If you find yourself considering following in Clarkson's footsteps, whilst obtaining specialist planning advice is always recommended before initiating any change of use on your property, it is possible that planning permission may not be required if you are making use of an existing building and the farm shop is "ancillary" to the use of the rest of the property as a farm.
The meaning of "ancillary" has been tested through the planning process with the result that pork being sold in the farm shop but slaughtered away from the farm was not judged to be sufficient on its own in order to meet with the rules. The sale of alcohol produced using fruits grown on the farm is also potentially not "ancillary" to the existing agricultural use on the basis that producing alcohol is not deemed to be agricultural. If the operation/production is: generally "agricultural"; incidental to the agricultural process (such as growing the fruits); could be said to be ancillary to other normal farming activities; and is reasonably necessary in order to be able to market the product, then it is more likely that you would be able to use an existing building to sell that product. However, this is not a black and white set of rules and the outcome will differ depending on the circumstances.
It might be a good idea to make enquiries with other farm shops in the area about the produce they stock, as you would also need to be careful to ensure that the farm shop could not be said to be a standalone retail premises. If you sell too many goods that are produced off site or are even imported, you could tip the scales in favour of pure retail and the need for planning permission would again be a factor.
From the perspective of the farm title, it is important to check that there are no restrictions that prevent the property being used for the purpose of a farm shop or retail.
Whilst we are not able to provide core planning advice at Gepp Solicitors, we have strong professional connections with planning specialists, with whom we work regularly. Our rural team are best placed to assist you with advising on any title restrictions that may affect your plans, not to mention advising on your other agricultural business and property needs, including any tax planning rendered necessary by diversifying your farm.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.