Agenda item

32/22/0004 Application for Outline Planning with all matters reserved, except for access, for the erection of 1 No. agricultural workers dwelling on land to the South East of Home Farm, Breach Hill, Sampford Arundel


The Planning Officer outlined the application to the Committee with the assistance of a presentation.


The key points were:


·       This is an outline application with the access only for consideration.  Appearance, landscaping, layout and scale are not under consideration at this stage. 

·       The proposed development uses existing access from the main driveway, goes around existing agricultural buildings and then joins back up to the development site. 

·       There is a proposal for an orchard between the existing Farm House and the proposed new agricultural workers dwelling to protect the amenity of each dwelling.  The proposed orchard is not for consideration as part of this planning application and overlooking and loss of amenity would be considered at the design stage of the dwelling at reserve matters should this application gain consent.

·       The proposal is that the new dwelling would be sited adjacent to the existing dwelling.  This would then make it adjacent to the settlement boundary of the village and the existing farm complex. 

·       The site is in the countryside in an unsustainable location and therefore needs to fully compliment Policy 1a which assesses new permanent agricultural workers dwellings.

·       The proposed dwelling would be required for a full time worker employed by the business which is considered to be financially acceptable.  Figures show 9.38 full time employees are required to service the existing business. 

·       There is no other dwelling associated with the holding. 

·       The applicant’s vets submitted two letters, the first submitted as part of the application stating it would be wise to have 1 preferably 2 experienced workers situated on site at Home Farm.  The second letter confirmed it is essential rather than wise.

·       The access to be used by the proposed dwelling and highway conditions would be used to secure parking provision, use of garages and electric vehicle charging points.

·       Policy H1a relates to permanent housing for rural workers.   Point d states ‘the functional need could not be fulfilled by another existing dwelling on the unit, or any other existing accommodation in the local area which is suitable and available for occupation’. 

·       In this case the justification for criteria d) is 10-15 minute drive time.  That is the search area for the local area.  An alternative accommodation assessment was submitted by the agent which showed two 2 bedroom dwellings with parking all within the 10-15 minutes drive time.

·       A further update for committee was an additional reason for refusal relating to phosphates and the fact that insufficient information had been submitted to satisfy the Local Planning Authority that the ecology impacts from the development have been sufficiently taken into account and, as such substantial mitigation measures have not been provided’.


The Planning Officer set out that the recommendation was to refuse the application on the grounds of:

1.      The proposed development does not accord with policy H1a of the Site Allocations and Development Management Plan as there is other suitable accommodation available within a 10-15 minute drive time.

2.     The proposed development has failed to successfully address the matter of phosphates.


There were three public speakers for this application.


The Committee was addressed by Mr Piers Pepperell, Director at Mount Vets, speaking in support of the application. His comments included:


·       That he had been a veterinary surgeon and member of the Royal College of Veterinarians for 25 years and a farm vet for over 20 years.

·       He had worked with the Tucker family for the majority of his working life and their focus is on animal welfare and sustainable growth.

·       Home Farm has now grown to the size where an onsite herd manager is essential to maintain the standards of welfare needed for the stock. 

·       The herd consists of about 300 Holstein dairy cows which calve all year round so important to have someone on hand to ensure the animal welfare and safety on site 365 days a year.  Home Farm also has a sheep flock and 200-300 beef animals.

·       The need to be within the locality to hear and assist any animals in distress or difficulty, with the proposed location for the development being perfect for this

·       The new dwelling is required to maintain the welfare and management for these animals.  Being up to 15 minutes away is unacceptable for the welfare of the animals.


The Committee was addressed by Cllr Mrs Janet Lloyd, Chair of Sampford Arundel Parish Council, speaking in support of the application. Her comments included:


·       Although deemed to be in open countryside Home Farm is adjacent to the centre of the village settlement of Sampford Arundel, which is a village not a hamlet as described in the officer’s report. 

·       The site of the proposed dwelling is completely within curtilage of the farm. 

·       This successful business is the only remaining milking farm in the village. 

·       Home Farm is the second largest employer in the village employing seven staff and is a major contributor to the economy of the area. 

·       Home Farm has a herd of 220 milking cows and they calve all year round to produce the next generation of cows and more milk.  Support and encouragement should be given to local farmers to produce food and milk and reduce food miles.

·       I implore you to go against the officer’s recommendation and approve this application which includes an agricultural workers dwelling at Home Farm for the reasons including the functional need to have a herd person on site constantly.


The Committee was addressed by Mr Sam Tucker, Applicant, speaking in support of the application. His comments included:


·       Home Farm is 650 acres in size and has 200 plus milking cows and 500 cattle in total as well as 180 sheep.

·       Work full time on the farm for 10 years, manage the dairy herd and look after the rest of the farm as well. 

·       The cows have to be milked twice a day, fed and bedded up and they have to be checked day and night when they are calving.  On average there is a calf born every other day but sometimes there can be upwards of four born a day, and it mainly happens at night.

·       If the cows require assistance, it’s a two person job and have to keep checking on them so it would be impractical to travel 10-15 minutes back and forwards. 

·       It’s vital to live on the farm to manage the herd and ensure their welfare

·       Permission has been granted on other farms including one down the road which has a third less animals.


Discussion took place around:


·       The need for the Committee to make decisions according to policy

·       The rationale behind the criteria in policy H1a and whether it was anticipated that the farm worker would be able to afford to buy accommodation nearby or whether the farm owner would buy the property.

·       Whether the farmer could live in the existing Farm House

·       Phosphates – whether there was a justifiable reason to refuse on this ground at this stage and whether phosphates mitigation could be part of the full planning application when that came forward

·       Whether planning trees could be used to offset the phosphates issue

·       Policy does not allow unrestricted building in the countryside – there has to be an agricultural tie to the farm. 

·       Having a database of properties in the local area that have an agricultural tie would be useful

·       Whether advice from the Vet would count as professional advice.  Officers confirmed that the Committee should certainly take account of comments made by public speakers and pay particular attention if the speaker is professionally qualified.

·       Whether the application should be deferred to enable a phosphate solution to come forward.

·       Whether the application is compliant with Policy H1a due to the fundamental need for the agricultural worker to be onsite for the welfare of the animals and not living 10—15 minutes away. 

·       The fact that every application has to be considered in accordance with the development plan.  All 5 criteria have to be passed in terms of policy H1A.

·       The fact that evidence shows that there is suitable and available alternative accommodation within 10-15 minute drive. 

·       What suitable and available actually meant.  Whether the alternative accommodation is suitable for supporting the livestock business given the advice from the Vet.  Whether the alternative accommodation is available given property and rentals are under pressure in the area, and the fact that it might be available online but might not be available to the farm worker.

·       That Planning Policies need to be updated to reflect the challenges faced by farmers

·       The functional need in respect of Policy H1a in this case is very particular and established and cannot be fulfilled living up to 15 minutes drive away from the farm.  Good animal husbandry requires that you have someone on site all the time to look after the calves. 

·       The reduction in carbon impact of driving less if they are based on site

·       Whether the Council policies would be considered as out of date as per section 11 of the National Planning Policy Framework section in favour of application unless adverse impacts. 

·       Whether the application should be approved with conditions including a phosphates solution.


The Committee RESOLVED that planning application 32/22/0004 is delegated to officers to approve the application on the grounds that the committee is satisfied that there is a functional need for an agricultural dwelling on this site in the particular circumstances of this case.   Subject to a suitable phosphate mitigation solution being secured via a S106 agreement and planning conditions to be delegated to officers in consultation with the chair/ vice chair of Planning Committee West. 


Proposed by Cllr Norman Cavill; seconded by Cllr Steven Pugsley


On being put to the vote the proposal was carried by 8 votes in favour, 2 votes against and 1 abstention.


Following the vote a Councillor advised that another Local Planning Authority had included a succession farm dwelling policy within its adopted Local Plan and suggested that this should be considered when the Somerset Council Local Plan is produced.



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