A number of changes to existing Permitted Development Rights.

These concern the change of use of agricultural buildings to residential (Class Q) and commercial (Class R), and there are increases in the allowances for new agricultural buildings (Part 6 Class A and Class B). These follow from a consultation by the Department of Levelling up, Housing and Communities in Summer 2023.

The use of PD rights to convert buildings is worth considering if looking to maximise the value of rural property, as part of a strategy to build business resilience through the generation of a rental income stream or to raise capital which can be invested elsewhere. The creation of new homes also helps to address the shortage in rural housing which can be a barrier to growth for some rural businesses.

Agricultural building

What’s changing with Class Q?

There are several changes affecting the use of Class Q PD rights, which allow for agricultural buildings to be changed to residential. Class Q rights were first introduced in 2014 and have been a valuable tool for landowners to convert old barns, sheds and grain stores without needing to apply for full planning permission.

There is an extension of Class Q to cover former agricultural buildings which are no longer part of an established agricultural unit. This will give farmers and landowners the opportunity to convert outlying buildings which has previously been against the rules. The requirement for buildings to have been used solely for agricultural use has also been removed in instances where that building is part of an established agricultural unit.

It will now also allow the creation of up to ten dwellings with a maximum cumulative floor space of 1,000m2 (previously the number of dwellings was limited to five with a maximum floor space of 865m2).

However, there has been a reduction in the maximum floor space for any one property. Previously, it had been possible to have one property with a floor space of up to 465m2, but a maximum limit of 150m2 has been introduced for any of the houses created.

Other changes include allowing a single-storey rear extension of up to 4m to be added to a building as part of the change of use. There are conditions, such as the extension must be located on an existing hard surface, but this should open up new opportunities for smaller buildings to be converted.

Transitional arrangements will allow a property owner who would prefer to apply under the old Class Q guidelines to do so until the end of 20 May 2025.

Class Q developments will still need to be completed within 3 years of prior approval.

The new rules also make it clear that they prohibit the conversion of a building without an existing suitable access to a public highway.

Have there been any other recent changes to PD rights?

Class MA permits the change of use of commercial, business and service buildings to dwellings. From 5 March 2024, it has been the case that the commercial building no longer needs to have been vacant for three months before applying and that the limit on the floor space to be converted has been removed (it was previously 1,500m2). However, other requirements and exclusions remain and should be checked as part of the assessment of whether a building is suitable for change of use. 

What about other recent planning changes?

From 25 April 2024 the time limit for local planning authorities to bring enforcement action following a breach of planning controls for residential cases has been extended from four to ten years to match other types of enforcement.


Read more: https://farming.co.uk/news/new-rights-could-make-barn-conversions-more-straightforward-


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