Unlocking the potential of farm buildings

Unlocking the potential of farm buildings

Many farmers will be familiar with ‘Class Q’ permitted development rights that allow the change of use of agricultural buildings to residential dwellings without the requirement to apply for full planning permission.  Perhaps less well known are ‘Class R’ permitted development rights that allow agricultural buildings to be used for a range of ‘flexible uses’ for business purposes without facing the complexity and cost of going through the full planning process,” says Brian Dinnis of Acorn Rural Property Consultants.

“Class R rights allow the change of use of agricultural buildings to a range of uses including Class A1 (shops), Class A2 (financial and professional services), Class A3 (restaurants and cafes), Class B1 (business), Class B8 (storage or distribution), Class C1 (hotels) or Class D2 (assembly and leisure) as long as a number of conditions can be met.

If the conditions are met, for buildings less than 150m2, the local planning authority must be notified of when the change of use will start, the nature of the use, and be provided with a plan showing the land and buildings that will change use. For buildings between 150m2 and 500m2, an application must be made to the authority to determine whether prior approval is required for transport impacts, noise impacts, contamination risk and flood risk, and the change of use cannot commence until the authority has confirmed that no prior approval is required, prior approval is given or 56 days have expired without the authority notifying whether prior approval is given or refused,” advises Dinnis.

“Most farms have buildings, ranging from traditional barns to steel framed structures, which are suitable for reuse for a variety of purposes, and the Class R rights provide enormous opportunity to make changes and diversify without going through the full planning process.  In addition to considering new projects, we have also found that the rights provide the opportunity to revisit proposals that have been stifled by planning authorities in the past.  For example, we have obtained approval using permitted development rights for a light industrial use where, prior to our involvement, the planning authority had expressed concerns about the change of use of the site.  We have also used the right as a stepping stone to obtaining planning permission for wider commercial facilities.  Unlike Class Q rights, Class R rights also apply in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks”, adds Dinnis.

For further information on any rural planning matter please contact Brian Dinnis on 01884 214052 or at briandinnis@acornrpc.co.uk.

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