CLA Midlands Adviser blog: Do I need planning permission for a farm track?

CLA Midlands Regional Surveyor John Greenshields look at whether you need planning permission for a farm track.

Planning permission at times can be a grey area. With many rules covering all aspects of development but also the use of the development, and few examples demonstrates this better than the seemingly innocuous farm track.

A farm track benefits from being treated as a permitted development right which means that applications are treated under the Prior Approval path. This is a fast track through planning for minor developments on land over 5 hectares (12.3 acres) provided they satisfy a list of criteria which are contained in Part 6 of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order (GDPO) 2015 which states that ‘the formation or alteration of a private way’ is permissible provided it meets the following criteria:

  • The track must be used for agriculture/forestry and have a reasonably justifiable need. It cannot be used for any other purposes that would be the main intended use of the track. (An example of this would be a new access to the front of your house which will need full planning permission - a much more detailed, longer and expensive procedure where the risk of refusal is greater).
  • The land in question must belong to a holding >5ha (>12.3ac) on individual parcels of land not less than 1ha (2.5ac) in size.
  • It will not connect or is within 25m of a classified road or on a public right of way. You will need to contact Highways England and your local county council.
  • Is not located within Article 2(4) land which comprises a National Park, the Broads or certain Parishes with notable landscape value. The full list of Parishes is shown on Pages 13 & 14 of the GPDO 2015.

If any of the above criterial isn’t satisfied then you will need full planning permission. Members should also be aware that Part 9 (E) (repairs to un-adopted streets and private ways) allows ‘the carrying out on land within the boundaries of an unadopted street or private way of works required for the maintenance or improvement of the street or way’ which extends beyond agricultural/forestry uses.  

Full Planning Permission

Aspect of the application

Permitted Development (PD) (Prior Approval)

National coverage


Applicable in all areas excluding National Parks

Any track (not necessary for tracks that satisfy PD rights)


Must be necessary for agri/forestry, on land over 5ha (and parcel over 1ha) and not linking to classified road

A large form requiring supporting plans and documents

Application Form

Simple form

Location plan, site plan and planning statement. Potentially also drawings and environmental surveys

Supporting documents required


Depends on the size (calculated on £234 per 0.1 hectare)

Application fee


8 weeks after application has been validated (usually 1 week after submission)

Decision date

28 days after the submission is received by the Council

Burden of proof why track is required and is a sustainable development

Basis of decision

To be approved unless doesn’t satisfy criteria. If no decision is made within 28 days you may proceed

However if you have used the route on many previous occasions which has resulted in the creation of a bare soil track you may not need planning, but if you intend to carry out engineering works to improve the track (levelling or adding quarried stone or any form of surface) you will need planning. This can, unhelpfully be open to interpretation because when exactly does a repair become more significant works that require full planning permission (such as widening or adding turning/storage areas).

If you require any further information then please contact your local CLA office.