It seems a long time ago now since the khohaibok beginning of our agricultural planning journey.
It was November 2006 when I first contacted NewLandOwner for advice. We were in the throes of buying 15 acres of pasture in Rutland. The site had the added benefit of a very large barn. We had no experience of landowning and certainly none of the planning process. After speaking to NewLandOwner, about our plot for planning potential they said we had bought well (more by luck than judgement I think though) and advised that to obtain planning consent for a residential dwelling in the countryside we needed to be running a profitable agricultural business of some kind. And so the long process began of deciding not only what we wanted to do but how we were going to achieve I found on the internet, we arranged for them to visit us to assess it. Please don’t buy some land and mistakenly think you can put a mobile home on it with the hope that by keeping a few animals you will be able to get planning permission to live there. Unfortunately it’s not as straight forward as that. You really do have to want to work in the countryside and run a successful business. Just wanting to “live the good life” is not enough. Other than the fact that I had always had horses, we had no previous experience of keeping livestock so I enrolled on one of NewLandOwners “Getting Started in Smallholding” weekend courses. This gave us an insight into pig breeding, keeping chickens, cattle and sheep along with land management, horticulture and the legal requirements related to keeping livestock. I think one of the most important things is to do what you enjoy and the course helped us decide what areas we would like to start with. The next step was to find a Planning Consultant. Don’t underestimate how difficult it can be to obtain planning in the countryside so you definitely need professional help. Unfortunately, this help can come at some considerable cost and the longer you have to fight with the council the larger the bills get, but I’m convinced that without professional advice we would not have succeeded. My advice is don’t skimp in this area otherwise it could cost you more in the long run. Neil took a back seat here and I took on the role of “planner” dealing with the consultants and doing lots of research. To be honest I had no idea what I was about to get into but concluded that things were not going to run smoothly, after all if it was easy everyone would be at it. I telephoned and visited several planning consultants before finding and using Heaton Planning Consultants. In the meantime we have bought our first 50 laying hens and four rare breed pigs. We had bought animal housing and had a local man erect some fencing for the pigs. These weaners were to be the start of our pig breeding business. Two were boars to fatten and kill and two gilts to keep as breeding stock. This was the beginning of our Business Plan which had been put together by Rob and Dave at NewLandOwner. As Rob and Dave are both “Old Timers” (I’m sure they won’t mind me saying so) they have a vast experience of all things farming having been farmers all their lives. This was one of the main reasons for choosing to work with them. No better people, I thought, to write an agricultural business plan than someone who is in the know. Anyone can put figures down on paper but what is also needed is a practical understanding of what is really involved and what is actually feasible, and as in our case they needed to be able to argue their reasoning both in writing to the council and at the appeal hearing. We worked closely together put forward a business plan that was not only workable for us but that fitted with our potential planning application. All businesses and planning applications are individual but have the same goal, to be successful. Spencer and Jenna at Heaton Planning then did an assessment report to determine the likelihood of our application being successful. There are never any guarantees but what they were looking for was to establish the policy principles of obtaining planning permission. All local planning authorities have to follow the guidance issued by Government but the interpretation can be very different from one authority to the next.