Q Is horticulture agriculture?

A It depends.

Readers working in the rural area will be aware that agriculture, as defined in s336 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, includes horticulture. Nevertheless, an inspector has issued a certificate of lawfulness for the occupation of an agricultural dwelling in Cornwall in breach of the occupancy condition, finding that the appellant’s occupation as a gardener did not comply with its terms (DCS Number 200-005-591).

The appellant was a self-employed gardener, maintaining domestic gardens. About 80 per cent of his work was lawn mowing, the rest was trimming hedges, pruning fruit trees and tending flower and vegetable beds. The council considered that his occupation as a gardener meant that he did comply with the condition. The definition of horticulture adopted by the Chartered Institute of Horticulture (CIH) included garden tending or maintenance, and the appellant’s occupation as a domestic garden maintenance worker clearly fell within the CIH definition of a Professional Horticulturist.

The inspector reasoned, however, that the CIH definitions relied upon by the council were very widely cast. For example, activities such as garden design, plant conservation and horticultural therapy were included. It would not be sensible in his view to consider all workers carrying out such activities to be agricultural workers. Noting that the definition of agriculture in the 1990 Act is concerned with the use of land for production, rather than, for example, recreation, sport or domestic gardening, the term ‘horticulture’ must be limited accordingly, he held. He also noted that the appellant’s business did not provide for the needs of agriculture, nor was there any need for it to be located in a rural area. Put simply, it was not the type of employment that the exception to planning restraint in the countryside was intended to cater for, he decided. As the appellant had lived in the farm dwelling in breach of the condition for over ten years it was immune from enforcement, the inspector concluded.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 9.334

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