A five-bedroomed bungalow set in open countryside near Swansea - complete with a conservatory and a Jacuzzi - can only be lived in by a farm worker after the Upper Tribunal refused to lift an agricultural occupancy condition.
The owners of the property had argued that its character and that of the surrounding farm had changed so dramatically since its construction in 1986 that the condition was 'obsolete'. They submitted that the existence of the condition reduces the market value of the property very substantially.
However, the Upper Tribunal dismissed their application to lift the condition, ruling that ‘sufficiently rigorous’ steps had not been taken to test the market to see if there is demand for the bungalow with the condition attached.
The property started life as a modest bungalow in 1986 when planning permission was granted subject to the condition that it could only be occupied by persons solely or mainly employed in agriculture locally.
However, since planning permission for an extension was granted in 2002, the bungalow has doubled in size into a 4/5 bedroom property, with a garage, kitchen, various reception and utility rooms, a conservatory and a Jacuzzi.
The owners presented evidence that, were it not burdened by the condition, the bungalow could be worth £450,000. However, with the condition in place, attempts to advertise it for sale had brought no interest from prospective buyers even at a price of £275,000.
They also pointed out that, since 1986, four other dwellings have been developed on the farm, by conversion of farm buildings, none of which are subject to agricultural occupancy conditions.
However, refusing to lift the condition, the tribunal observed that the City and County of Swansea had objected to the move, acting as ‘a custodian of the public interest’, and the property had yet to be advertised in the specialist farming press.