Commercial rearing of working sheep dogs does not fall within the definition of agriculture

The Government attaches great importance to green belts and the fundamental aim of green belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl. Pressure on the green belt continues to be a media favourite and some recent cases show that Government policy can require the courts to clarify which development proposals should obtain planning permission and in what circumstances. In this example, planning permission was refused for the construction of a commercial kennel for the breeding and rearing of working sheep dogs in the green belt.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government in their National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) state that inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the green belt and should not be approved except in very limited circumstances. The appellant in this case argued that the kennel was a building for agricultural use, meaning it wouldn’t be inappropriate development in the green belt and fell under one of the exemptions listed in the NPPF.

However, the definition of agriculture provided in the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA 1990) includes the breeding and keeping of livestock (including any creature kept for the production of food, wool, skins or fur, or for the purpose of farming of land). While the inspector accepted that working sheep dogs are used in connection with livestock farming, they are not livestock and are not kept to produce any of the listed commodities. Therefore, the proposed commercial kennel was not a building for the purposes of agriculture and constituted an inappropriate development in the green belt.

No special circumstances existed to justify the proposal, and the potential harm to the green belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, needs to be clearly outweighed by other considerations. The Court of Appeal considered the provisions of the NPPF and held that the development was inappropriate as it did not fall within one of a number of limited exceptions.

For further information, please contact Frank Smith & Co Solicitors on 01242 801748 or www.franksmithandco.com

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