Council refuses bid to lift agricultural occupancy restriction on March house - even though farm workers no longer live there

PUBLISHED: 17:36 16 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:36 16 August 2018

Aerial shot of Marshall House on Wisbech Road, Westry. Picture: Google Earth

Aerial shot of Marshall House on Wisbech Road, Westry. Picture: Google Earth

Google Earth

A house built in 1962 exclusively for farm workers but no longer required cannot be used for any other purpose, a council has ruled.

Aerial shot of Marshall House on Wisbech Road, Westry. Picture: Google EarthAerial shot of Marshall House on Wisbech Road, Westry. Picture: Google Earth

Fenland District Council refused an application by Messrs N and S Morton to lift the agricultural occupancy on New Marshall House, Wisbech Road, Westry, even though the owners admit it has been let to others over the years.

The council says that the fact that the house has been occupied in breach of the agricultural occupancy condition is not sufficient grounds to lift it.

A council report says that in essence the owners have sought to prove “that the property has been occupied in breach of the condition for a set period of time.

“Ultimately, if proven, this evidence only results in an acceptance that the occupation of the dwelling has not historically been in compliance with the condition and therefore not fulfilling any agricultural need”

The report emphasises a house for a farm worker does not necessarily need land to go with it.

“If an agricultural worker working on a local farm or other agricultural industry in the local area needs to live locally, the dwelling would still supply an agricultural need,” says the council report.

“The loss of surrounding agricultural land around the property therefore does not nullify the condition. The condition implies the building is essential in the interests of agriculture, not the surrounding land.”

The report says it is for the owners to provide sufficient proof for the council be satisfied that there is no local need for the house.

Planning officers say a previous attempt – in 1983 – to have the condition removed also failed because at the time it was contrary to Cambridgeshire Structure Plan policies.

Although Fenland Council accepts the house is now divorced from the land which was once connected to it, the owners had not followed the rules needed to get the occupancy restriction lifted.

The council says they need to prove there is no longer a requirement for it to be used by farm workers and the evidence would normally show marketing of it for a period of time and at a price to reflect the agricultural occupancy restriction and to demonstrate there is no demand for it.

Fenland Council say the Mortons need to show there has been a lack of interest through a properly conducted market exercise.

“At the moment this evidence has not been provided,” it concludes.

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