The Council recently disagreed with a planning inspector about the reason for a lack of interest in purchasing a large four-bedroomed chalet bungalow with an agricultural occupancy condition (ag tag). Following an appeal, the ag tag was removed - a notoriously difficult achievement.

What is an ag tag?

Planning permission is often granted subject to conditions. These regulate the manner of the development and tackle specific problems.

A local planning authority may be asked to allow the development of a house for an agricultural or forestry worker on a site where residential development would not normally be permitted (for example, within the green belt). Here, planning permission may be granted subject to an ag tag, a condition which restricts the occupation of the dwelling to agricultural or forestry workers and their families. This will reduce the market value of the property.

The Case

In 1981, planning permission was granted within the green belt in Bristol for the erection of an agricultural worker’s dwelling and garage, subject to a number of conditions including an ag tag.

The ag tag was imposed because the site was not in an area intended for general development and permission was granted solely because the dwelling was required to house a person employed in agriculture or forestry.

Then in 2016, a section 73 application to remove the ag tag. However, South Gloucestershire Council refused the application. An appeal was made.

The marketing report showed that the property (a large four-bedroomed chalet bungalow with nine acres of surrounding land) had been marketed for over twelve months with no offers made. The asking price was £1.1million. The ag tag was referred to in the sale particulars, but still the majority of interest had come from individuals or businesses whom did not satisfy the ag tag criteria.

The Council permits the removal of an ag tag only where it can be demonstrated there is no existing or foreseeable need for a rural workers’ dwelling on the original unit or locality, and there has been an independent market assessment following an unsuccessful attempt to market the property at a realistic price. In this case, these were satisfied. The Council accepted that the property was likely to be too expensive and therefore out of reach for most rural workers.

The inspector had to consider whether the ag tag was reasonable and necessary, having regard to national and development plan policy, the marketing evidence and the need for rural workers’ dwellings in the area.

The inspector decided a lack of interest was more likely to reflect a lack of demand or need for this type of dwelling than as a result of the inflated price or low level of discount applied. In view of this, the inspector was satisfied that the condition was no longer reasonable or necessary and its removal would not conflict with the council’s policies. 

The appeal was allowed and the ag tag removed.

How we can help you

Based in leafy Altrincham, Myerson’s property team have been proudly serving the agricultural community of Cheshire and the North West of England for 30 years. We act for a wide range of agricultural clients, including farming businesses and partnerships, rural family estates and smallholders serving both their commercial, family and personal matters. Please call 0161 941 4000 to speak to one of our solicitors or email Lawyers@Myerson.co.uk for any queries you may have.

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