Farm proposal rejected after applicant found not to be a livestock breeder

An applicant who was not a registered livestock breeder could not sanction an ‘extended’ agricultural store to be used as a sheep farm and a dairy processing unit

At issue was a planning application to sanction an ‘extended’ agricultural store to be used as a sheep farm and a dairy processing unit. Applicant’s site consists of a field located outside the development zone of Siggiewi.

The Planning Commission agreed with the Planning Directorate and went on to refuse permission on the following grounds:

A swimming pool was found on site. For this reason, applicant’s genuine intentions were being questioned;

1.    There was no record to show that the premises were ever used for agricultural purposes;

2.    The applicant was not a registered livestock breeder;

3.    The size of the proposed ancillary facilities in relation to the size of the proposed livestock holding was not justified. Consequently, the proposal was not considered to be essential to the genuine needs of agriculture (Rural Objective 3 of the Strategic Plan for Environment & Development (SPED));

4.    The height of the boundary walls was deemed excessive, ‘hindering the country views;

5.    The site was developed ‘with little respect to the rural context’ employing ‘extensive hard paving in beaten earth and concrete flooring resulting in unjustified soil sealing’;

6.    The proposal was incompatible with Rural Objectives 1.7 and 4.3(a), which seek to control the cumulative effect of rural development and protect sensitive landscapes of cultural importance and natural beauty;

7.    The proposed waste management facilities were not endorsed by the Department of Agriculture.

Notwithstanding the said objections, applicant decided to appeal the decision before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the permit should have been issued. In his appeal, applicant (now appellant) described his proposal as being ‘ideally located’. In addition, appellant argued that he had ‘a right to rear sheep over the property’. Applicant concluded by stating that the waste Management Plan demonstrated his genuine intentions.

In reply the Authority reiterated its earlier stance. The case officer warned that the proposal was in breach of a multitude of policies and regulations, also underlining that the illegal interventions were carried out after 1988. The Tribunal was further reminded that the illegal interventions included an extensive paved area measuring circa 700 square metres, which led to ‘unnecessary soil sealing’.

The case officer rebutted applicant’s arguments by saying that ‘the preparation of a Waste Management Plan on its own could not be considered enough proof of the genuine intention of the applicant for a sheep farm.’

In its decision, the Tribunal asserted that applicant was not a registered livestock breeder. It was further observed that the Agricultural Advisory Committee had objected to the proposal. Against this background, the Tribunal felt that this was reason enough to reject the appeal.