Planning changes relaxing the rules over converting agricultural buildings into homes will be good news for farmers and landowners, according to planning expert Suzanne Tucker.
Housing Minister Dominic Raab MP last week announced additional measures aimed at addressing a shortage of housing in rural communities.
Suzanne, an Associate with the Town & Country Planning Team at FBC Manby Bowdler, said under existing Permitted Development regulations, only three dwellings can be created from the conversion of agricultural buildings, with a 450 sq m limit on the total floor space.
“However the changes to be introduced on April 6 will allow the creation of up to three larger dwellings within a maximum overall floor space of 465 square metres; or the creation of up to five smaller dwellings each no larger than 100 square metres, or a mixture of both, with a maximum of 5 dwellings, of which no more than 3 may be larger dwellings.
“The detail of the new rules has now been published and the ‘mixture’ option allows, say, 3 units of 155 square metres each, plus two units of 100 square metres each, giving a total floor space of 665 square metres of development, but they also allow 4 smaller units of 100 square metres each plus one large unit of 465 square metres, ie they facilitate a conversion of a building of up to 865 sq metres.
“Undoubtedly the relaxation will go some way to addressing the rural housing shortage and will facilitate the easier release of some larger barn conversion projects through permitted development, which currently have to go through full planning procedures.”
However, Suzanne warned that the new regulations do not address existing difficulties such as councils being inconsistent in their interpretation of some aspects of the Permitted Development Order.
“For example there are inconsistencies between councils as to what building operations are ‘reasonably necessary’ for the conversion. We can assist with appeals where an application for change of use has been rejected by the council, or in vetting applications before submission to check compliance."