Planning permission for barn conversions

The change of use of agricultural buildings such as barns to residential use is a long established practice however over recent years many local authorities have increased the policy burden on would-be planning applicants, making the planning process more complicated and frustrating for farmers and landowners. The Government has recognised that there is a need to simplify aspects of the planning system to support sustainable development, promote diversification and increase prosperity in rural areas.

Through the National Planning Policy Framework, the Government has stripped back the policy burden introduced by various local authorities and stated that local authorities should allow planning applications for the re-use of redundant or disused buildings within rural areas for residential use and other alternative uses where this would lead to an enhancement to the immediate setting. From the 27 March 2013, local planning policies that conflict with this requirement will carry limited weight in decision making.

The Government is also proposing further changes to make the change of use of rural buildings to alternative uses easier by allowing this change through permitted development. In July 2012, the Government published a consultation paper titled ‘New opportunities for sustainable development and growth through the reuse of existing buildings’ that proposes to convert old barns for new commercial purposes, such as, farm shops, leisure facilities, and offices without the need for planning permission and in so doing allowing farmers and landowners to find new uses for disused barns and agricultural buildings on their farms and estates. This change in permitted development would not apply to a residential conversion. Whilst, this is still only a consultation statement, it does provide a strong steer on the Government’s intent to support farmers and rural communities through a simplified planning system.

Plainview Planning has extensive experience in negotiating planning  permission for a variety of rural development schemes including the change of use of barns to residential use  and other rural diversification projects.

If you would like to discuss the prospect of maximising the value and use of your farm or estate through the conversion of existing rural buildings to an alternative use, please contact one of our planners, either by email to, or call one of our regional offices.