Planning issues can be complex and frustrating, but many horticultural enterprises do succeed in getting permission for the buildings and polytunnels they need. The important thing is to start right.
Can I put a polytunnel or other essential structure?
Many CSAs and horticultural businesses cannot survive without certain buildings, whether to shelter volunteers and workers, store and pack produce, or to germinate and grow plants. These buildings are essential to the business and are ‘reasonably necessary’ for the purposes of agriculture. However, they are likely to need planning permission, especially if you are operating on a farm under 5 hectares (12 acres), as farmers do not have any permitted development rights to build new structures on these farms. To qualify for these permitted development rights, you also need to be an existing farming enterprise, which can be tricky to prove if you are just starting out.
Planning issues can be complex and frustrating, but many horticultural enterprises do succeed in getting permission for the buildings and polytunnels they need. The important thing is to start right. Never invest money or time in land, or start development, before speaking to the relevant local planning authority regarding planning permission. When applying for planning permission, it is important to make a case that the structure is essential to the business and why you need it.
All local planning authorities in Wales operate a written statutory pre application query process. This incurs a fee, but it is recommended before securing land for your CSA.
All development in the UK is directed towards towns and cities. Any development proposals outside settlement limits are strictly controlled. As most farms, by their very nature, are outside settlement boundaries, structures on farms are only acceptable in principle, where –
What if I put a structure up without permission?
Gaining planning permission before building anything is always best. However, if you do put up a building/structure without permission always try to be accommodating to local authority officers who may have been asked to investigate a complaint. If a use or development is found to be unauthorised, a planning application will more than likely, be invited by the local planning authority and the considerations will be the same as if it were a ‘proposed’ use or development. You may wish to seek advice from Tyfu Cymru, the Community Land Advisory Service Cymru or take professional advice from a planning consultant at this point.
If the use or development is considered to be unacceptable ‘in principle’, the farmer will be asked to regularise the situation or be faced with an enforcement notice. You can appeal the notice to the Planning Inspectorate but the enforcement notice stays on the land. It is served on the owner of the land, this means you could be in breach of any lease agreement you have entered into. Be as cooperative as possible and regularise the situation as soon as possible so that an enforcement notice is not needed.
For more guidance on Gaining Planning Permission download our toolkit: Gaining Planning Permission: Advice for food growers and CSAs (Wales Only)
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