Permission secured for barn conversion outside settlement boundary, in rural Essex 

barn at sunset for article on CLass Q and development outside settlement boundary

Is now the time to seek planning permission for sustainable developments outside the settlement boundary in Uttlesford? With only a 2.68-year housing land supply currently in evidence, the case officer feedback on a recent approval we secured for a barn conversion in rural Essex certainly seemed to suggest so.

Usually the focus of Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) is on development within the settlement boundary. However, in a bid to support rural communities and boost housing in these areas the revised NPPF, published in 2019, included policy which is less restrictive in its approach to development in the countryside and rural areas.

Such development needs to be responsive to local needs and circumstances, seek to maintain or enhance the vitality of rural communities and should avoid the creation of isolated homes and/or sporadic development in the countryside.

Securing planning consent for a barn conversion to residential dwelling

In this instance, our client was seeking to convert a dilapidated barn to residential use. The first port of call with a barn conversion, is to explore whether Class Q Permitted Development Rights (PDR) apply. There are several qualifying factors which need to be met in order to determine this.  These include:

  • cumulative floor space limitations;
  • whether material changes or extensions to the barn structure to facilitate the C3 use are required;
  • proximity to or location within certain designations such as SSSI, listed buildings etc.
  • whether or not the site was previously in agricultural use;
  • analysis as to whether Prior Approval will need to be sought from the LPA.

How we helped our client secure permission for a residential development outside the settlement boundary

Following a site appraisal, we identified that the barn wouldn’t benefit from PDR. We therefore set about preparing an application for its conversion to a residential dwelling, evidencing the sustainable qualities of the project despite its location in rural countryside and outside the settlement boundary.  Evidence which supported our application included:

  • supporting surveyors note to confirm that the barn was deemed structurally sound and capable of conversion;
  • we drew on case law and appeal precedents to evidence why the site could not be classed as isolated in this context;
  • justified how and why the proposals would make efficient use of an existing redundant structure and couldn’t be classed as overdevelopment of the site;
  • provided a design commentary, presenting the planning evidence as to why the proposals would not encroach on the countryside and how the design sought to integrate effectively with the surrounding rural aesthetic;
  • analysis relating to the current 5YHLS position and need, and the benefit of this type of development in response to that;
  • mitigation measures to overcome any issues in relation to sustainable transport.

We worked effectively with the planning team at Uttlesford and were delighted with the final positive outcome, which gave planning approval for the conversion.  Furthermore, the officers report identified that sustainable development outside settlement boundaries may continue to be required to ensure a robust and continuous supply of housing in the district.

We are very experienced in this area of planning and given our recent experience with Uttlesford Council, if you are seeking planning consultant support for a development project in this area then 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.

IMAGE SOURCE: Adobe Spark 2020