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Author Topic: starting a small holding  (Read 25127 times)


  • Joined Jan 2009
  • staffordshire England
starting a small holding
« on: January 27, 2009, 04:21:23 pm »
Hello, my name is mark from Burton on trent. Im 32 years old and have always had an interest in keeping livestock. I worked part time on farms when at school and i currently keep backyard poultry. I am also interested in hunting dogs i.e terriers and lurchers and other country persuits.
  Just recently some land local to where i live now has come up for sale. At the moment it is just rough grazing land which has been in disuse for several years. There is 66acres in total and the smallest plot available is 2 and a half acres. I now live with my family on the opposite side of town to where the land is for sale and would very much like to buy a portion of this land, set up a small holding on it and would also be interested in either building a house or erecting a mobile home/log cabin type of building along with some animal housing/barns. Iam wondering if anyone on this site can give me advice on how to go about setting up in this way. I would like to know how many acres you must own to be classed as a small holding, also what are the housing rules involved in small holding? Are there any goverment bodies i can telephone to get all the information i need? any help given in answering any of these questions will be greatly appreciated.


  • Guest
Re: starting a small holding
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2009, 07:13:02 pm »
Hi Mark,

I'm up in Scotland where the rules may be slightly different, but here goes -

Amount of land - I don't think there's a set amount, lots of people who are 'smallholders' have nothing more than an average sized garden - it's what you do with it that counts !

DEFRA (or SEERAD in Scotland) or your local animal health office can give you info on minimum size of animal housing and stocking density etc and all the info on disease control etc. It's probably worth doing a couple of courses on the particular animals you are looking for. Sometimes some established smallholders do them, there may be some in your area - this way you get 'hands on' before your stock arrives and they can give you hints & tips that you won't get in most books.

As for building a house or siting a mobile home - talk to the planning department at your local council BEFORE you buy your land. We tried to get permission for a new build tied to our existing farm (130 acres) but 5 years and many thousands of £'s later - we are no further forward. They wanted business plans showing financial viability, increase in road usage and just generally led us a merry dance when I think infact they never had any intention of giving permission - ever ! But as I've said I'm up in scotland any maybe it's just like that here, but I'd still try to get an appointment with a planning officer to discuss your idea and see if they can give you an indication or whether it's likely to be approved before you buy !

Good luck and I wish you all the best with it,

Karen  ;D


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: starting a small holding
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2009, 09:00:55 pm »
Hi, Mark

Getting planning permission won't be easy. You maybe want to talk to a planning consultant now or contact to see if they can help.


  • Joined Jan 2009
  • staffordshire England
Re: starting a small holding
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2009, 06:15:34 pm »
Hiya happyhippy,thanks for the reply,im useless with the computer[girlfiend did yesterdays post] so you will have to bear wih my typing skills.I too had problems with some stables and land i bought years ago at auction,the local council and planning department were an absolute nightmare to deal with,i ended up selling the place again just to be rid of the headache.They seem to serve no other purpose than to extract as much money as possible from ordinary people who are trying to improve/enrich their lives,and the only ones who get anywhere are big building companys who dont let a few backhanders get in the way of their "progress". Surely 1 ecologically friendly house on a few acres of ground where a family could be almost self sufficient isnt too much to ask? Who am i trying to kid,this is britain! Rant over,sorry.Wont be buying any land untill ive looked into everything properly.May take your advice and do a pig husbandry course coz i will be having a couple in the next few years no matter what.


  • Joined Jan 2009
  • staffordshire England
Re: starting a small holding
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2009, 06:45:03 pm »
Thanks Rosemary,will definatly think before i buy and will try that website you suggested aswell.


  • Guest
Re: starting a small holding
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2009, 07:51:33 pm »
Hi Mark,

So it seems planners are the same no matter where you go - I know what you mean about the backhanders ! A guy about a mile from me managed to get away with tearing down 2 acres of well established woodland and replacing it with about 20 'retirement houses' horrible new builds with UPVC conservatories that look soooo out of place in the middle of the country - but the planners had debates with me for over 2 months regarding the sizing of my proposed traditional wooden sash windows!
It's all money, money, money and it's so wrong cos the guys with the cash to pay off the planners are the ones who chuck up these quick, cheap environmentally unfriendly houses for PROFIT, but the people who want to live in the country and be self sufficient actually care about what they build and try to be as 'green' as possible...... there's no justice !
Anyway, sorry that's my rant over !

I have to say on the subject of pigs, if you're anything like me, you'll love them!
I have to admit that after reading 'Starting with Pigs' by Andy Case, I went to 'look' at some weaners (no hubby & dad , i PROMISE i won't buy any! - they should never have let me go on my own!) and arrived home 2 hours later with 2 weaners inside a tonne feed back in the back of my company car !
So a hasty shelter was made inside our garden shed for them until we managed to convert an old oil tank into a more permanent home. We raised them purely for meat and in the time we had them (spring - just before xmas) had no problems, other than a few escape attempts. But before I get more to breed with I'm going to get to a course to teach me about farrowing and things to look for long term with them, just to be on the safe side.
My 2 girls (aptly named Sausage & Rasher) were just like big dogs, tails wagging when they saw you, squeels of glee when the food bucket was produced and loved nothing more than running about playing with my kids (who were only 4 & 2 at the time)

Best of luck

Karen  :pig:


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
    • Facebook
Re: starting a small holding
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2009, 08:53:15 pm »
I hate planners too - little tin gods!
I have a small plot back in Aberdeenshire, and because we lived in a hamlet of only 7 houses special rules applied whereby only 20% of the current stock could be built in any 5 year planning period.  Next one starts beginning 2011, so technically I have to wait till then.  However, they are presently considering an application from a local developer for the village less than two miles away to treble it's size!  From 100 houses to almost 300!!!!  My architect is trying to explain how unfair that is, but I doubt they will listen.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age


  • Joined Jan 2009
  • West Cornwall
    • Movement is Life
Re: starting a small holding
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2009, 04:40:22 pm »
Aaaargh planners....... nuff said - it got to the point with our dealings with them that we practically felt like selling our land because of all the hassle and feelings of bashing heads against brick walls. However we kept stuck in and have finally got the permission we were after - though we had to give in to alot of their requirements. At least we shouldn't have to talk to them again - fingers crossed.

If you do get to talk to them about what you can and can't do then get the meeting notes minuted and signed, good luck!


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