Farmer obtains agricultural exemption from business rates for redundant retail warehouse used for storage

A recent case provides a helpful analysis of the conditions required for a building to qualify for the agricultural exemption from business and also shows, as always, it is important to consider the facts in any planning case.

The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) has held that a redundant retail warehouse that a farmer used temporarily to store agricultural machinery and animal feed (silage) was an agricultural building for the purposes of the agricultural exemption from business rates.

The farmer in this case owned a redundant retail warehouse and had produced silage on 53 acres of adjoining pasture, which he also owned. Although, as well know, it is not normal agricultural practice to store baled silage indoors, the wrapped bales had been vandalised in the past when left on the pasture. In addition to the benefit of increased security it was also more convenient for the farmer to use the building to store silage taken from adjoining land than to transport it long distances at a particularly busy time of year.

Following a valuation which resulted in the valuation officer’s refusal to delete the building from the rating list for the relevant period, the farmer appealed to the Valuation Tribunal for England (Valuation Tribunal). His case was initially dismissed as the Valuation Tribunal found that

  • the building was not occupied together with agricultural land as "agricultural buildings connote buildings subsidiary or ancillary to or needed as a necessary aid to agricultural operations taking place on the land" and; the building was not used solely in connection with agricultural operations.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.