New housing guidance aims to keep Exmoor families farming

Local planning policy recognises that maintaining the fabric of Exmoor’s farming community is intrinsic to conserving the landscape
Local planning policy recognises that maintaining the fabric of Exmoor’s farming community is intrinsic to conserving the landscape

Exmoor National Park Authority is inviting comments on guidance looking at how new homes for farming families can be applied for.

The draft 'Rural Worker and Succession Farm Dwelling' guidance applies to those working in land-based businesses in the national park, such as farming or forestry.

It is supplementary to existing national guidelines as well as those set out in the Local Plan for the national park.

It is part of a public consultation which aims to keep Exmoor families farming. It will run for six weeks until 18 June 2019.

Nationally, homes in the open countryside are only permitted in exceptional circumstances, such as needing a full-time worker permanently on site to tend livestock.

Local planning policy further recognises that maintaining the fabric of Exmoor’s farming community is intrinsic to conserving the distinct landscapes and habitats of the national park, along with the centuries-old farming practices that help sustain them.



For example, there is extra flexibility to help older farmers retire and a younger generation to take on responsibility for the farm business, or for larger dwellings to be applied for if the scale or nature of the enterprise demands it and the need can’t be met through alternative arrangements.

But equally the rules are necessarily stringent around the impact of any new dwelling on the landscape to ensure they are sensitive to the unique character and scenic beauty of the national park.

These new guidelines are intended to help balance these two obligations.

Robin Milton, Chairman of the National Park Authority, said the guidance is intended to help applicants and all those involved in planning for farm dwellings in the national park.

“This is an important document for Exmoor and its communities to ensure there are opportunities for new housing where it is essential to working people being able to live locally and to conserve and enhance this beautiful area,” he said.

Exmoor was first designated as a national park in 1954. It includes 267 square miles of moorland, woodland, farmland and valleys.