Barn Conversions


Changing farming methods and equipment has meant that necessity for larger modern barns. However, this has left a number of unused agricultural buildings which may or may not still form part of the farming enterprise. Instead of demolishing them or allowing them to fall down there is another option that provides a healthy revenue source. Conversion of the buildings into residential housing or commercial units for sale or renting are attractive options.

Redundant steel framed, timber or brick built barns can be converted into beautiful, modern, exciting and, of course, valuable assets. To create a liveable or workable internal space it is usually necessary to introduces 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?

Typically 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 for development. This is often pleasantly surprising option for our clients. Although 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 that 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 and conversions can lead to an important economic boost for the farmstead. However, undertaken poorly can lead to no development being able to take place.

View further information resources here

What is the process for this type of application?

Read about the planning process here

What are the main issues that need to be overcome?

Principle of the proposal – agricultural building conversion

We have to firstly make sure the Local Planning Authority are happy with the proposal in principle, asking the question - does the development meet local and national planning policy? As well as the principle, there are lots of other factors that come into planning for agricultural building conversion:

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

Other factors have to be thought very carefully about:

  • Design
  • Materials
  • Scale
  • Use
  • Siting
  • Drainage

How The Rural Planning Co can help

We LOVE getting involved with exciting new equestrian projects like this, and helping you along the journey to bringing your personal aspirations or business plans and dreams to fruition. With many years specialising in this sector, we believe that engaging an experienced and proactive consultant can reduce the stress, time and cost of the process and above all gives you the best chance of success.

Read our pricing here

Read about the planning process here

Read ‘how we work’ here

Read about us here

Find case studies here

Here are some links to more business help on The Business Barn website.

Our other business Moule & Co specialises in rural professional consultancy and can help with grants and business plans.