How we did it: Successful conversion of 3x barns to residential and ancillary uses in the green belt

conversion of 3 barns in countryside to residential housing and annexe

The conversion of barns to dwellings and associated ancillary buildings is not always straightforward, especially if you are in the green belt. Plainview recently submitted a multi-faceted application for the conversion and part-demolition of a group of 3 redundant barns. The application was ambitious given the number of barns involved and the variety of development sought. The Green Belt designation added a further layer of complication which needed to be mitigated appropriately.

Rural developments and conversions

The scheme sought the conversion of an existing farmyard to residential use through:

  •  the conversion of the main barn to a residential dwelling
  •  demolition of the second barn and replacement with a garage building
  •  and conversion of the third barn to an ancillary/incidental space.

Given the extent of the three barns, the planning history, site location and the variety of development sought, a robust planning strategy was crucial. We advised the applicant that in this instance it would be prudent to plan the site as a whole, rather than take a piecemeal approach via a Class Q conversion and separate subsequent applications. We therefore proposed that a full planning application should be submitted for the project in its entirety.

Planning permission for the conversion of a farmyard to residential use

Structural surveys are often the starting point for any barn conversion project – these are considered a standard part of the application to show that the existing building is fit for conversion without requiring the need for any substantial reconstruction works. These professional reports also allow planners to quantify the scale of the existing built form and use this as a basis for formulating the scale of any proposed buildings or conversions.

With a suitable 3rd party commissioned to undertake the structural survey evidencing that the barns were fit for conversion, we set about preparing a planning application which sought to explore the benefits of the proposals in light of several complex site designations.

Green belt designations and design in rural settings

The two key challenges were the green belt designation and the overall design, given the site’s rural setting.  As a general rule new development in the green belt is strongly resisted, therefore careful presentation of the facts and project vision, and ongoing dialogue with the case officer were key to navigating a way forwards on the project.

We evidenced how the proposals were compliant with local and national policies on green belt development; justified the need to partially demolish the barns; and identified how the proposed plans would in fact, reduce the overall bulk and mass of the built form on site and thus not negatively impact or impede the openness of the green belt but rather enable it to be preserved.

In terms of design, our planning team worked closely with the Case Officer to justify the design rationale and identify how the proposals would integrate well and have no detrimental impacts to the countryside setting and green belt land. We worked effectively across the project team to ensure that the design, layout and scale would meet the Council’s strict green belt guidelines and limitations, but also satisfy the personal requirements of the client to give them a workable volume of living space.

Key to the success of this application was the ongoing engagement and dialogue between our planning consultants and the case officer. These proposals sought to bring back into life three redundant buildings, which, without due care and attention would have swiftly become dilapidated. We are delighted that we were able to successfully evidence the benefits of this scheme and in so doing, continue to protect and enhance the site context.

How we can help you with your barn conversion

Plainview Planning has extensive knowledge and experience in negotiating planning permission for a variety of rural development schemes including the change of use of barns to residential dwellings (see here). The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) supports sustainable development and gives rural areas opportunities to convert agricultural buildings into residential dwellings.

However, whilst there is on-paper support for these types of development, it is important to note that planning is very much site specific and the site context, the condition of the barn, the planning history, local policies, national policies and your aspirations will have an impact.

If you are wanting professional advice on how to turn a redundant farm building into a residential dwelling or have other rural development aspirations, contact our team via or call us on 01242 501003 to see how we can best assist you, providing the site address and a brief overview of your project.  You can also submit your site via our Landmark Page. We value your privacy and any information which you provide will not be shared outside of our company and will only be used in relation to your enquiry.