Planning Application 19/03358/FUL - Ark Farm, New Manor House Road, High Ham.
Proposal: Stationing of a twin unit mobile home for use as a permanent agricultural workers dwelling.
The Specialist (Development Management) presented the report as detailed in the agenda, highlighting that the applicant was seeking to make the existing temporary permission for a dwelling to be permanent permission. He explained that the main issues were the principle of the permanent permission and the amount of land in ownership or occupied by the applicant, and hence viability. He highlighted the key considerations and the consequences of refusing the application regarding enforcement.
A representative for the applicant and the agent addressed members in support of the application, and some of their comments included:
· Wrong to not support farmers who lease rather than own land.
· Business and applicant were well supported by the local community.
· Applicant is young and it’s a growing the business, already negotiating leasing further land.
· The land tenanted and stock holding has increased in the last few years.
· The financial need test has been met.
· Officer recommendation is based on the applicant’s tenure of land.
· The building is essential to the business.
Ward member, Councillor Gerard Tucker, commented he was surprised that the officer recommendation was for refusal. The functional need for a dwelling had been met and he noted the business had grown by more than 30% in three years. Whilst a concern to the officer about the amount of land that was leased from multiple owners rather than owned by the applicant, he argued that it could be seen as a strength as if one owner ceased to lease some land then the business could still continue. He felt the proposal met polices and provided local employment. If refused, members would be going against Area+ principles and the Area Chapter of the Council Plan. The financial viability test had also been met and there was a need to not only look at profit but also investment and growth. He supported the application and recommended approval.
During discussion, members expressed their support for the application, and some of the comments made included:
· The applicant had made a go of the business since the temporary permission granted, Have no issue with supporting a permanent dwelling.
· Applicant has done well.
· Often little choice except to rent land nowadays as land prices have increased and owners not wanting to sell land.
· Should be supporting farmers.
It was proposed to approve the application, contrary to the officer recommendation, on the grounds of sustainability and the proposal meeting policies.
In response, the Specialist (Development Management) advised that the justification could refer to the functional and financial need having been adequately met. He also advised if members were minded to approve the application that a condition would be required for an agricultural tie.
In response to a question raised, the Legal Specialist advised that she was not aware of any changes in legislation regarding agricultural ties and she confirmed the tie for this application would be regarding agricultural occupancy. Regarding a question about a specific example of an agricultural tie elsewhere, it was agreed officers would look at the example and provide clarification to members or at the next meeting.
On being put to the vote, the proposal to approve the application was carried unanimously.
That members of Area North Committee recommend to the Chief Executive that planning application 19/03358/FUL be APPROVED, contrary to the officer recommendation, subject to the following:
It was considered that the financial test and functional needs tests were adequately demonstrated through the application and the proposal complied with Policy HG9 of the South Somerset District Local Plan
Subject to the following agricultural occupancy condition:
1. The occupation of the dwelling shall be limited to a person solely or mainly working, or last working, in the locality in agriculture or in forestry, or a widow or widower of such a person, and to any resident dependants.
(Voting: Unanimous in favour)