Changes to building and planning regulations introduced in April 2018 offer farmers the opportunity to either erect larger new farm buildings or convert redundant buildings to residential properties.
Under Permitted Development Rights (PDR) you can carry out some works without the need to apply for planning permission, and the recent changes open up the scope for such developments. PDR is a boon to farmers looking to improve and develop their business as it helps them get past the planning stage faster, and with less fuss and expense.
In the case of new buildings, it is now possible to erect agricultural buildings with a floor space of up to 1,000 square metres, more than double the previous limit of 465 square metres, without applying for planning permission. The government believes that this change will allow farmers to take advantage of ‘the latest innovations in modern farming practices’.
Provided you have the need for a bigger building, then there are additional cost advantages, as the cost per square foot of a smaller building is greater than that of a larger one. In the case of residential conversions, it is now possible to create up to five homes – an increase on the previous limit of three – by converting existing and/or redundant farm buildings to residential use.
It all depends on the size of the house, but here’s how it breaks down. You can create:
- up to five smaller houses, each no larger than 100 square metres;
- up to three larger houses, within a maximum of 465 square metres;
- a combination of large and small, to a maximum of five houses, of which no more than three can be larger homes.
With the much-discussed housing shortage, arguably a particular problem in rural areas, this seems a timely change to the regulations.
Having said that, it might be that a different form of conversion is better for you and your business – for example, converting redundant buildings to storage or office space, rather than residential use – so do explore all options, whether covered by PDR or not. And, of course, before undertaking any work you should check your specific rights under PDR, as there are exceptions, such as if you have listed buildings on your land.
Overall, however, whether you need more space for farming activities or have redundant buildings currently standing idle, this looks like a positive step that opens up opportunities for farmers while reducing the number of hoops they have to jump through to take advantage of them.
The relaxation of the rules is set to end in June 2019.