Getting Planning Permission for Non Development Land

How to get Planning Permission for Non Development Land in the whole of the UK.

green fields building

In the strive for sustainability we are all looking to live a more eco friendly lifestyle, and non development land could provide the solution to the problems associated with traditional housing in average communities.

Currently in the UK there is a great disparity between the costs of agricultural land (£4,000-£10,000 per acre) and land which has planning permission (£200,000+ per acre). Despite the government’s constant reinforcement of the importance of altering our lifestyles to become more environmentally responsible, it is still rather difficult to settle into self-sufficiency.

Non Development Land: Is it worth the risk?

Now and again we hear a story of someone who has managed through a lot of trouble to create their own eco community. This is often by buying non development land, moving onto it without getting planning permission, and living in teepees, yurts, caravans, or cabins, engaging in years of battle with the local planning officials in order to finally win retrospective planning permission. Planning permission, however, will often come with conditions such as those attached to Ben Law‘s home, which he also uses to run a woodland business.

The 10 and 4 Year Rules

 In the UK, there are rules that apply to non development land which state that if you life in a caravan for 10 years or in a building for 4 years, without being noticed, then the dwelling becomes lawful and you may apply for a ‘certificate of lawfulness’. Of course, this strategy depends largely upon very supportive neighbours and the nerves to cope with living with 4 to 10 years of uncertainty. Even if you are not reported until the last minute you may still be served a notice of enforcement and made to leave. Nonetheless, people have successfully pursued this route and there are doubtless more doing so now.

A Safer Option: DIY Farms and Smallholdings

Another method of building on non-development land is to first buy your desired piece of agricultural land and to submit an agricultural prior notice consent form to your local planning office. This details the agricultural building you intend to build on your land, and is the building won’t require planning permission. Consent should be given within 28 days, after which you may begin to build.

Whilst the barn or other agricultural building is being built, you may place a temporary mobile home on the land whilst you build the barn and set up the business. The temporary accommodation can remain where it is for five years, assuming you continue to build the farm, during which time you must generate as much income as possible.

Following this 5 year period, you may submit a planning application for a house. You will need to prove that you must live on-site to run the business and that the business generates enough income to support you.

Find out here about the additional options in Scotland and Wales.

Image: Steve Hillebrand

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