A farm business in the Surrey green belt has succeeded in gaining permission for a barn to be used in association with lavender production on the holding, although it will not be able to realise its hopes of making soap (DCS Number 200-004-725).
Appeals against the refusal of planning permission for a partially completed barn on the site and an enforcement notice requiring its removal had been dismissed previously. That inspector had concluded that the production of soap was a manufacturing process but that the production of lavender oil was ancillary to the agricultural use of lavender growing, by reference to a decision in Millington v SSETR . He commented that whilst a relatively niche activity it was not dissimilar to the process required to produce wine, cider or apple juice and considered that it could be regarded as falling within ‘ordinary and reasonable’ agricultural practice. Accordingly, he had concluded that the use of the building would be a mixed use for agriculture and ancillary purposes (including lavender production) and also the production of soap.
The appellant now sought permission for retention of part of the barn instead. The current inspector recognised that removal of the element of soap production had led to a commensurate reduction in the size and scale of the building. The proposed building would now be used for the existing agricultural needs of the farm together with the needs of the growing of lavender and the production of lavender oil, he determined. This time, the inspector allowed the appeal, concluding that the proposal was not inappropriate development in the green belt.
This is an interesting albeit unusual case because as the inspector indicates there are a number of other types of produce and processes which might be analogous.
The following DCP chapter is relevant: 22.1135