2 April 1999

Change law to stop farm evictions…

SOME planning applications are no more than a cover to allow landlords to evict tenants and the law should be changed to curb the practice, says Derbyshire farmer Allan Radford.

The number of applications being made by landowners in green belt land for leisure pursuits is climbing, says Mr Radford, who rents 40ha (100 acres) at Draycott House Farm, near Derby. But not all successful applications are implemented, he adds.

Sham applications

"I believe these are sham applications which allow the landlord to put the land into set-aside, or a farm business tenancy, probably securing more revenue, and also the freehold."

To stop this happening, applicants should have to sign a commitment to proceed, says Mr Radford, whose own tenancy is threatened by a golf course.

Intense lobbying of officials, including his MP, county, district and parish councillors paid off when the planning committee overturned initial approval for the plan. But his landlord can still appeal, he adds.

Not unusual

This type of case is not unusual, says George Dunn of the Tenant Farmers Association. Environmental schemes, which are likely to increase under Agenda 2000, pose the biggest threat, he believes. "The golf course market is reaching saturation point. But there are signs that landlords are looking at other schemes to get the freehold back."

The government recently announced that landlords would no longer be able to claim Woodland Grant Scheme payments where a tenancy was terminated using a contested Notice to Quit. The TFA wants to see this extended to other schemes.