Permitted development rights boost growth in ‘agritecture’ in England

Several hundred new homes each year created through conversion of agricultural buildings

11 April 2018

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The UK Government has announced a further relaxation of Class Q Permitted Development Rights for agricultural buildings in England to boost housing supply in rural areas. Under the new rules, farmers may convert up to five agricultural buildings into family homes, subject to some controls and limitations, whereas previously legislation allowed for the conversion of only three buildings.

The amended right allows for either: up to three larger homes with a maximum of 465 sq m; up to five smaller homes with a maximum of 100 sq m; or a mix of both, with a total of no more than five homes, of which up to three may be larger homes. No equivalent Permitted Development Rights for agricultural buildings exist in Wales at the present time.

UK Housing Minister Dominic Raab said, “I’m changing planning rules so rural communities have more flexibility on how best to use existing buildings to deliver more much needed homes for families.”  The UK Government said that in England several hundred new homes each year are created through conversions of agricultural buildings, and these changes are expected to boost the numbers further. Applicants will also have an extra year in which to benefit from the temporary permitted development right to convert storage and distribution buildings into residential use up until 10 June 2018.

Chris Hyde, Associate Director with Cooke & Arkwright’s Land Agency said, “The extension of the existing rule in England is sure to be very welcome. The Permitted Development Rights have given rise to a lot of interesting developments and so-called ‘agritecture’ is on the rise. Buildings that would previously never have been considered for conversion, such as non-descript steel-portal-framed buildings and even grain silos, are being converted into modern residences that blend in well with their surroundings.

“The Welsh Government has yet to implement any similar rights this side of the Severn, and it is not a given that they will.  However, we do know that many of our clients would embrace such a move. There are numerous barns and outbuildings on farms that have fallen into disuse and decay of which good use could be made. It would be one way to help to boost the rural economy, encouraging the creation of smaller starter homes as affordable housing for local people or farm workers, or for use as retirement homes for example.”