Planning is relevant to almost every fishery and water related business in the country. It is an area where, in the past, there has been ambiguity and sometimes lack of clear planning policies. Almost every fishery visited by Fenn Wright has some form of planning history and, in particular, it can be lack of planning permission for an existing use which can cause problems when a property is put on the market.
A significant proportion of fisheries where dwellings have been built are subject to occupancy conditions. The wording of these occupancy conditions varies enormously. Some are effectively agricultural ties and others are versions of standard agricultural tie wording. Some dwellings are subject to the former Section 52 Agreements and now Section 106 with more relevant and specific wording relating to the business.
The relevance of the wording can have an effect on the value of a property and we are regularly advising clients in respect of planning applications for dwellings.
Obtaining planning permission for a dwelling is not straight forward and with the recent changes in the planning legislation it is down to the local authorities to interpret the current policy in relation to planning permission for dwellings in the countryside.
The majority of local authorities recognise that holiday accommodation is important to the local economy and tourism. Many fisheries have obtained planning permission for either change of use to existing buildings, static caravan or, more commonly, holiday log cabins which come in a range of specifications. Again, similar to residential dwellings, the occupancy conditions can vary from region to region and the more restrictive the wording the greater effect on value and, in many cases, harder to adhere to the condition.
Many fisheries have established 5CL sites which are successful and often there is a demand for greater capacity in terms of pitches. In the last few years it has been noticeable that there have been more successful planning applications on fisheries for touring caravan sites which are less capital intensive than developing holiday accommodation in the form of, say, log cabins.
The days of fisheries have no facility buildings are almost long gone. The minimum requirements for a commercial fishery are to provide a toilet block, in particular, with disabled access. Many are often supplemented with showers especially where there is overnight fishing. Other buildings commonly found on fisheries are some form of café, retail tackle shop, storage buildings and, in some cases, classrooms for educational purposes. All these buildings require planning permission however, in areas with designations such as an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) planning policies are more restrictive and permissions can be harder to achieve.
New Building “Fishery”
There are very few sites where a fishery can be constructed from a Greenfield site, either due to potential planning restrictions or simply on economic grounds.
The cost of agricultural land in England ranges between £5,000 - £10,000 per acre and smaller parcels, irrespective of their current use, tend to command a premium. For every acre of water to be constructed a further acre of land is required for spoil disposal and landscaping. Planning permission will be required for change of use and lake construction will be treated as engineering works, which incurs higher planning fees. It is advisable to submit a pre-application to the local authority to establish whether or not a full application will be successful. Initial consultations with the Environment Agency and the Highways Authority is always advisable.
A full application can require topographical, site, ecological, archaeological, bat, and highways surveys to provide the required information to the local planning authority for an application to be properly determined.
Fenn Wright are actively involved in advising and assisting clients with planning applications either as the lead agent co-ordinating the planning application or, alternatively, a case of, for example, new dwellings – preparing Dwelling House Appraisals. Over the years we have collated a large number of planning permissions relating to all aspects of fisheries and associated leisure properties and are well placed to advise owners in this specialist area.