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Farmer Triumphs in Business Rates Exemption Dispute

FarmFarm buildings are exempt from business rates, but only if they are used solely for agricultural purposes. In one striking case, a farmer passed that exacting test and established that no rates were payable on a modern former furniture warehouse which he had used for storing silage and farm equipment.

The trading estate warehouse, which comprised more than 4,000 square metres of space and was said to have a rateable value in excess of £340,000, was formerly occupied by a furniture retailer which went out of business. The farmer subsequently bought the property and used it for storage purposes for about 18 months before it was converted into a supermarket branch.

A council valuation officer argued that rates were payable on the building during the farmer’s period of occupation, despite the latter’s plea that it benefited from the agricultural exemption contained within the Local Government Finance Act 1988. The valuation officer won the debate before the Valuation Tribunal.

In allowing the farmer’s appeal, however, the Upper Tribunal (UT) found that he had occupied and used the warehouse solely in connection with his agricultural operations on his adjoining land and that the exemption therefore applied. The UT directed the property’s deletion from the rating list for the relevant period.