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Permitted Development for Agricultural Conversion Class Q

Friday, 15 December 2017 14:55

Permitted Development for Agricultural Conversion Class Q Acorus

Permitted development rights which permit farmers to erect agricultural buildings, construct roadways and undertake what can sometimes be large and intrusive developments outside normal planning laws, have existed for a long time.

In April 2014 planning regulations were changed to enable an existing agricultural building, usually a barn, to be converted into up to three houses without the need to apply for planning permission.

This was an extension of those permitted rights which already existed and called Class MB.

The argument justifying this was based on the reasoning that old traditional barns no longer had a relevant use in an agricultural context and these conversions would help address the rural housing shortage.

However the large number of Permitted Development applications for conversions since the regulations were changed concern not only historic rural buildings but ordinary modern agricultural barns.  The attractiveness of these buildings is obvious to land agents who can take advantage of the relaxed regulations and tempt landowners to create a valuable dwelling that can be sold on.  The problem is that it may very well be in a highly unsuitable location in the middle of the countryside and distant from any settlement or village.

The planning authority still has to receive formal “prior notification” which allows them to determine whether what is proposed would qualify as a conversion or whether it is a new build.  In the latter case a planning permission has to be applied for in the normal way.

Since the introduction of the new Class MB/Q it has been argued that it establishes the principle of residential development on a site, creating a “fall-back” position.  This can then form the basis of a subsequent full planning application to try and expand on permitted development rights often exploiting a site by achieving development that is not within the rules of the permitted development right.  Mixed result have been achieved by those who have taken this approach as different views are held by different Local Planning Authorities.  In Wiltshire there have been applications in three different areas.

There is a list of conditions which must be met if the development is to be permitted and the authority must take into account transport and highways implications, noise impact, contamination and flooding risks.  

Many describe this as encouraging the erosion of the countryside by creating random houses of design and external appearance not in keeping with the agricultural character of the area around them.



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