Although Lincoln's administrative area is highly urbanised, agriculture still occupies a sizeable part of it.
When the modern planning system was established in 1947, boosting food production was a post- war imperative and the agricultural industry was afforded wide exemptions from planning controls. Since then, the priority attached to national food production has diminished, especially since entry into the European Union, to the point where, for the first time this century, agricultural land is being taken out of production and farmers encouraged to diversify their activities. Although controls have been tightened over the years, often in response to specific issues (e.g. minimising livestock keeping's impact on amenity), the planning system exercises less control over agricultural development than is generally the case. Consequently, many agricultural buildings and structures can still be put up without specific planning permission. Within these limitations, the City Council must control development to protect amenity, whilst recognising the needs of modern farming.

Modern agricultural buildings and structures are often large and functional in design. Insensitively sited, they can damage landscape quality and visual amenity. They may dominate natural features in a particular x area, or they may block or detract from important views into or out of the City, or, impair its landscape setting. The City Council, therefore, welcomes policies to protect views of Lincoln from areas beyond the City boundary adopted by the adjacent District Councils and by the County Council in its review of the Structure Plan.

Diversification of Agriculture

National Planning Policy Guidance (PPG7: "The Countryside and Rural Economy") recognises that ongoing reform of the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy will have significant ramifications for the economics of agricultural businesses and land use.

"Landowners will need to look at a range of options for the economic use of their land, including expanded woodland planting, recreation and leisure enterprises and the restoration of damaged landscapes and habitats". (PPG7)

Initiatives to diversify agricultural enterprises may occur throughout the countryside, in response to the reform of agricultural policy. It is likely that many of these schemes will involve locations close to urban areas - if only to take advantage of the concentration of potential customers. Uncontrolled, diversification could introduce unacceptable disturbance into presently quiet areas or damage Lincoln's landscape setting. For instance, many of the celebrated views of Lincoln are across open farmland towards the historic, hill-top City. While the Cathedral and the rest of the historic City may take the eye, the quality of that landscape composition is heavily dependent upon the agricultural foreground within which it sits. In particularly sensitive areas it may be desirable to bring agricultural buildings under local planning control by making Article 4 Directions.

The main objectives of this Local Plan for agriculture are to ensure that farming needs can be met whilst:

•    the open appearance of agricultural land, is safeguarded;
•    existing agricultural buildings, which contribute in a positive way to landscape quality, are retained and their character safeguarded (see a/so Policy 31: "Development Affecting Buildings and Structures of Local Importance");
•    the essentially quiet character of these areas is maintained.

Within these general objectives, a wide range of alternative uses may be suitable for existing agricultural buildings. Extensions and alterations may be acceptable - provided they are needed to achieve the change of use and do not detract from the existing building's character. New, free- standing buildings, may be permitted where they are either ancillary to field based, open air leisure or sporting activities, or are for a farm shop. In order to minimise the impact on visual amenity, new buildings should be grouped, where possible, with existing buildings and their design and materials should be compatible with them.

The Local Plan does not define the leisure and sporting activities likely to be approved as part of diversification proposals, primarily because demand for these activities is highly susceptible to fashion and innovation.