Lifting occupancy conditions takes time

More farmers are seeking to lift agricultural occupancy conditions on farm houses and cottages as technology continues to shrink the farm workforce.

Agricultural ties can reduce a property’s value by 30-40%, according to Strutt & Parker, although they are still valuable in gaining planning for new farm dwellings which might not otherwise be allowed.

The terms of ties vary but generally require that the occupant must be primarily employed in agriculture or forestry. Lifting the conditions means full market value can be achieved when the property is sold.

Strutt & Parker has been involved in more than 20 cases across the north of England in recent years where the original need for a tie no longer exists.

“This is particularly true when smallholdings become unviable, land is severed from the house or a tied farm cottage becomes surplus to requirements and the farmer wishes to release the equity,” said Tobias Burckhardt, of the firm’s Harrogate office.

However, lifting a tie is not an easy or quick process, said Mr Burckhardt, who expects one case he is currently dealing with will take about 18 months.

“The property normally has to be marketed for about eight months to demonstrate there is no longer any local farming need and that the condition is now obsolete. Planning authorities are understandably wary if the marketing campaigns are not sufficiently vigorous or properly conducted.”

There are also inheritance and capital gains tax implications so the correct timing of applications was important too, he added.

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