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Expansion of Permitted Development Rights for Farm Buildings Takes Effect

New permitted development (PD) rights that allow for the conversion of agricultural buildings into residential and commercial properties without a full planning application have officially come into force from May 21st. Amongst other changes, Class Q, and Class R are likely to be the most popular pathways to develop a site.

Class Q

Class Q was first introduced by the government in April 2014. The recent Class Q amendment streamlines the process for many barn conversions, and can be an option to convert existing or former agricultural buildings into dwellings. This includes making necessary modifications, such as installing windows, doors, and utilities, or performing partial demolition, to make the building functional as a residence.

While Class Q simplifies the planning process, there are limitations to keep in mind. The site must have been part of an established agricultural unit for at least 10 years before conversion. The resulting dwellings cannot exceed 150 square meters each, with a cap of 10 dwellings and 1,000 square meters of total dwelling floor space per agricultural unit. Extensions are restricted to single-story additions at the back of the building, provided there is existing hardstanding, with limitations on height and distance from the existing structure. The external envelope can now also be extended to include necessary operations, such as cladding. Conversions cannot be done on protected land or buildings, such as listed buildings, conservation areas, and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Additionally, the resulting dwellings must meet space standards and have suitable access to a public road.

Although Class Q removes the need for full planning permission, most conversions still require prior approval from the local planning authority. This approval may involve considerations such as the traffic impact of the new dwellings, noise levels, contamination risks on the site, flooding risks, suitability of the location for a dwelling, design and external appearance of the converted building, provision of adequate natural light in the new homes, and the impact of any extension on neighbouring properties.

Class R

The order also amends Class R, which governs the conversion of agricultural buildings to commercial use.  Class R allows for the conversion to general industrial use, storage or distribution, hotels, commercial, business, service uses, and outdoor sport/recreation facilities. The amendments now provide greater flexibility by doubling the maximum permitted floor area to 1,000 square meters. Additionally, conversions for agricultural training facilities are now considered permitted development, streamlining the process for establishing valuable educational resources.

It’s important to note that specific conditions apply, particularly for general industrial use (Class B2). Conversions for this class are only allowed for processing a limited range of raw materials.

These reforms are designed to offer greater flexibility to farmers and the rural community across England. They present a significant opportunity to unlock the potential of underutilised agricultural buildings that can lead to increased income streams, job creation, and a boost to the rural economy.

Here at Halletec, we can provide the full service, taking you through the design process, help you navigate through the planning process, submit your planning submission, and deal with any  post determination conditions.

Contact us at [email protected] to see how we may be able to help with your project.



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