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A chance to diversify within National Parks and AONBs?

Fri 15 September 2017

An agricultural building change of use can offer owners the chance to diversify into new businesses and generate much-needed income. However, as many of the developments allowed under the General Permitted Development Order are excluded from areas such as National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Conservation Areas, farmers and landowners in these areas often find themselves unable to pursue their dreams of a new income stream.

A new hope

Nevertheless, clients are rarely aware of a lesser-known set of regulations with fewer exclusions that could provide new opportunity. Class R allows the change of use of an agricultural building to a flexible commercial use within any of the following uses:

  • A1 - shops
  • A2 - financial and professional services
  • A3 - restaurants and cafes
  • B1 - business (offices, research and development, light industrial)
  • B8 - storage and distribution
  • C1 - hotels
  • D2 - assembly and leisure

Unlike other sets of permitted development regulations, Class R is not excluded from use within National Parks, AONBs or Conservation Areas. Therefore, for many agricultural property owners within these areas, Class R can act as an important tool for securing a change of use to diversify an agricultural business or gain an uplift in value.

Restrictions to consider

There is still a number of criteria that must be met and restrictions that apply:

  • The building cannot be listed
  • The maximum area that can be converted is 500 square metres
  • The building must have been solely in agricultural use on 3rd July 2012 or, if it was not in use at all on this date, when it was last in use
  • Class R does not allow for any building operations and therefore any proposed work requires a planning application unless it is entirely internal or does not materially affect the external appearance of the building

Does my building apply?

As long as it complies with these terms, all types of building can qualify, ranging from traditional stone barns to modern sheds.

Prior approval from the council

  • For buildings that are less than 150 square metres, prior approval is not required from the council, however, a number of details must be provided. 
  • If the building exceeds 150 square metres, the developer must apply to the council for a determination on whether prior approval is required.

If you have any questions about Class R or wish to seek further planning advice, please do not hesitate to contact our Professional Services department. 

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