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  • Harshinder Hundal

The "Clarkson's Clause": Empowering Farmers with Expanded Development Rights

Second Hand Fashion

Leading on from my post about the diversification of agricultural land and farms the recent introduction of the so-called "Clarkson's Clause" has brought about significant changes in the realm of Permitted Development Rights for farmers across England.  Inspired by Jeremy Clarkson's well-documented struggles with local authorities over his Diddly Squat Farm, as depicted in the hit Amazon Prime series "Clarkson's Farm," and the impending General Election the government has taken decisive action to empower farmers and facilitate the diversification of their businesses.

In this article Harshinder Hundal, Head of Commercial Property at FG Solicitors looks at the key changes and implications.

The "Clarkson's Clause" encompasses several key changes to Permitted Development Rights, granting farmers greater flexibility and autonomy in repurposing their agricultural buildings and land. Here are the notable highlights:

1.      Conversion of Agricultural Buildings:

Farmers can now convert disused agricultural buildings into multiple residential units or commercial spaces without the need for full planning permission. The previous limit of five residential units has been doubled to ten, allowing for more substantial conversions.

2.      Commercial Use Expansion:

The range of permitted commercial uses for converted agricultural buildings has been broadened, now including general industrial, storage and distribution, hotels, and outdoor sports and recreation facilities. The maximum floor area for such conversions for commercial use has also increased from 500 square meters to 1,000 square meters.

3.      Land Conversion:

Farmers can now convert land associated with agricultural buildings into training centres and outdoor sporting facilities without the need for planning applications.

4.      Building Extensions:

Previously prohibited, modest extensions to agricultural buildings are now permitted, enhancing the potential for repurposing these structures.

5.      Relaxed Use Restrictions:

The requirement for agricultural buildings to have been solely used for agricultural purposes has been relaxed, allowing for conversions even if the buildings were partially used for domestic storage or other non-agricultural activities.

Streamlining Bureaucracy and Fostering Rural Development

The primary objective behind these changes is to reduce bureaucratic hurdles and empower farmers to make more efficient use of their resources. By cutting through "needless bureaucracy," as stated by Farming Minister Mark Spencer, the government aims to support farmers in diversifying their businesses and securing their futures.

Lee Rowley, the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Building Safety, emphasised the importance of these changes, stating, "Farmers are the lifeblood of communities, and these changes give them the freedom to grow their businesses and plan for their futures."

Oversight with Safeguards

While the "Clarkson's Clause" grants farmers greater autonomy, it does not entirely eliminate oversight. Prior approval from local planning authorities will still be required for specific issues such as transport, flooding, and design considerations. This approach aims to strike a balance between facilitating rural development and addressing potential impacts on local communities.

As the government continues to refine its policies, the "Clarkson's Clause" demonstrates the influence of public debate and the recognition of the challenges faced by the agricultural community.  By empowering farmers with expanded development rights, this initiative paves the way for a more vibrant and sustainable rural economy.

 If you are considering a new project FG Solicitors can assist you in the planning and delivery of such a project, contact Harshinder Hundal at FG Solicitors today on 0808 172 93 22 or complete our quick contact form for a no obligation discussion!

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This update is for general guidance only and advice should be taken in relation to a particular set of circumstances.


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