If you’re considering converting redundant, under-used agricultural buildings into residential dwellings, you may be able to do so without the need for planning permission.

The right to convert agricultural buildings

Permitted development rights (PDR) allows for certain types of development to be carried out without the need for planning permission provided certain criteria are met. The right to convert agricultural buildings to up to five residential dwellings is set out in Schedule 2, Part 3, Class Q of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO).

As you’d expect, there are a number of limitations which include:

Class Q conversions do not apply to buildings in conservation areas, national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, SSSIs nor if the building is listed or a scheduled monument. Also excluded are safety hazard and military explosive storage areas.

The Process

A ‘prior approval‘ application must be submitted to the relevant local planning authority before any works are carried out. The local planning authority will determine whether or not it wants to approve certain details of the scheme, namely design and external appearance, transport and highway impacts, noise impacts, and contamination and flooding risks. The local planning authority can also consider whether “the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to a dwelling”.

The local planning authority has 56 days to determine a Part Q prior approval (unless a written extension of time is agreed between the parties), after which time the proposal is considered to benefit form ‘deemed consent’. However, this is only the case where the proposal meets all the relevant criteria.

Drawings will need to be provided with any prior approval application. These drawings need to indicate the dimensions and proposed use of each room, along with the position and dimensions of doors, windows and walls. The drawings will need to demonstrate that adequate natural light is available to all habitable rooms (typically sleeping and living rooms) and minimum space standards for internal accommodation are achieved.

For further advice on converting agricultural buildings to other uses, whether that’s via permitted development rights or a full planning application, please contact  Jane Rarok, Principal Planning Consultant, Paris Smith Planning team.