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Many ways around the law

As the numbers who cannot afford a conventional home continue to climb,there is greater interest in living off grid as a solution to the housing crisis.  The problem is that property developers sit on available residential land, making it unaffordable for groups of ordinary people to get together and live somewhere pleasant.  Sure its always possible to move to some god-forsaken windswept piece of moorland or desert, but living off the grid should not be so miserable. Here is a summary of the rules and how to get around them: In the UK, the rules state that if you manage to live in a caravan for 10 years or a building for four years, without being discovered, the dwelling becomes ‘lawful’ and you can apply for a ‘certificate of lawfulness’. But skulking around for four years, lying to locals about your true whereabouts is hardly good for your peace of mind. Should someone complain about your dwelling, even at the 11th hour, you can be served an enforcement notice and rendered homeless. And the strategy only works for single-households making it all the more lonely. It would be hard to conceal a community for years. Another better option avaible to small groups is to buy a piece of agricultural land and submit an ‘agricultural prior notice consent form’ to the local planning office detailing the agricultural building you intend to build on your land. This is ‘permitted development’ on agricultural land and hence doesn’t need planning permission. You should receive consent within 28 days and are then entitled to commence building. You can then legally site a temporary mobile home on the land to live in whilst you build your agricultural building (and set up your business). Your temporary accommodation can remain in place while you build for up to five years  while you also develop your business. After five years you can apply for planning permission for a house. You must still prove that you need to live on-site in order to run at least part of your business, and that your overall business generates sufficient income to support you. Parts of Scotland have a long tradition of smallholding known as crofting. Although crofts for rent can be  hard to find and crofts for sale are now as absurdly priced as other housing land, the Scottish Parliament recently made it possible to create new crofts. It is now possible to buy land and apply to the Crofter’s Commission to have it crofted; the main benefit being that planning permission is generally granted for one house on a working croft. Since this legislation is relatively new it’s not clear how it will work in practice, and since the Crofter’s Commission has to consult the relevant planning office it is still possible for planning permission to be refused, so plans should be discussed with the local planning office before buying land. A legal body such as a housing co-op could purchase the land and apply to create a number of new crofts.This also applies to land owned by Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) , even if the land is not for sale. Elsewhere in Scotland a policy allows small farmers with holdings of 100 acres minimum to boost their income by creating ‘crofts’ on their land. These ‘lowland crofts’ are  aimed at ‘hobby farmers.’ In Wales the development of ‘Low Impact Dwellings’ in the open countryside is legal. Adopted by Pembrokeshire National Park Authority in May 2006 and by Pembrokeshire Council in June 2006, Policy 52 ‘…provides a context for permitting development in the countryside as an exception to normal planning policy…’ This is the policy under which the Lammas group finally achieved planning permission and is developing their site. In July 2010 the Welsh Assembly Government issued planning guidelines entitled ‘Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities‘. The guidance states that ‘Low Impact Developments’ may be located within or adjacent to existing settlements or in the open countryside. Useful Websites

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14 Responses to “How to live on Land without Residential Planning Permission”

  1. Reba

    Hi, does anyone know if I can live in a caravan on my dads land. He has planning permission to build a house but we can’t afford to do that at the moment. Thank you, Reba

  2. Jon

    To Simon Masters,
    Whom exactly wants you off ‘your’ Land? and for what reasoning? I own 2 acres of Greenbelt which is also an area of outstanding Natural beauty in Surrey hills England, I’m interested as to how the Laws are changing in terms of housing development land required due to Government infrastructure and growth, as the ‘marriage of land’ between Arable and Residential existing land slowly takes place(due to individual developments.)
    A simple application for ‘change of use’ can be made online, through the local authorities.
    I have neighbours which have had full planning granted, I will keep you posted.

  3. Charlie Barnes

    I’m in Florida. It’s not legal to live on your own land even while you have obtained building permits and are under construction. There are limits to camping even where it’s allowed. Nothing is free and many are not at all brave.

  4. mark

    I am currently living in 6 acres and getting grief of the council first join a freedom site and find out your rights the find out what laws legislation and act are you will be gob smacked alway ask what an act is ….ie town and planning act 1990 ….an act is a deed something done volontary ……you getting the picture no one can ask you questions not even the police the first thing the pllice read you uour rights…..YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING UNLESS YOU WISH TO DO SO …..dont say anhthing …..getting it ….here say is inadmissable in court and so are guesses …..look up private property ….and treaspass ….treaspass is a criminal matter ….building or living on land is a civil mater … evidence is very hagd to prove any thing …you probably wont get a lawful develpment cert but its only paper …..unless you want it to increase the value of ware you live …..then you better get used to giving oral to all government officials any advice if i can help i will charlie lucas face book

  5. Arch

    Re the above in addition
    Planning enforcement do not have a remit to police the area your in, they only react to written complaints, so don’t upset anyone, create a reason to be visiting your land 24/7 sheep is a good one !
    Feel free to lie to planning enforcement like I said never never admit to living there until the time period of 4 years has passed, but make sure that you collect evidence to prove you have been living there, gas bottle delivery record, tv licence, driving licence, etc but nothing that involves the local council ;-)

  6. Arch

    Hi guys, English law.
    I believe that it’s not that you remain undiscovered for 4 years re a building and use, or 10 year for any other use, it’s that enforcement action has not been taken within that time period ! A lot of planning departments are very lax, so get on and live a very low profile live, do not physically conceal what your living in as the law has changed and gives councils an extra year to take action even if you get passed the 4 year or 10 year point. If you haven’t physically concealed anything the 4 and 10 rules still stand. Creat an address for your new home at the outset use the nearest postcode and your field number. Get a tv license to confirm your starting date. But in the 4 or ten year time period DO NOT ADMIT to anyone that you are living there. Anyone out there who’s been successful regarding this type of thing we all need to hear your story’s

  7. Daniel Franks

    This is a powerful topic and one that should be kept live! I am based in the UK and this post is now 3 years old. Do you have any new advice? Living in a building for four years without being detected is possible! Lets call one of them a barn. Where do I sit today?

  8. Cylo Serious

    Any rules known for the U.S?

  9. Matthew Gill

    Great article. My family and and agoup of friends are trying to do this abut we have been worrying abou the rules and getting chucked of whatever land we find. So this is great. If there is anyone else who islooking to do just this same thing and your alone or with a small group also maybe we can talk bout joing together? once agin thanks for this great article

  10. Bernard

    Thank you Superjoe,

    Your article comes just at the right time !

    Your useful informations made things a lot clearer to me. I intend to travel in UK with my family and look for a settlement in UK. Am looking for a land.

    Thank you also to the webmaster and founder of the internetsite. Because of you, I can put a name on what I am searching for : Off the grid !


  11. Lone Eagle

    What about us over here across the big pond!? We are held up by the greed land developers over here tool. What are our laws in the states?

    • Simon Masters

      I can’t say about USA or Canada. From what I see and read from Whole Earth Catalogue its easier out there with a pioneering history. Good to reflect on #Crofting. I am 58 year old vegan, living off-grid on 3 acres of land owned by my father for 50 years, with AgSci degree and horticultural business enterprise experience: 35 years into a carbon sequestration and permaculture business plan, harvesting wild cherries this month and yet served with Enforcement! #StillTheyWantMeOffMyLand
      This is in Somerset, England 2018