FWS Carter and Sons, the owners of Greendale Business Park, have asked East Devon District Council to reconsider two planning applications which were approved in Oct by the Development Management Committee. 17/2430/MFUL and 18/0920/FUL both being applications for Agricultural Buildings.
They are asking the Council to remove the suggested legal agreements to secure a non-alienation clause preventing their sale or letting to another party and requiring the buildings to remain in agricultural use.
The legal agreement was suggested by the District Councils Legal representative as an alternative way of ensuring that the buildings are used only for the agricultural and not converted to employment or industrial units in the future.
Councillors were concerned due to the previous history of unauthorised conversions of agricultural buildings to employment units at Hogsbrook Farm by the owners.
Since the application was agreed the owners have held meetings with the Legal Dept at EDDC claiming the legal agreements are “unnecessary and unreasonable”.
FWS Carter and Sons also consider the imposing the legal clause jeopardises the farm’s financing arrangements, restrict succession planning, prevent certain corporate organisations and unduly restricts the business in an uncertain economic climate.
The applicant is reported to have discussed the legal agreement with their bank lender to ascertain their position. The report claims the bank manager who has been a specialist agricultural lender since 1995 cannot recall a Legal 106 Agreement ever having been applied to a farm building before. The lender further noted that a S106 agreement could restrict the bank’s flexibility to enforce against its security and could reduce the value of the security. This would impact the bank’s lending on both the proposed buildings and the land.
There is a long history in relation to Agricultural units at both Greendale Business Park and now at nearby Hogsbrook Farm. There have been over 10 previous applications over a 30-year period by the applicant that due to the agricultural units not being commercially viable and therefore redundant or not being suitable they have applied for a change of use to industrial use. This has resulted in the continual growth from a farm holding to a large Business Park which is in the open countryside.
Previous attempts to curb this practice have failed following a Government Inspector overturning a previous planning refusal even when the agricultural unit had a planning condition attached to the planning approval only 10 years previously that if the agricultural use was no longer needed the unit was required to be removed.
The Planning Report states:
“The planning system has enough protection in terms of the use of the building to ensure that any new use would be assessed against planning policy, regardless of whether a section 106 was in place and it is considered that a non-alienation clause secured through a legal agreement is not now required.”
The report recommends to the Committee to support the applications without the need for a section 106 agreement.
Local Residents are concerned that the recent expansion at Hogsbrook Farm will eventually become a further Industrial Area just like Greendale Business Park did.