On the 6th April 2014, new Permitted Development Rights are coming into force which allows the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential (maximum of three dwellings) without the need for planning permission. This is a great opportunity for land owners with agricultural estates to maximise their use and value.
The relaxation includes buildings in the Green Belt, but excludes listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments. It applies to buildings that have been in agricultural use as of 3 July 2012. Buildings constructed or converted to agricultural use from this date will only qualify for the new permitted development rights after 10 years. The new rules only apply to agricultural buildings constructed before a certain date.
The rules now allow farmers and estate owners to form their own decisions on the reuse of farm buildings without the need for planning approval. The amendments are intended to help bring disused buildings back into use; promote farm diversification whilst also increasing the supply of residential units.
The new rules won’t mean all buildings can be converted to alternative uses straight way. Changes to external appearance may still require planning consent, particularly if they go beyond the envelope of the existing building. Considerations will still need to be given to the provision of services and compliance with Building Regulations.
With the possibility to more easily convert barns it is thought that this will help enable business succession, with a new home for a retiring farmer or the next generation for example. There will be more opportunities for people to move into the countryside to live, helping to promote and sustain rural economies. There is now the ability to make better use of farm buildings that may currently be inappropriate for modern farming systems, all of which could benefit rural areas. Until now, some owners have been left with buildings that may be unsuitable for modern agriculture which have remained redundant because change of use planning applications were denied.
It will, however, still be necessary to apply to the Local Planning Authority for ‘prior approval’. More specifically under the PD rules, interested parties must notify their Local Authority to determine whether prior approval will be required in relation to the scheme’s transport, highways and noise impacts, the site’s risk of contamination or flooding, and whether the location of the building "makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable" to change the use.
However, recent data on the subject demonstrated that more than 50% of agricultural to residential application for prior approval have been refused. Our own experience, has shown that these proposals are not as straight forward as once thought. Councils have spent years preventing further residential use in the countryside, and there appears a reluctance to allow buildings to convert as easily as the Government originally intended. Those land owners planning any conversions will still need to work in consultation with their Local Authorities and as such it is recommended that expert planning advice is taken before committing finances to a project.
For further advice contact Iain Bramhill, Chartered Architect or Iain Hill, Head of Planning at Ingleton Wood via email@example.com