“As readers of our previous articles will be aware, much has been said about the detail needed in submitting an application under the different classes of permitted development rights to maximise the chance of obtaining approval. Two recent enquiries that we have received regarding enforcement investigations on sites being developed under Class Q and its predecessor right, Class MB, for the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential use, serve as important reminders about the pitfalls to avoid once consent has been obtained,” says Brian Dinnis of Acorn Rural Property Consultants.
Dinnis explains that, as with Class Q, Class MB was in two parts. MB(a) provided consent for the change of use and MB(b) provided consent for the building works that were reasonably necessary to convert the building.
The first enquiry was from a developer who had purchased a group of agricultural buildings with a Class MB consent. He had commenced the conversion works. It was a large scheme and the cost was considerable. He then received a visit from the local planning authority enforcement officer. What the developer and his advisers had failed to spot was that the buildings only had Class MB(a) consent for change of use but no MB(b) consent for the conversion works.
“The conversion works are therefore unauthorised and, because the work has already commenced, there are no further permitted development rights under Class MB or Class Q that can be used to complete the conversion. Further, as the buildings are in a location where residential development would not otherwise be permitted, there are no other planning policies that can be used to rescue the position”, advises Dinnis.
The second enquiry was from a husband and wife on a smallholding who had obtained a Class Q consent to convert an agricultural building to a house for themselves. They had invested the entirety of their savings into the property and were part way through the building works when the enforcement officer arrived. By that stage, they had demolished the original building and put up a new steel frame, without going outside the envelope of the original building. They therefore thought that they were operating within the Class Q rules. All that remained of the previous building was a section of block wall and part of the concrete floor slab.
“Class Q permitted development rights only allow for the installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs, exterior walls, water, drainage, electricity, gas or other services to the extent reasonably necessary to enable a building to function as a dwellinghouse; and partial demolition to the extent reasonably necessary to carry out these building operations. They do not allow for demolition and re-building and, devastatingly for the owners, what they have done is unauthorised and they no longer have an approval or any realistic prospect of obtaining an approval for a dwelling on their properties”, says Dinnis.
For further information on any rural planning matters please contact Brian Dinnis on 01884 214052 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.