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Government urged to consider retirement homes for farmers

Words: Laura Edgar
NPPF should consider retirement homes for farmers / Farmhouse

England’s planning policy on homes for farmers ready to retire needs to catch up with the rest of the devolved nations in the UK before changes as a result of Brexit take effect, according to the CLA.

The representative for 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses in England and Wales said the planning systems in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland recognise that being able to build a new rural home can be “crucial” in helping a farmer to retire and bring young people into farming.

For the CLA, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) “still does not”.

According to its latest report, Homes for Retiring Farmers, current policy “seeks to restrict building in the countryside, which hampers farming families who may need to build an additional home to make space for the next generation to take over the business”.

Research, notes the report, has suggested that Brexit and any changes it may bring to the agricultural sector may be the catalyst for many farmers to retire, with 38 per cent of members undertaking succession planning in preparation for Britain leaving the European Union.

Passing the farm on is a “critical” stage in the business, and it can be “both financially and emotionally” difficult, the CLA. Having somewhere to move into on site enables the farmer to provide advice and support.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is currently undertaking a review of the NPPF, which is due in draft in spring.

The CLA recommends that an addition to paragraph 55 of the NPPF would be “the most sensible step” to have national policy recognise the important role housing can play in assisting succession in the agriculture sector.

Currently, paragraph 55 states that to promote sustainable development in rural areas, “housing should be located where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities”. Local planning authorities are advised to avoid new isolated homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances.

Here, the CLA, want it to say when a farmer is retiring from farming or dies, an application for planning permission for a new dwelling “may be afforded favourable consideration in order to facilitate the orderly transfer of the farm and to enable the farmer, or the surviving partner of the farmer, to continue to live on that land”.

Mark Bridgeman, president of the CLA, said: ““England is the only country in the United Kingdom that does not recognise in its planning system that a home on the farm for the retiring farmer to move into can really ease this process while also allowing the retired farmer to continue to provide advice and support.

“We can expect that the changes Brexit will bring to the agricultural sector may be the catalyst for many farmers to retire. Now is the right time to change the National Planning Policy Framework to encourage local authorities to grant permission for this type and purpose of rural development.”

Homes for Retiring Farmers can be found on the CLA website (pdf).

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