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Farmer's caravans are unsightly

We’re hosting our daughter’s wedding in our garden next month, but a neighbouring strawberry farmer has put up six static caravans on his land for seasonal workers. The caravans overlook our garden and are, quite frankly, old, unsightly and not in keeping with the area. Is there anything we can do to have them removed or moved to a different part of his farm?

Planning permission is generally required where there is any development on land or any material change in the use of any buildings or land. However, under permitted development rights, certain developments are deemed to have been granted planning permission. 

Under these permitted development rights there is a specific exemption that allows farmers to put caravans on agricultural land to accommodate seasonal workers. The workers must be employed in farming operations on land in the same occupation.  The use must be discontinued when the season is at an end and all caravans on the site should be removed as soon as reasonably practicable.  

That said, it is worth checking with your local authority as to whether there is any supplemental planning guidance or restrictions for your area. 

So that’s it for the summer then?

Not necessarily. If you are on good terms with your neighbour it is always worth an initial conversation to see if an amicable solution can be reached. A polite request may well see them moved. If this is not possible, you can contact your local planning authority and inform them of the situation and your concerns. If these steps do not work you may unfortunately have to put up with these caravans until the end of the season.

What happens if the caravans are not removed at the end of the season?

If the caravans remain in situ after the end of the season, the farmer will likely have difficulty relying on permitted development rights. This means that if he wishes to retain the caravans he will likely need to apply for planning permission. The local authority has the power to imply certain conditions when granting planning permission and all factors will be taken into consideration including any relevant objections and for example, whether there is a more suitable area on the land for the caravans to be located. They also have the power to issue an enforcement notice for the removal of the caravans, if appropriate. 

This article first appeared in the Financial Times on 13 July 2018.

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