Dangers of Diversifying… especially with Donkeys!

October 19th 2020

Donkeys in farmers field

We recently reported on the case of Mills v Estate of Partridge [2020] where the use of an access track which was for “agricultural land only” was barred when the farmer diversified to run a nursery and tearoom on the property. A recent Appeal Decision by the Planning Inspectorate (APP/W1145/X/20/3250364) has highlighted another issue for anyone with plans to diversify.

Diversification of use of land

The Planning Appeal surrounded an application for a certificate of lawful use or development. The landowners sought permission to use the land for “donkey rides being ancillary to a mixed use for agriculture and the keeping of donkeys.”

It was established that the lawful use of the land was for agriculture and the keeping of donkeys, as certified by a previous certificate of lawful use or development. The question was whether the donkey rides were ancillary to that use or constituted a material change requiring planning permission.

The Inspector held that providing donkey rides to friends on a non-paying basis was an ancillary use but that the proposed use here, on a commercial basis with rides available to the paying public, was a change in the type and scale of activity. It would increase the number of vehicles visiting the site, both from the visiting public and in transporting the donkeys to and from the site, and was a marked change from the previously private nature of the land’s use.

The Appeal was refused and the Council’s original decision not to grant the certificate of lawful use or development was upheld.

Next Steps

If you are considering diversification away from agriculture please do check with your professional team to see what may be required for that diversification to happen. Consult your land agent on the planning implications, discuss the tax position with your accountant, and always check the legal situation with your solicitor.

If you are affected by the subject of this article and would like to discuss a matter of agricultural property law with a member of our team, please contact Jennie Loynes, Associate Solcitor, at jloynes@se-solicitors.co.uk

*Disclaimer: While everything has been done to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this article, it is a general guide only. It is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought in relation to the particular facts of a given situation. The information is accurate at date of publication, 19th of October 2020 .