Conversion of Agricultural Buildings into Dwellings

The Government is making it easier to convert agricultural buildings into residential dwellings. It has introduced amendments to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (‘the GPDO’), in respect of the permitted change of use from agricultural buildings to dwellinghouses. From 6th April 2018, up to five dwellinghouses can be created through the use of Class Q of Part 3 of Schedule 2 of the GPDO, in an attempt to boost the supply of housing in rural areas. (Previously, a maximum of three dwellinghouses could be created).

Within the amendments, the Government has introduced two types of dwellinghouse; namely ‘larger dwellinghouses’ and ‘smaller dwellinghouses’. Larger dwellinghouses have a floor space of more than 100 square metres and no more than 465 square metres, whilst smaller dwellinghouses have a floor space of no more than 100 square metres.

The amended Class Q allows for up to three larger dwellinghouses to be developed where the cumulative floor space does not exceed 465 square metres; or up to five smaller dwellinghouses of no more than 100 square metres each. The amended Class Q will allow for a mixture of both larger and smaller dwellinghouses to be developed, as long as the number of dwellinghouses and the amount of floor space complies with the restrictions set out in Class Q. For example, a large dwellinghouse with a floor space of 465 square metres could be developed in addition to four smaller dwellinghouses each with a floor space of 100 square metres.

In addition, the Planning Practice Guidance (‘PPG’) associated with the conversion of agricultural buildings to dwellinghouses has been updated (made wider) to allow for appropriate internal works, including structural works such as internal walls and mezzanine or upper floors. It remains the case that it is not the intention of the legislation to allow for ‘rebuilding’ – beyond what is reasonably necessary for the conversion of the building into residential use.

If a proposed conversion does not fall within Class Q permitted development rights, there is still the option to prepare an application for express planning permission instead.

Whatever the circumstances, if you have an agricultural building that you think may be suitable for conversion, please do contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

John Pearce MRTPI, Planner