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Countryside Stewardship opportunities for 2016 confirmed

Details of the shape of the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme which will replace the current environmental and woodland grant schemes under the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy have been announced by DEFRA.

“Countryside Stewardship will have a higher, mid and lower tier” says Jenny Cox, rural surveyor at Stags. “The options will be similar to some of those under current environmental schemes to include hedgerow management, low input pasture and wildflower plots or whole crop cereals on arable land. Agreements will still be on a 5 year basis.”

“However, the scheme is designed to be more stringent than the Environmental Stewardship we have become used to, with the higher tier reserved for high environmental importance sites such as SSSIs, and the mid tier options being targeted geographically to address particular environmental objectives in particular areas”. 

“The low tier scheme is the only ‘catch all’ element. This offers capital grants for things such as hedge restoration and producing woodland management plans amongst other things” says Jenny. 

“Finally, as part of the new scheme there will also be a separate capital grant fund available specifically for water management projects and woodland creation, including another round of Catchment Sensitive Farming for those in priority catchments”.

To discuss the new rules or for more information please contact Stags Professional Services on 01823 653424 or email: professional@stags.co.uk

 Farm buildings to dwellings...West Country Seminars

A number of very successful of seminars were held by Stags Professional Services across the South West, focusing on the recent changes to the Permitted Development Rights. These changes allow the conversion of agricultural buildings to dwellings, which proved a very popular topic.

For details of Stags’ future events and seminars please contact Stags on 01392 439046 or email: professional@stags.co.uk to be put in touch with your local member of Stags’ Professional Services Department in Devon, Somerset, Dorset or Cornwall. For those wishing for advice on their individual situation please contact your local Stags office or the above number and this can be arranged.


Stags provide a regional round up of Local Authority reaction to the new 'Permitted Development' rights to convert farm buildings into houses

The Order allowing farmers to convert their sheds to houses under Permitted Development Rights came into force on 6th April 2014 enabling the creation of up to three new dwellings within existing farm buildings of up to 450m2 without the need for a formal application for full planning permission.

“We are now seeing a number of decisions from Local Planning Authorities and it has become evident that, within the South West, the chances of success are hugely dependent on the interpretive whim of the local council” says Martin Lee, head of Stags Planning department.  With legislation so new there are few precedents against which applications can be judged.  We have seen very different approaches from each of the South West authorities, often justified on their part by a lack of reasoned appeal decisions”.

“Stags view is that many decisions of refusal are likely to be overturned by appeal and we advise potential applicants not to give up at the first hurdle. As appeal decisions become more common, the playing field between local authorities should level out” adds Martin Lee.

Members of Stags Professional Services division report as follows:

Mark Neason from the east of the region says that “Taunton Deane, East Devon and North Devon District Councils are refusing most Prior Notifications and requests for Prior Approval on the basis that they should not be permitting the development of new dwellings in ‘unsustainable locations’ (i.e. not within or very close to established settlements), additionally Taunton Deane are not permitting the conversion of open-sided/frame Dutch barn type structures because they claim that the building works necessary to create a dwelling go beyond the definition of conversion.”

Jo Maynard of Stags Launceston Office states “Cornwall Council appear to be responding to these submissions by saying full planning permission is required on a variety of grounds but sustainability seems to be common theme. To date only one application has been approved across the county. Once some appeal cases are taken forward hopefully this stance will shift”.

If you require further information on planning or any other professional matter, please contact Stags on:

01392 439046 (professional@stags.co.uk) for Devon/Somerset/Dorset, or

01566 771808 for Cornwall (professional.launceston@stags.co.uk)

 Compensation due to you?

Stags have had a busy few months calculating compensation payments for clients, where utility companies have accessed land to repair, install, re-route, upgrade or replace apparatus, such as electricity and telegraph poles and cables, or water pipes.  

But according to Jo Maynard of Stags Professional Services, many landowners don’t realise that they can submit compensation claims for their losses.  And not all landowners know that they can engage the services of a land agent to prepare and submit the claim with the utility company meeting the agent’s reasonable fees (i.e. no cost to the landowner).

“Often when utility companies take entry onto land, damage can occur to the property.  This can range from wheel ruts caused by machinery and vehicles,  to compaction and crop loss, to fences left loose when reinstated along a hedge line” comments Jo.  

Stags regularly submit claims, ensuring that the landowner receives a fair payment.  “Photographs taken prior to entry are helpful, but not essential” says Jo “and logging any incidents that occur during the work programme can also assist in making a thorough claim, which are often significantly higher than the utility company may at first offer”.

The Stags team can also provide advice and assistance on ensuring wayleave agreements are in place and up-to-date, or discuss and calculate capitalising the annual wayleave payments into a useful lump sum. 

Should you require any assistance with any type of compensation claim or utility matter, please contact Jo Maynard on 01566 771808,  or Mark Neason on 01823 662822 or email professional.launceston@stags.co.uk



Stags success in removing “Agricultural ties” continues

Already this year Andrew Ranson of Stags Launceston Office has successfully managed to lift three Agricultural Occupancy Conditions (AOCs) in Cornwall and West Devon. This is on the back of him lifting AOCs for clients across the region over the last 12 months, including the successful removal of a ‘tie’ in the Torridge District, where the client had previously been turned down after applying with another local agent.

What is an Agricultural Tie?

It is a planning condition placed, by the Council, upon the planning permission of a house built in the open countryside where development would not normally have been permitted. The ‘tie’ seeks to restrict occupancy of the dwelling to those employed, or last employed in agriculture. The reduction of labour on farms has meant that more cottages and farmhouses have become surplus to their original agricultural need, particularly throughout the South West.

Removing Agricultural Occupancy Conditions

Removing AOCs gives greater flexibility to the occupancy, management and disposal of a property, says Mr Ranson of Stags, and can regularly increase the property's value significantly.

In order to remove an AOC, a property can be marketed for sale, at a price that reflects the ‘tie’ in order to demonstrate that there is no demand for such a restricted property. Each of the three local authorities to Launceston have different criteria for how long the marketing should be carried out for.

Given the complex nature of this area of planning, the reluctance of some local authorities to lift occupancy conditions and the potential increase in value of the property, it is important that owners seek professional advice.

Stags have a team of rural planning specialists across the region with an excellent proven track record at lifting both Agricultural and Holiday Occupancy Conditions, as well as obtaining numerous other planning consents. Stags expanding planning team are delighted to welcome Alister King Smith, a very experienced Chartered Town and Country Planning Consultant, For advice on any rural planning matter please call 01566 771808.