmer for a new farmhouse. A condition of the consent required the house to be occupied by someone employed in agriculture in the local area.

Such conditions are common on planning consents for new farmhouses. An often used alternative is a planning obligation (Section 75 agreement), restricting the ownership of the property to an agricultural worker.

In this case, the planning condition was restricting the landowner's ability to raise finance against the property, finance which was required for further investment in the farm. CKD Galbraith was therefore commissioned to review the planning condition and seeks its removal.

The removal or modification of planning conditions is possible where the planning authority can be convinced the original consent would be acceptable without the relevant condition in place. Therefore a comprehensive argument is required to show the condition is not required.

In this case we were able to present an argument that the farm house in question was acceptable in planning terms without an occupancy condition, due mainly to changes to the surrounding area as a result of new buildings. In other cases, it may be that changes in the running of a farm or even personal circumstances can prove sufficient to argue for the removal of a condition.

While this case involved the removal of a planning condition rather than a Section 75 obligation, many of the same issues apply in both cases. Where a condition or obligation is restricting the use of a property, it is worth investigating its removal. 

The possibility of achieving this has been boosted by two recent developments

First, a recent change to planning legislation allow applicants to appeal to the Scottish Government if an application for removal of a Section 75 obligation is refused by the local planning authority. 

In addition, the Scottish Government recently highlighted to local planning authorities their desire to see occupancy conditions restricted in most cases. This of course adds weight to any argument for the removal of an occupancy condition or obligation.

The removal of a condition or obligation can greatly increase the options available to an agricultural property owner. CKD Galbraith are experienced in assessing these options, and are happy to advise as requested.