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How to make the most of outbuildings

Fri 8 December 2017

If you have surplus outbuildings on your farm, now is a good time to explore the various options available for their reuse. 

By now most readers will have heard of General Permitted Development Order regulations for the conversion of agricultural buildings to dwellings, or ‘Class Q’. 

Jenny Cox of Stags Professional Services team explains, “The interpretation of the rules by local authorities has changed greatly since their introduction, and the approach still varies from area to area with some authorities showing more leniency than others.”

 “We suggest that it is worth revisiting cases where a Class Q application was not successful in the past to find out whether the local authority’s concerns can be addressed with reference to decisions made in another area,” advises Jenny.

However, Class Q isn’t the only option available. Within many Local Authority areas there is support for the reuse of redundant barns for holiday accommodation as part of a farm diversification project. This can be a good alternative to Class Q if an additional income stream is desired as it generally also allows more alterations to the building. 

The lesser-known Class R regulations present an opportunity for the conversion of agricultural buildings to a flexible commercial use, including retail (e.g. farm shop), office, café and storage use. These rules have fewer exclusions than Class Q and can be used in National Parks, AONBs or Conservation Areas. 

A commercial use can also benefit from funding under current European capital grant schemes. The new LEADER and Growth Programmes offer capital grant funding for tourism facilities and new business startup and expansion, as well as some educational, training and renewable energy projects. 

“We have advised a number of business on obtaining grant funding, including a new start-up farm shop, a wedding venue and a glamping business” says Jenny. “The grant funds up to 40% of the capital costs of a project and will pay for converting buildings and purchasing equipment. They are therefore worth exploring for those who have a diversification project in mind,” advises Jenny.

For more information on anything mentioned in this article please contact Stags Professional Services.

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