Barn conversions
Permitted development and structural alterations (part 1)

Barn conversions

“The permitted development rights that allow the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential dwellings have received a lot of attention since they were introduced during April 2014.  Much has been talked about the detail needed in submitting an application to maximise the chance of obtaining approval, but little has been said about the pitfalls to avoid once consent has be obtained” says Brian Dinnis of Acorn Rural Property Consultants.

Dinnis explains that the rights allow for the installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs, exterior walls, water, drainage, electricity, gas or other services to the extent reasonably necessary for a building to function as a dwelling house; and partial demolition to the extent reasonably necessary to carry out these building operations.  Planning guidance is also clear that the existing building must be structurally sound and capable of conversion without any new structural works being required for the permitted development rights to apply.

“In practice the rules mean if a building that benefits from an approval collapses during the course of building works and substantial rebuilding is required then there will no longer be an approval in place.  The same principle applies for conversion schemes permitted under the full planning regime where planning policies usually only allow change of use if the building is capable of conversion without substantial rebuilding”, says Dinnis.

At a time when many residential conversions will be underway, Dinnis stresses the importance of protecting and ensuring the stability of existing structures during conversion work to reduce the risk of an event occurring that would nullify an approval.  “The problem with a collapsed building doesn’t just end with a void approval.  In many cases it can also leave only a limited prospect of obtaining planning permission to reconstruct the building as a dwelling because any further application would be assessed against policies that apply to new build dwellings, which require special justification in the open countryside” adds Dinnis.

For advice rural planning matters please contact Brian Dinnis at Acorn Rural Property Consultants on 01278 772655 or at briandinnis@acornrpc.co.uk.  Brian is a Chartered Surveyor and an associate member of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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