Planning and farm buildings
Seek expert advice and think carefully before developing redundant agricultural buildings, advises Nial Casselden
The idea of developing redundant agricultural buildings following recent changes to planning law may seem attractive, but it might be wise to consider a wider strategic approach.
To boost housing supply in the countryside, in April the Government altered the Class Q permitted development legislation which allows the conversion of agricultural buildings into houses without the need for planning permission.
It is now feasible to create up to three larger homes with a maximum combined floorspace of 465sq m, or up to five smaller dwellings, each having a maximum floorspace of 100sq m. A mix of both is also possible to a maximum of five houses; three of these may be larger homes exceeding 100sq m.
The requirement for a building to be structurally strong enough to bear the weight of conversion work has gone; structural reinforcement is now acceptable. Local planning authorities may not refuse applications due to the extent of internal work needed.
Another potential opportunity arises with the change in the size of new agricultural buildings allowable through permitted development rights; for larger farms this has increased from 465sq m to 1,000sq m.
However, opportunities come with pros and cons. It may be important to consider succession planning as part of any scheme; for instance, a farmer with a son or daughter coming into the business may want to provide accommodation for him or her. It may be strategic to consider applying for a house with an agricultural tie and resolve this before developing redundant barns, therefore maximising development opportunity on the holding.
The success of a proposal depends on whether it can be described as a `conversion’ or whether it is really a rebuild. This is a grey area and professional advice may clarify chances of success. Nial Casselden, Associate Director (Planning). For advice, contact Fisher German’s Chester office on 01244 409660.