Traditional agricultural planning restriction could be overruled on rural Fenland home

PUBLISHED: 08:30 27 August 2020 | UPDATED: 08:30 27 August 2020

Highfield Lodge in Doddington Road, Chatteris, has an agricultural occupancy planning condition dating back to 1950. The current homowners, who have lived at the property for more than 10 years, have applied for a certificate of lawful use to overrule the condition. Pictures: Fenland District Council planning portal.

Highfield Lodge in Doddington Road, Chatteris, has an agricultural occupancy planning condition dating back to 1950. The current homowners, who have lived at the property for more than 10 years, have applied for a certificate of lawful use to overrule the condition. Pictures: Fenland District Council planning portal.

Archant

A traditional planning condition that only allows ‘members of the agricultural population’ to live in a rural Fenland home could be overruled if planners approve an application for lawful use.

The planning application for Highfield Lodge, in Doddington Road, Chatteris was approved in 1950 with an agricultural occupancy restriction which meant only those with connections to the sector were able to live there.

Brian Morely, and his wife Julie, the current owners, have been in breach of that condition since they first moved into the property in August 2001 - and have applied for a certificate which will allow anyone to live in the three-bedroom property.

Ian Smith, director of planning at Cheffins in Cambridge, the couple’s agent, argues in a covering letter submitted with the application that they are immune from any enforceable action because they have lived at the property for more than 10 years.

He added: “It is also of note that the condition [...] does not refer to employment in agriculture but to the occupier being a ‘member of the agricultural population’.

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“There is no definition of the ‘agricultural population’ or indeed what qualifies someone as being a ‘member’ of it. The condition is therefore vague and non-specific.”

He added: “The condition also required that a permitted house be built by such a member of the agricultural population too.”

While Mr and Mrs Morely run an equestrian-themed business repairing and maintaining horseboxes and keep horses on their property, their livelihood didn’t fall within the traditional definition of ‘agriculture’ in the Town and Country Planning Act 1947.

Mr Smith concluded: “This application includes satisfactory evidence that which establishes that, on the balance of probability, for 10 or more years prior to the date of this application, the property has been continuously occupied by persons who are not ‘members of the agricultural population’.

“This condition has never been complied with by the Morley’s since they first purchased the property in August 2001.”

He added: “It is not at all clear on what basis any party would or could comply with such a vague and non-specific condition.”

The application was validated by Fenland District Council planners on August 18.


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