Update on Class Q barn conversions
Up to 5 new dwellings can be created from existing agricultural buildings on a farm instead of the maximum of 3 previously permitted

Update on Class Q barn conversions

“Changes to planning rules come into force on 6 April 2018 that will increase the number of dwellings that it will be possible to develop under the Class Q permitted development right to five on each established agricultural unit”, says Brian Dinnis of Acorn Rural Property Consultants.

The cumulative number of dwellings that it has been possible to create under the right has been limited to three. The total floor area changing use within each established unit has also been limited to 450 square metres.  To help make the best use of existing agricultural buildings to meet housing needs, Class Q has been amended to allow:

a) up to three larger dwellings; or
b) up to five smaller dwellings; or
c) a combination of larger and smaller dwellings of which the number of larger dwellings cannot exceed three and the total number of dwellings cannot exceed five on each established agricultural unit.

The Order defines a larger dwelling as one developed under Class Q which has a floor space of more than 100 square metres and no more than 465 square metres. A smaller dwelling is defined as one developed under Class Q which has a floor space of 100 square metres or less.  The Order states that the cumulative floor area changing use to create larger dwellings must not exceed 465 square metres.

“The amendments provide a welcome extension of Class Q and increase the options for farmers who have not used the right to date.  Opportunities may also exist for farmers who have already converted buildings using Class Q and have additional buildings that are suitable for conversion to residential use”, explains Dinnis. “Class Q, however, still does not apply to National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Conservation Areas and World Heritage sites, which will be a disappointment to farmers who were hoping that Government would revisit that restriction”, adds Dinnis.

For further information on Class Q permitted development or any other rural planning matter please contact Brian Dinnis at Acorn Rural Property Consultants on 01884 214052 or at briandinnis@acornrpc.co.uk.  Brian is always pleased to speak to old or new clients and contacts alike at any time.  All conversations are entirely confidential, and he does not charge for having a chat on the telephone.

The revisions to Class Q are part of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2018.  It can be accessed here.  For ease of reference, we have also set out below a consolidated version of Class Q that includes the amendments made by the Order:

Class Q agricultural buildings to dwellinghouses

Permitted development

Q. Development consisting of—

a) a change of use of a building and any land within its curtilage from a use as an agricultural building to a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order; or
b) development referred to in paragraph (a) together with building operations reasonably necessary to convert the building referred to in paragraph (a) to a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of that Schedule.

Development not permitted

Q.1 Development is not permitted by Class Q if—

a) the site was not used solely for an agricultural use as part of an established agricultural unit—

(i) on 20th March 2013, or
(ii) in the case of a building which was in use before that date but was not in use on that date, when it was last in use, or
(iii) in the case of a site which was brought into use after 20th March 2013, for a period of at least 10 years before the date development under Class Q begins;

b) in the case of—

(i) a larger dwellinghouse, within an established agricultural unit—

(aa) the cumulative number of separate larger dwellinghouses developed under Class Q exceeds 3; or
(bb) the cumulative floor space of the existing building or buildings changing use to a larger dwellinghouse or dwellinghouses under Class Q exceeds 465 square metres;

c) in the case of—

(i) a smaller dwellinghouse, within an established agricultural unit—

(aa) the cumulative number of separate smaller dwellinghouses developed under Class Q exceeds 5; or
(bb) the floor space of any one separate smaller dwellinghouse having a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order exceeds 100 square metres;

d) the development under Class Q (together with any previous development under Class Q) within an established agricultural unit would result in either or both of the following—

(i) a larger dwellinghouse or larger dwellinghouses having more than 465 square metres of floor space having a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order;
(ii) the cumulative number of separate dwellinghouses having a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order exceeding 5;

e) the site is occupied under an agricultural tenancy, unless the express consent of both the landlord and the tenant has been obtained;

f) less than 1 year before the date development begins—

(i) an agricultural tenancy over the site has been terminated, and
(ii) the termination was for the purpose of carrying out development under Class Q, unless both the landlord and the tenant have agreed in writing that the site is no longer required for agricultural use;

g) development under Class A(a) or Class B(a) of Part 6 of this Schedule (agricultural buildings and operations) has been carried out on the established agricultural unit—

(i) since 20th March 2013; or
(ii) where development under Class Q begins after 20th March 2023, during the period which is 10 years before the date development under Class Q begins;

h) the development would result in the external dimensions of the building extending beyond the external dimensions of the existing building at any given point;

i) the development under Class Q(b) would consist of building operations other than—

(i) the installation or replacement of—
(aa) windows, doors, roofs, or exterior walls, or
(bb) water, drainage, electricity, gas or other services,
to the extent reasonably necessary for the building to function as a dwellinghouse; and
(ii) partial demolition to the extent reasonably necessary to carry out building operations allowed by paragraph Q.1(i)(i);

j) the site is on article 2(3) land;

k) the site is, or forms part of—

(i) a site of special scientific interest;
(ii) a safety hazard area;
(iii) a military explosives storage area;

l) the site is, or contains, a scheduled monument; or

m) the building is a listed building.

Conditions

Q.2 — (1) Where the development proposed is development under Class Q(a) together with development under Class Q(b), development is permitted subject to the condition that before beginning the development, the developer must apply to the local planning authority for a determination as to whether the prior approval of the authority will be required as to—

a) transport and highways impacts of the development,
b) noise impacts of the development,
c) contamination risks on the site,
d) flooding risks on the site,
e) whether the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order, and
f) the design or external appearance of the building, and the provisions of paragraph W (prior approval) of this Part apply in relation to that application.

(2) Where the development proposed is development under Class Q(a) only, development is permitted subject to the condition that before beginning the development, the developer must apply to the local planning authority for a determination as to whether the prior approval of the authority will be required as to the items referred to in sub-paragraphs (1)(a) to (e) and the provisions of paragraph W (prior approval) of this Part apply in relation to that application.

(3) Development under Class Q is permitted subject to the condition that development under Class Q(a), and under Class Q(b), if any, must be completed within a period of 3 years starting with the prior approval date.

Interpretation of Class Q

Q.3. For the purposes of Class Q—

“larger dwellinghouse” means a dwellinghouse developed under Class Q which has a floor space of more than 100 square metres and no more than 465 square metres having a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order;

“smaller dwellinghouse” means a dwellinghouse developed under Class Q which has a floor space of no more than 100 square metres having a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order.

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