An appeal concerning the removal of an agricultural occupancy condition from a farm bungalow in Kent (DCS Number 200-005-719) has articulated a nagging doubt held here on the DCP Blog about a certain aspect of planning practice.
The retired farmer claimed that following the loss of rented land, changes in farming practices and the flooding of fields adjacent to a river, there was no longer any cause for the occupation of the property to be restricted to a farm worker. Moreover, he wished, in due course, to have the option of passing on his home to his non-farming family who would not comply with the occupancy condition.
The appellant accepted that he had not marketed the bungalow. He did not wish to move and felt that to undertake such an exercise would be to do so under false pretences. The inspector, however, determined that in the absence of such a ‘market-testing’ process it was impossible for her to assess whether or not there was a demand for an agricultural worker’s property of the size and likely value in the area. Consequently, she decided that it would be premature to remove the occupancy restriction.
Another example of market testing being required in order to prove lack of demand is where the removal of a holiday letting condition is proposed. Where holiday occupancy of a property has been low its owners might decide that it is no longer viable to keep cleaning, maintenance and letting services in place, and would therefore not be in a position to accept bookings. Nevertheless, they are required to advertise the property for holiday use. Readers will no doubt be able to think of other examples.
Should the planning system be insisting on the marketing of property under what might be, as the old farmer articulated, false pretences? What do readers think?
The following DCP section is relevant: 9.334