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PDR - Further Government Guidance

Agricultural Buildings to Dwellings

Following the “post code lottery” created by different Local Authority’s interpretations of the regulations governing permitted rights to convert farm buildings into dwellings, the Government have issued further planning guidance of particular significance are the following topics:

Sustainable location

It has been common for Local Authorities to refuse an application on the basis that the location of the proposed conversion is undesirable because it is away from any other settlement or local services and amenities.  The revised guidance clearly states that if the agricultural building is in a location where the Local Planning Authority would not normally grant planning permission for a  new dwelling it would not be sufficient reason for refusing the prior approval application.  This means that conversion projects which have previously been refused on this basis may well be worth reviewing.  

If a holding has previously converted buildings

The new guidance clearly states the cap of three new homes on the holding does not need to include existing residential properties within the established agricultural unit unless they were created by the use of permitted development rights on a previous occasion in which they would be counted.  This means that where, previously, a farm may have converted some barns to say holiday cottages or other residential dwellings and the Local Authority counted these towards the limit of three, a reapplication or appeal should be considered.

Whether a structure is suitable for conversion

Some Local Authorities, particularly Mid Devon, have been allowing applications for pole barns and other similar unsubstantial structures whereas other Athorities have been refusing applications because they consider the works necessary to change the barn into a dwelling go beyond that which could be considered conversion.  The new guidance gives some strength to the latter argument and concludes that “it is only where the existing building is structurally strong enough to take the loading which comes with the external works to provide for residential use that the building will be considered a permitted development right”.

If you have been previously considering an application or have had an application refused please contact Stags Professional Services on 01392 439046 or Mark Neason 01823 653424.