Farm shops and the law

There are a number of laws which apply to farm shops and this article briefly looks at the main ones.

Planning permission and consents for farm shops

The law relating to planning permission for farm shops is complex. Before opening a farm shop you should, therefore, check with your local planning authority whether planning permission is required. Ideally you should get your local planning authority to make a ruling as to whether planning permission is required or not.

If you are planning to build a new building or change the use of an existing building planning permission will normally be required. Planning permission will be required if you intend to sell any produce that has been processed.

Consent will be needed for listed buildings and for proposed developments in conservation areas (known as “conservation area building regulation approval”). Consents may also be required where trees or hedges are to be removed or where a development is likely to affect wildlife and protected species such as bats.

Planning permission is not, however, generally required for agricultural operations, the use of existing buildings on agricultural land for agricultural purposes, small changes to the outside of buildings or changes to the inside of buildings. Planning permission is not normally needed for existing buildings that are run as a farm shop and only sell unprocessed produce produced on the farm where the farm shop is situated.

If your farm has five hectares or more you will have certain “permitted development rights”. These allow you to erect, extend or alter buildings and to carry out excavations and engineering operations. However, such changes must be reasonably necessary for the purposes of agriculture and planning permission may still be required in relation to some aspects of the development.

If you rent your farm you should also obtain your landlord’s consent to the development.

Building control approval for farm shops

Building Control approval is required in relation to certain structural and other types of work. You should, therefore, check whether your local authority’s Building Control Department has any requirements in this regard.

Fire safety requirements for farm shops

It is a requirement, under the Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005, that a “responsible person” carries out a fire risk assessment. Following the risk assessment the responsible person is responsible for implementing appropriate fire safety measures to minimise the risk to life from fire and to keep the assessment up to date. A “responsible person” will normally be the owner or manager of the farm shop.

Fire certificates are no longer required.

Licences for farm shops

The majority of food businesses are required to register their premises with their local authority. The premises for certain types of businesses need to be approved, rather than registered. These include businesses that produce milk and dairy products, eggs, meat and meat products and fish and fish products.

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For more information on:

  • Food safety and hygiene
  • Labelling and weights and measures