Diversification can be the ideal way of providing a new income stream to the farm business and making use of under utilised assets. Finance and planning permission are often top considerations for new projects but is the potential business rates liability being overlooked?

Farmers are in a privileged position when it comes to rates, with agricultural land and buildings being exempt. However, as soon as agricultural buildings or land change to a non-domestic use a rating liability can arise.

In theory the local planning department is supposed to pass the new development onto the Valuation Office rating team, who then assess it for rating purposes. However, some local authorities are better than others at doing so.


Typically, farm diversifications are relatively small scale and can benefit from Small Business Rate Relief. If you are planning a project it is worthwhile assessing the rating liability at the outset, when you can still adapt your proposals to fall within the Small Business Rate Relief threshold.

If you are considering a new project and would like planning and/or business rate advice then please do not hesitate to contact Ellen Cottrell on 01684 853400 or by email ellencottrell@fts.carverknowles.co.uk