Permitted Development for Agricultural Barns

Living in the beautiful agricultural county of Herefordshire, we often work on and around agricultural barns. One of the questions we get asked most, is about permitted development rights for converting disused agricultural barns into residential accommodation. So, we’ve written a summary of our approach below:

Class Q of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted development) (England) Order 2015 (and amendments made in April 2018) allows you to undertake certain work without obtaining planning permission. Although a condition of the clause means you will still be required to submit notification to the Local Authority so they can assess your site and determine whether prior approval will be required in relation to things like noise, contamination and highways issues.

There are certain criteria your barn will need to meet in order to be eligible for permitted development rights under the act, so it’s worth establishing these before you embark on any design or construction work.

1.      Principally your barn must have been in agricultural use on or prior to March 2013, or for at least 10 years if it was built after this date. If your barn is in a garden or paddock it will not be eligible.

2.     The floor area of the barn to be converted must not exceed 465m2. It is allowable to develop up to 3 dwellings of no more than 450m2 in one agricultural unit, or up to 5 smaller units of no more than 100m2 each. You can develop up to 5 units of mixed sizes, provided there are no more than 3 larger units.

3.     The external dimensions of the residential property must not exceed that of the original agricultural barn.

4.     The structure of the barn must be suitable for conversion – this will need to be assessed by an structural engineer prior to embarking on a notification process. Class Q allows for the installation of windows, doors, roofs, exterior walls and any services that would be required for a dwelling such a water and electricity.

5.     Permitted development will not be allowable if the barn is listed, or within the curtilage of a listed buildings. It should not be in a site of special scientific interest (SSSI)

Interestingly, it has been established in case law that permitted development rights can legitimately be used as a fall back position if you want to apply for planning permission for a new build property on the site of an agricultural barn. You may wish to do this if you need a larger footprint than the barn provides, or you would like to use more sustainable or high-performance construction methods.

Internal works are not relevant to Class Q, so it’s possible to insert mezzanine floors provided the structure can accommodate this and that you can comply with relevant building regulations.

Unfortunately, the way in which local authorities interpret and implement the regulations varies considerably between authorities, so the approval rate for Class Q application is quite low (about 59% compared with 74% for traditional minor residential applications). It is therefore very important to get the right professional advice on board to help you assess the eligibility of your barn and to help you prepare a robust application.