The Government has announced consultation on significant reforms to agricultural tenancy law in the UK. The consultation period expires on 2nd July 2019. Developers and their advisors would do well to participate and respond to the proposals.

The proposals include provision for the creation of longer term Farming Business Tenancies or FBTs with longer break notice periods. These are intended to encourage agricultural investment in farming activities. However, they could make land assembly more problematic. 

The consultation tries to accommodate future development through shorter break rights which would apply where planning consent has been granted. The potential difficulty with this approach is having to wait until after planning consent has been granted before serving notice. Under the current proposals it could still add at least a 6 months' notice delay plus additional time for dispute resolution before vacant possession of a site is obtained and development can commence.

Elsewhere, the proposals create new and wider rights of assignment of Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies to third parties for a 25 year term. Although there is reference to the creation of a new landowner buyback.  This cost will inevitably come off land value, and it remains to be seen whether it could act to discourage landowners from bringing forward new housing sites.