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Barn conversions made easy?

Posted on April 7, 2016 by Forde George

How are the 2015 revisions to the Permitted Development Rights, Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order performing?   Are they a simple, fast track route to a source of income for those unloved and unwanted agricultural buildings?

We have considered the imposed restrictions on exercising rights under the Order, in relation to the likely building works required for conversion. From the experience of Forde George it is very probable that successful conversion will rely upon extensive structural improvement to even the most structural stable building, with new elements such as floors, inner loadbearing walls and new primary roof structures being required, this apparently compromising the exercising of PD rights detailed below.

Forde George, in preparing Building Condition surveys for PD applications, can contribute to the Application process, hopefully convincing the Planning Authority of the Buildings suitability for conversion.  Forde George also offer the full design and management service for barn and other building conversion schemes.

In brief, subject to a number of conditions and restrictions, agricultural buildings and land within their curtilage may be converted to a use falling within Class C3 of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order 1987 (dwelling houses). These conditions and restrictions are set out in Class Q of Part 3 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. There is a maximum floor space that may be converted of 450 m2 of floor space of a building or buildings within a single established agricultural unit. The total number of new homes which may be developed is 3 dwellings or 450m2 threshold, is reached. The total number of new homes (3 dwelling houses) excluding existing residential properties within the established agricultural unit, unless created by the use of the permitted development right

So are there any limitations on the extent of building works which can be carried out? Although the permitted development right under Class Q assumes that the agricultural building is capable of functioning as a dwelling, it recognises that for the building to function as a dwelling some building operations which would affect the external appearance of the building, which would otherwise require planning permission, should be permitted e.g. the installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs, exterior walls, partial demolition etc. However it is not the intention of the permitted development right to include the construction of new structural elements for the building. Therefore it is only where the existing building is structurally strong enough to take the loading which comes with the external works to provide for residential use that the building would be considered to have the permitted development right. Arguably therefore an admission that additional structural support or localised rebuilding is required could, on paper, compromise the approval.

The local planning authority can consider whether the location and siting of the building (and the facilities in the area) would make it impractical or undesirable to change use to a house. However if the building is in a location where the local planning authority would not normally grant planning permission for a new dwelling this is not a sufficient reason for refusing prior approval.

There are some limitations to the change to residential use. Where there has been a benefit from Agriculture rights under the existing agricultural permitted development, carried out since 20 March 2013, or within 10 years (before the proposed change to residential use), class Q rights cannot be exercised. The site must have been used solely for an agricultural use for the stated minimum period.

Having satisfied all of these restrictive conditions the Applicant will still need to discuss with the planning authority the possible need for other consents relating issues including transport, highways, noise impacts, flooding and contamination risks on the site and aspects of design or external appearance of the building.

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