Can You Build On Agricultural Land?

Can You Build On Agricultural Land?

Can You Build On Agricultural Land?

Yes, Properties like churches, utilities, schools, and other public facilities are often allowed to be built on agricultural land. However, regulations typically restrict building houses or other private structures on agricultural land without special approval. This is to preserve the land for farming activities.

Some key things to know about building on agricultural land:

  • Zoning laws regulate what can be built. Agricultural zones usually prohibit residential buildings but allow agricultural structures like barns. Getting rezoned for other uses like residential can be difficult.
  • Size matters. In some areas, small hobby farms under a certain acreage may not qualify as true “agricultural” land with the same building exemptions. Larger parcels are more likely to allow agricultural structures without permits.
  • Permitting is usually required for any new construction, even ag buildings. Requirements vary by location. Some areas allow small sheds or other basic structures without permits. But almost anything beyond that will need approval.
  • Special exceptions can sometimes be obtained, for instance by demonstrating the building is essential for agricultural operations on the land. But there is no guarantee of approval.
  • Subdividing agricultural land into smaller parcels can complicate development by subjecting it to more stringent building codes and zoning rules.
  • Financing and insurance may be difficult for any structures built without proper permits on agriculturally zoned land.

Overall the general rule is agricultural land is intended for farming, not building residences or commercial facilities. Some agricultural structures can be erected but residential buildings typically require rezoning the land first.

What Can I Build On Agricultural Land Without Planning Permission?

The key is that the structures must be for legitimate agricultural purposes on qualifying agricultural land. Minor utility buildings are sometimes permitted, but residential and commercial uses are much more restricted without zoning approval first.

When in doubt, contact your local planning office.

Here are some key things you can build on agricultural land without planning permission in many areas:

  • Agricultural structures like barns, stables, silos, greenhouses etc, as long as they are for agricultural purposes on the land. Size limits may apply.
  • Temporary structures like polytunnels and movable chicken coops. These are often exempt from permit requirements.
  • Small outbuildings like garden sheds and workshops under a certain square footage, often around 10 x 8 ft or so.
  • Agricultural roads, ponds, reservoirs, drainage systems and other earthworks associated with farming the land.
  • Small campsites or caravan sites that are limited to 28 day stays.
  • Repairs, maintenance, and minor alterations to existing permitted structures and buildings.

However, there are some important caveats:

  • The agricultural land must meet minimum size requirements, often 2-5 acres. Smaller hobby farms may not qualify.
  • Residential buildings like houses and permanent mobile homes almost always require approval and planning permission first.
  • Larger structures above size thresholds will still need agricultural building permits and planning permission.
  • Business uses like stores, restaurants, offices require permission even on agricultural land.
  • Rules vary significantly by location, so check local ordinances for specifics. Don’t assume something is allowed.

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