Waveney Local Plan

Rural Workers Dwellings in the Countryside

8.45 The accommodation needs of rural workers employed full-time in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and other rural businesses can usually be met in existing properties either on the site or in nearby settlements. Occasionally it is essential for a worker to be in close proximity to the business, for example, where animal or agricultural processes require essential care at short notice, or where there is a need to deal with emergencies that could otherwise cause serious loss of crops or produce. The lack of available properties in the countryside can therefore occasionally necessitate the need for a new dwelling to serve this purpose.

8.46 Policy WLP8.8 allows for the development of a new dwelling in the Countryside for rural workers where it is essential for them to be in close proximity to their business. However, to avoid the proliferation of isolated dwellings in the Countryside the policy sets strict tests to ensure the dwelling is actually needed, the business is viable and there is no other suitable accommodation available which could serve the business.

8.47 Applications will be assessed taking account of the history of the enterprise. Evidence will need to demonstrate whether there are existing dwellings within the site/holding or nearby which could fulfil the need. If any dwellings or buildings on the holding suitable for conversion have been sold on the open housing market this is likely to constitute lack of evidence of essential need. To assess whether the existing business is viable, financial information from the last three years prior to the planning application will be required which show that the business was profitable for at least one of those years.

8.48 Where planning permission is granted for a rural worker dwelling, occupancy restriction conditions will be imposed to ensure the dwelling is used for that purpose and remains available for that purpose in the future. To avoid new isolated market housing in the countryside, which is contrary to the policy contained within the National Planning Policy Framework, proposals to remove occupancy restriction conditions will rarely be approved. Where applications are made for the removal of an occupancy condition, evidence will be required to demonstrate that there is no longer a need for the accommodation for either the business or for the wider local area. Evidence of marketing should be provided, following the guidelines in Appendix 6. In addition to this, the dwelling should be made available to a minimum of three registered social landlords on terms which would prioritise its occupation by a rural worker as an affordable dwelling. 

Policy WLP8.8 - Rural Workers Dwellings in the Countryside

Proposals for permanent dwellings in the Countryside for rural workers where they are to support an existing and viable rural business will only be permitted where:

  • There is a clearly established functional need and this could not be fulfilled by another existing dwelling or accommodation in the area which is suitable and available for the occupied workers or could be converted to do so;
  • The need relates to a full time worker, or one who is primarily employed in the rural sector, and does not relate to a part-time requirement;
  • The unit and the agricultural activity concerned has been established for at least three years, has been profitable for at least one of them and is financially sound and has a clear prospect of remaining so;
  • The proposed dwelling is sensitively designed, landscaped and located to fit in with its surroundings and of a scale that reflects its functional role to support the agricultural activity.

Where a rural dwelling is permitted, the occupancy will be restricted by condition to ensure that it is occupied by a person, or persons, currently or last employed in local rural employment. Applications for the removal of an occupancy condition related to rural works will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that:

  • There is no longer a need for accommodation on the holding/business and in the local area;
  • The property has been marketed to ensure proper coverage within the appropriate sector for at least one year at a price which reflects the existence of the occupancy condition; and
  • The dwelling has been made available to a minimum of three Registered Local Landlords operating locally on terms that would prioritise its occupation by a rural worker as an affordable dwelling and that option has been refused.