barn in field

The laws around change of use for agricultural buildings  is something that can appear at times hazy – particularly after the amendments that were made to the Permitted Development Rights in 2014. The changes mean that it is now possible to convert an existing agricultural building, such as a barn, without the need to explicitly apply for planning permission. However, this does not mean by any stretch that there are no rules regarding creating a barn conversion, and instead of planning permission a prior notification clause was introduced.

An individual must apply to the local planning authority (LPA) before the development begins to determine whether the prior approval of the LPA is needed. The LPA decide this based on the building in respect of the following factors:

  • Transport
  • Noise Impact
  • Flood Risk
  • Contamination
  • Whether the location makes it impractical or undesirable for the agricultural building to become residential.
  • The building must be capable of functioning as a dwelling without serious structural changes.

The individual will also need to check whether the prior approval of the LPA is needed regarding the external appearance and design of the building.

Although this is the main clause that has replaced the need for actual planning permission in recent years, there are also a number of other regulations that you must abide by if you want to convert an agricultural building into a dwelling.

  • The site of the building must have been used solely for agricultural purposes.
  • Newly built barns are not permitted to be converted. The barn must have existed by March 20, 2013.
  • New barns can eventually be converted into dwellings, but they must have been used solely for agricultural purposes for at least 10 years.
  • The total floorspace of the area you can convert must be no more than 450m². If the barn is bigger than this, you’ll only be able to convert this amount of it.
  • The 450m² can be separated into a maximum of three separate dwellings.
  • If the site is subject to tenancy, the landowner must have the consent of their tenants.

Although the building must be able to function as a dwelling without needing major building work, what is considered ‘reasonable building operations’ are permitted. This includes the installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs, exterior walls, water, drainage, electricity, gas or other services to the extent that is necessary for the building to function as a dwelling, including partial demolition to enable the changes listed above.

Although there have been significant changes made to the laws that surround barn conversions, it is always advisable to check your plans thoroughly with the LPA before any major proceedings.

If you have any questions about a barn conversion project and would like some friendly advice, please contact GB Dibden today by clicking here.