Farmers and Landowners welcome new Permitted Development Rights allowing conversion of agricultural buildings to residential use. There is potentially huge scope for landowners and farmers to capitalise on their redundant farm buildings following the introduction of new permitted development rights for agricultural buildings that came into force on 6th April this year allowing the change of use of an agricultural building to a use falling within Class C3 (dwelling houses).
There is potentially huge scope for landowners and farmers to capitalise on their redundant farm buildings following the introduction of new permitted development rights for agricultural buildings that came into force on 6th April this year allowing the change of use of an agricultural building to a use falling within Class C3 (dwelling houses).
Permitted development rights are essentially a right to make certain changes to a building without the need to apply for full planning permission. These derive from a general planning permission granted from Parliament rather than from permission granted by the local planning authority.
The changes will NOT apply in designated areas including:
-Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
They also do NOT apply if:
-The land forms part of an Area of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
-The site is or contains a scheduled monument
-The building is a listed building
Key Criteria and Restrictions
Buildings must have been used solely for an agricultural use, as part of an agricultural unit as at 20th March 2013. The new rights are not available to businesses that have used other Permitted Development rights to build or extend agricultural buildings since 20 March 2013. Buildings used for equine uses are generally not considered “agricultural” in planning terms.
In addition, those utilising the new residential rights will also not be able to benefit from Permitted Development Rights to construct or extend an agricultural building for a period of 10 years so it is essential to weigh up the short term benefit of conversion to the future needs of the core farm business enterprise.
Any development under the new permitted development rights is limited to three dwellings over a maximum combined floor area of 450sq m. The development must be contained within the existing building’s footprint and roofline.
As per government guidance, the new rights allow for physical changes necessary to convert the building to a dwelling including the installation or replacement of:
-windows, doors, roofs or exterior walls, or
-water, drainage, electricity, gas or other services and;
-partial demolition to the extent reasonably necessary to carry out building operations.
It will be possible to use the curtilage of the building as garden land but the new houses created under these provisions will not benefit from normal residential permitted development rights, for example to extend a property or erect outbuildings such as garages or sheds within those curtilages. Such development will require full planning permission.
Prior Notification Process
These new Permitted Development rights are certainly welcome news for the owners of farm buildings that are underutilised or no longer suited to modern agriculture but the process itself isn’t all plain sailing.
Although owners will not need to apply for full planning consent, they will still have to notify their Local Planning Authority to determine if prior approval will be needed relating to issues such as transport and highways, development in areas of flood risk, land contamination and safety hazard zones.
And a final snag, whether the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to a house.
Prior to starting any works, a prior approval application must be submitted to the local Council. The Council have 56 days from the submission of a valid application to issue a decision; if a decision is not issued within this time then development can begin. If the Council refuse your prior approval application you will have a right of appeal.
Such prior notification procedures can be complex and require careful handling, given that you only have one chance to get it right. Samuel & Son can offer detailed guidance and advice on this very recent change in legislation and would be happy to assist in any way to submit such an application.
A Golden Opportunity
Cynics among us may fear that local authorties have been provided with plenty of ammunition to block applications. However, given Government’s objectives to support economic growth and a commitment to provide more rural homes through the use of redundant buildings, we are hopeful that local councils will not be allowed to be unnecessarily obstructive.
Samuel & Son urge anyone who has an interest in exploring this possibility to grab hold of the opportunity now. We are already working on several farm barn to dwelling applications for local landowners so please contact our planning expert Dan Page to discuss your situation and options on this matter or any other planning issues.
Dan Page MRICS FAAV
Telephone 01435 864020