Key changes in planning laws will allow more options to convert agricultural buildings into much-needed family homes.

From this April permitted development rights will allow up to five new homes to be created from existing agricultural buildings within a holding, rather than the current three.

The news follows a recent decision by the Government to clarify the position regarding Class Q development, which should also increase the supply of rural homes.

This allows certain agricultural buildings to be converted to residential use under permitted development rights as an alternative option to the normal planning permission process.

However there are “grey areas” regarding what is and what is not allowed.

Andrew Preston MRICS, Associate with land and development experts Greenslade Taylor Hunt, said: “Essentially, the Government has changed the guidance on the suitability of a building for conversion, and the extent of work that may be carried out.  

“The new wording states that in order to qualify for the permitted development right, the agricultural building should be capable of functioning as a dwelling. It is only where the existing building is already suitable for conversion to residential use that the building would be considered to have the permitted development right.”

The new guidance has also clarified that internal structural works, such as insertion of a ground floor, a mezzanine floor, or internal walls, are not generally development and hence may not be prohibited under Class Q.

In addition the Government has updated guidance on other agricultural permitted development rights including farm shops, polytunnels, on-farm reservoirs, farm tracks, and on-farm flood protection or alleviation works.  The new legislation will also allow agricultural buildings up to 1,000 sq.m. to be erected on larger holdings under permitted development rules.

If you would like advice on this or any other planning related matter please contact the experienced team at Greenslade Taylor Hunt on 01823 334466.