Farming is under pressure and farm incomes are dropping. The coalition government in the run up to the last election extended permitted development rights for farmers and landowners to allow the residential use of farm buildings. This change was granted to help support farmers and their families by providing new homes for farming families and new sources of income and increased capital values. It also forms part of the government’s growth agenda where the shortage of houses in rural as well as urban areas is holding back jobs, growth and the aspirations of many would-be home owners.
The rights set out in Class Q of the General Permitted Development Order 2015, allow the change of use of any agricultural building or vacant agricultural building into a dwelling and the works necessary to make it habitable (including new walls and a new roof). The building must be agricultural (not equestrian, therefore not stables) and it must be on an established agricultural holding. The new rights allow up to 450sqm of buildings to be used to create up to 3 homes. These rules do not apply in the Peak Park or in conservation areas. The rules relate to the use of an existing building (you cannot wholly demolished it and start again) so for hay barns and most steel or concrete framed buildings the shape and materials require a modern contemporary design and approach.
To obtain consent from the Council there is a formal application process which requires the submission of drawings showing how the buildings will be converted. The Council can only consider access, noise, contamination, flooding and the practicality and suitability of the change of use. The application does not require a protected species report and affordable housing and other planning related costs (e.g. Section 106) do not apply. Class Q provides a right to convert so neighbours cannot object to the principle of development. One big difference from a normal planning permission is that building works must be completed within 3 years.
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