Change of planning rules for farm buildings and housing conversions

Farmers will be allowed to increase the size of buildings and convert more buildings to housing, following changes to permitted development rights (PDRs). Our farm property and agricultural specialist Ian Naylor explains more…

Permitted development rights enable certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without needing to obtain planning permission from the local planning authority.

Following a consultation last year, the Government announced changes to the Class Q permitted development legislation which allows for the conversion of agricultural buildings to dwellings without planning permission.

Until now the legislation has allowed for the conversion of up to 450sqm of agricultural building floorspace to a maximum of three dwellings. The amendments came into effect in April 2018, so it is now be possible to convert agricultural floorspace to create one of these alternatives:

  • Up to three ‘larger homes’, with a combined maximum floorspace of 465 sqm.
  • Up to five smaller homes (each less than 100 sqm).
  • A mix of both, with a total of no more than five homes, of which no more than three may be larger homes.

In addition, farmers who no longer need buildings for storage and distribution uses now have more time to use permitted development rights for their conversion to residential use.

The government announced a temporary permitted development right last year to allow this to happen, and farmers now have until June 10, 2019 to use this rule.

This creates a golden opportunity for farmers and landowners to realise the value from their buildings, however, it is worth noting the following before you go ahead:

Before proceeding it is first necessary to make an application to the local planning authority for prior approval in respect of matters including transport and highways, noise, contamination, flooding, practicality of location and design and appearance.

Under permitted development these rights are subject to conditions which include that the building has been solely used for agricultural use for a period, whether there is a listed building on the site, the dimensions cannot extend beyond the external dimensions of the existing agricultural building, and where the conversion is to a larger home the floor space cannot be more than 465 sqm. For more information see www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/contents/made

Developers also need to bear in mind that building works must be deemed as necessary, and works are specified as partial demolition, installing or replacing windows, doors, roofs, water, drainage or other services.

Permitted development of this type must be completed within three years of the date of prior approval.

It is hoped that this relaxation in planning rules will help rural communities meet local housing needs, while creating an opportunity for farmers and landowners to realise the value from their buildings.

The changes have been welcomed by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, who have seen an increase in the number of applications for new rural homes.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “Changing permitted development rights to increase the size limit of farm buildings will ensure farmers are better able to cope with the demands of modern farming and help to create more profitable businesses.

“This, along with the increased ability to build more desperately needed homes by converting existing farm buildings will reinvigorate rural communities and help to build a stronger, more sustainable countryside.”

If you’re a farmer or landowner looking for advice on planning, tenancies or development issues contact Ian Naylor on 01538 399199 or email icn@bowcockpursaill.co.uk

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