Extension of permitted development rights for change of use of agricultural buildings to residential use


Posted by Caroline Lindon-Morris, 15th May 2018
Farmers and rural estate owners wishing to diversify their revenue streams by converting derelict, or redundant farm buildings into habitable units to be sold on the open market, or for lettings to residential tenants, will welcome recent changes to permitted development rights under class Q which came into force on 6 April 2018.

Under the new rules up to 5 new homes are now allowed (up from 3 new homes) with an increase in the overall permitted floor area for the new homes. The details of the changes are explained in this article by our planning and agricultural experts.

A number of changes to permitted development rights under planning law came into force on 6 April 2018. Notably, existing permitted development rights for agricultural land have been expanded to increase the number of residential dwellinghouses that can be converted from buildings used for agricultural purposes.

The 2015 General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) grants deemed planning permission for certain types of development.

Class Q of the GDPO permits the change of use of an agricultural building and any land within its curtilage forming part of an established agricultural unit to use as a residential dwellinghouse. Permitted development rights under class Q are subject to certain conditions and limitations including the number of residential dwellinghouses that can be created.

The changes made by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2018 to permitted development rights in England include increasing the number of residential dwellinghouses permitted under class Q within an established agricultural unit from a total maximum of 3 to a total maximum of 5.
The existing limit on the amount of floor space that may be converted to residential use is also extended from 450m2 to 465m2.

New concepts of smaller dwellinghouses (having less than 100m2 of floor space) and larger dwellinghouses (with floor space of between 100m2 and 465m2) have also been introduced.

The new rules allow for:

  • Up to 3 larger dwellinghouses with a maximum cumulative residential floor space of 465m2; or
  • Up to 5 smaller dwellinghouses; or
  • A mix of up to 5 larger and smaller dwellinghouses (provided that no more than 3 are larger dwellinghouses and the maximum cumulative total of residential floor space does not exceed 465m2).

These permitted development rights are subject to obtaining prior approval from the local planning authority. The rules on what information is required to be included in an application for prior approval under class Q have also been changed to reflect these changes.

The further expansion of permitted development rights is intended to reduce the cost and administrative burden of low impact development. This should help to encourage small scale residential developments which will increase the number of houses being built and made available to meet local housing needs in rural areas.

This widening of permitted development rights under class Q also benefits rural landowners because the burden of planning costs associated with these projects is reduced by the increased scope of the permitted development.

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