Using permitted development rights to convert barns to residential use

Some good news for the rural economy has been announced – in August 2013, the Government published a consultation document titled ‘Greater flexibilities for change of use’ that proposes to allow the conversions of existing barns and other agricultural buildings to residential use by extending permitted development rights. They have included limited physical alterations within this proposed policy change.

If this proposal comes in to force, then there will be great scope of the development of under-used rural buildings to bring them back into a meaningful and profitable use.

As with proposals of this type, there are a number of limitations that have been suggested. These include:

  • A maximum of 3 dwellings can be created in a single rural building;
  • The building must have been in agricultural use prior to 20th March 2013.
  • Each dwelling would have an upper floor area threshold of 150 sq m;
  • Only limited physical development would be allowed to enable the conversion;
  • Prior approval would need to be sought for siting and design to ensure physical development complies with local plan policies on design, materials and outlook;
  • Prior approval would need to be sought for transport and highways impact, noise impact, contamination and flooding risks;
  • The proposed permitted development rights would apply in areas such as conservation areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Broads and World Heritage sites.