Following initial uncertainty and inconsistency, Planning Authorities are becoming more familiar with the legislation, and a greater percentage of applications are now being approved. However, there remain a number of difficult issues that can trip up the unwary,’ writes  Andrew Preston, Planning Consultant with GTH.
 
First, the site must have been used solely for agriculture, as part of an established agricultural unit, on or before 20th March 2013. This can exclude buildings used for other purposes such as stables or buildings on ‘hobby farms’.
 
Another potential pitfall lies in the extent of building works permitted. The legislation allows ‘reasonably necessary’ works, such as installing or replacing exterior walls and roofs. However, Government guidance states that it is not intended to “include the construction of new structural elements.”  ‘Apparent conflict exists between the legislation and the guidance, which has caused considerable confusion,’ adds Andrew.  Most LPAs now consider that timber, concrete or steel framed buildings must be strong enough to support the required cladding, without any structural enhancement to  the frame or foundations. Stone, brick or block buildings can also be  converted, depending upon the extent of structural work that may be  required to the exterior. In most cases, a detailed Structural  Assessment is required.

It has been argued that the guidance does not allow construction of  new internal structural elements, such as a first floor. However, a recent Planning Appeal decision won by Greenslade Taylor Hunt has clarified that such works can be included.

Whilst the Permitted Development rights have become somewhat easier  to deal with, there are still some major uncertainties, and it can be  all the more important to seek professional advice.

Greenslade Taylor Hunt’s team of experienced Planning Consultants  have had considerable success with such applications and will be pleased to advise accordingly.

Please contact the Land & Planning Department on 01823 334466.