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Farmers Weekly’s Business Clinic experts offer free advice on legal, finance, tax, insurance, farm management and land issues.

Here Rosalyn Trotman, planning solicitor at Thrings – offers guidance on how one might go about changing the planning permission for a holiday let into a residential use permission.

Q. Six years ago I received planning permission to convert a redundant pig shed to three holiday lets. However, it included a restriction that they could only be let for a maximum of 28 days to the same person.

We are nearing completion of the holiday lets but are worried about the level of demand and the safety of children on a working farm.  Is it possible to change the use from holiday lets to short-term residential letting? If so, how do I go about this?

It is not unusual for local authorities to impose this sort of restriction. We regularly see others including the requirement to keep records of occupants and disclose those on request of the local authority (LA), also seasonal occupancy conditions limiting the use as holiday let to certain times of the year.

Rosalyn Trotman, planning solicitor, Thrings

These are designed to prevent permanent residential use (including short-term tenancies) because such a use may be contrary to local or national planning policies.

Frequently owners of holiday lets successfully apply for such restrictions to be removed.

If the restrictions were imposed by conditions, then an application can be made to the LA to vary or remove a condition – called an application under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the 1990 Act”).

See also: Can I get an agricultural tie removed on a small farm?

If the restrictions were imposed by obligations contained in an agreement made under section 106 of the 1990 Act, then you will need to apply to the LA to modify or discharge the obligation/s (called an application under section 106A of the 1990 Act).

This option is available to applicants who entered into the obligation more than five years ago (unless otherwise stated).

For holiday let obligations entered into less than five years ago, you can still ask the LA to change an obligation, but this is not a formal application process recognised by the 1990 Act and it will not attract the same appeal opportunity if refused.

In some cases a full planning application may be needed, depending on the wording of the original planning permission.

Seeking pre-application advice from your LA for a small fee can be very worthwhile in such scenarios as it can give you an idea of which application you will need to make for your particular case and whether the planning permission is likely to be granted, while avoiding the costs of a full application.

The LA will consider your application by applying local and national planning policies and taking into account any other material considerations.

An example of a material consideration is deficiencies in social facilities such as education or health facilities which are more likely to be relied upon by those occupying a property as their primary accommodation in comparison with holiday lets.

There is an appeal process for those who are refused permission, but we recommend you seek advice from a planning consultant or solicitor before taking this route.

If a holiday let restriction is not complied with, then the LA may take enforcement action to stop the breach.  Breaches of planning can acquire immunity from enforcement from long use.

The relevant period is four years, with the burden on the applicant to provide sufficient evidence of the breach to the LA in a Certificate of Lawful Use/Development application.

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