Changing farming methods and equipment has created the necessity for larger, modern barns. This can leave a number of unused agricultural buildings which may not form part of the farming enterprise. Instead of demolishing them or allowing them to fall into disrepair, they can provide a healthy source of revenue. Conversion into residential housing or commercial units to sell or rent are attractive options.

Redundant steel framed or brick built barns can be converted into beautiful, modern, valuable assets. To create a liveable or workable internal space it is usually necessary to introduce new walls, roofing, windows and doors. Alternatively, it may be vital to work with the existing fabric (particularly if the building is listed) so long as the original structure is strong enough to take the load of the conversion.

Is planning permission required?

There are two approaches to achieving such a conversion - full planning permission or prior notification. The second method permits conversions of redundant agricultural buildings to residential (known as Class Q) and flexible business use (known as Class R).

The prior notification route offers a faster, cheaper and less complex route for development. It is important to note that there are a number of criteria to adhere to under the prior notification, with some not being particularly clear. As such it can be confusing as to what detail needs to be submitted and which should be left out. In our experience, each local authority brings its own interpretation of the regulations governing prior notification conversions. These can be quite flexible and allow for changes to those that stick to the letter of the regulations. Even seemingly small details such as guttering can be problematic and lead to delays. Still, the possibilities are certainly exciting.

If the option of prior approval is not open to your proposal it is worth considering the full planning permission route. While this arguably allows for greater flexibility there are different risks to be considered.

Tackled correctly, barn conversions can lead to an important economic boost for the farmstead. However, undertaken poorly can lead to no development being able to take place.

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Class Q Scope and Opportunities

Farm Permitted Development recap

What are the main factors to consider?

  • Likelihood of flooding
  • Highways safety and impact
  • Landscape and visual impact
  • Impact on public rights of way
  • Impact on designations such as Green Belt or AONBs
  • Noise impact
  • Neighbour amenity
  • Ecology

Other factors to consider include Design, Materials, Scale, Use, Siting and Drainage.

Budget: For a Class Q or full barn conversion you should be budgeting £3500 to £4500 for the planning consultant. On top of this you need to account for surveys and drawings which will cost between £2750 and over £6750. Total budget between £6500 and £10500.

Timescale: Estimate 6 to 12 months

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