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Some property on farmland has been restricted to Agricultural Occupancy (and have an Ag Tag) meaning they limit the use and occupation of the property to those employed in agriculture and were originally aimed at ensuring that the dwelling remains available to the wider agricultural workers community.
But the removal of an agricultural occupancy condition, or a certificate of lawfulness to regularise the non-compliance with it can increase the value of the dwelling by up to 30% so it is well worth considering.
We firstly look at what the circumstances are regarding the occupancy of the property to see if either route is appropriate for the Client.
The first route to addressing the ag-tag is by an application to the Local Authority to remove the condition from the original planning consent.
The Local Authority is only likely to remove an ‘Ag Tag’ if it can be proven that there is no need for the dwelling to be retained for agricultural workers’ occupancy.
Part of the way to prove this is to advertise the property for a period of between 8-12 months for sale at a realistic sale price. At the end of that period if there is no interest in the property it is appropriate to have an independent market assessment carried out by a surveyor, taking into account the marketing exercise to demonstrate that there is not an existing or foreseeable need for the dwelling. This feeds into a planning justification statement on why the ag-tag condition is no longer appropriate.
The second route to achieve this is by applying for a certificate of lawfulness. Sometimes ag tag properties have not been occupied by agricultural workers for over 10 years, and where this has continuously happened and the Council has not taken any enforcement action against this, a Certificate of Lawfulness can be applied for to make lawful the occupancy of the house by non-agricultural workers. This does not remove the ‘ag-tag’ condition from the original permission but makes lawful the occupancy of the house by non-agricultural workers. Robust evidence needs to be provided to the Council about the occupancy of the dwelling to evidence the non-compliance with the ag-tag occupancy condition.
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