The Local Plan for the Broads: Issues and Options Consultation
24. Agriculture development
Agriculture is a key land use in the Broads and is important to the local economy. Indeed, we tend to receive a number of applications each year for development relating to agriculture that does not fall within the scope of Agricultural Permitted Development rights. The adopted Local Plan has policies relating to rural enterprise dwellings (DM38) and business and farm diversification (DM27). Currently, other types of agriculture development would be assessed against various policies in the Local Plan; we wonder if there is a need for a policy that helps guide agriculture development.
Policy DM1 of the current Local Plan relates to development that can impact on the Broads – Major Development. It says ‘for the purposes of this policy, ‘major development’ is defined in this Local Plan as development which has the potential to have a significant adverse impact on the Broads and its special qualities due to the development’s nature, scale and setting’.
With agriculture-related development often being at a large scale, it may have an impact on the special qualities of the Broads. On the other hand, agricultural development in some ways typifies the character and appearance of parts of the Broads. Subject to sympathetic siting and design considerations, this type of development can be less visually intrusive than a similar footprint of commercial or residential development. Agricultural development tends not to be exceptional; they tend to be standard buildings. Arguably, agricultural development may pass the tests in DM1 and the NPPF, such as being in the public interest and this being the exceptional circumstance. However, perhaps the Local Plan needs a policy specific to agricultural buildings to ensure the assessment is as clear and comprehensive as possible while still allowing for sustainable development.
Other potential issues include:
- After a few years in place, there may be pressure to convert the agricultural buildings into another use. While the conversion options through PD regulations are limited in the Broads Authority Executive area, is there a need to prove a longer-term financial case for the building?
- There are areas of intensive farming in the Broads, and the point at which an application is made for new development at a farm might be an opportunity to address issues with an existing site. The development itself may seek to address these issues, but would this be an opportunity to seek wider biodiversity/social etc benefits?
- Is there scope for agricultural development to aid in the production of low carbon/ renewable energy?
- Some agriculture related applications result in new tracks/bridges. Is there scope for these to be open for the public to use?
- Another issue to consider is run off from farms into water courses.
It therefore seems there is potential for a new policy to cover particular aspects relating to agricultural development in the Broads that also links to the two existing farming related polices of rural enterprise dwellings and business and farm diversification.
- No specific policy. Use existing policies to guide and determine applications for agricultural development.
- A new development management policy, specifically on agricultural buildings which would cover design, longevity of use, landscaping and environmental considerations as well as the justification for development and potential benefits through contributions/access/biodiversity/flood improvements.