Conversion of agricultural buildings to housi

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News article

Conversion of agricultural buildings to housing

March 2014

agricultural buildings
New changes to the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) allowing the change of use of agricultural buildings and land to residential comes into force on 6 April 2014. These changes will essentially bypass the need for full planning permission for conversions of agricultural buildings to residential use. 

What are the new changes?

The new changes allow for agricultural buildings up to 450m² and land within its curtilage to be converted to a maximum of three dwellings under prior approval, rather than the submission of a full planning application. The associated building operations necessary to convert the building to residential are also permitted. The changes do not allow for any increases to the external dimension of the existing building. If this is required, full planning permission will need to be obtained. 

How do I know if I comply? 

To comply, the site must have been used solely for agriculture on, or prior to 20 March 2013. If the site was brought back into use after 20 March 2013, it must be used solely for agricultural purposes for ten years before the date the development begins. 

What happens if I have erected a new agricultural building recently?

The new changes do not apply if the agricultural permitted development rights, for agricultural buildings and operations, have been utilised since 20 March 2013. If this is the case, a ten year period must elapse before the landowner can make use of the new changes.

What consent is required?

A prior approval application needs to be submitted to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) prior to any development commencing.  The LPA will then assess whether further information is required on the following:  
  • Transport and highways impact of the development
  • Noise impacts of the development
  • Contamination risks on the site
  • Flooding risk on the site
  • Whether the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to a residential dwelling
A prior approval application is also required for any building operations reasonably necessary to convert the building to a dwelling. The LPA will assess whether information is required in respect of the design and external appearance of the building. 
The permitted building operations include the installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs or exterior walls or water, drainage, electricity, gas or other services that are reasonably necessary for the building to function as a dwelling. Partial demolition is also permitted, where it is reasonably necessary to carry out the aforementioned building operations. 
If the LPA considers the proposals to lead to significant impacts, a full planning application can be requested. 

Are there exceptions to the new changes?

The new changes do not apply to sites located within National Parks, The Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Conservation Areas, World Heritage Sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, safety hazard areas or military explosives storage areas.  In addition, the changes do not apply where the site is, or contains, a scheduled monument or where the building is listed. Within the aforementioned areas, full planning permission, and listed building consent where relevant, will be required to convert agricultural buildings and land to residential.   
Whilst the changes are positive and are welcomed, the regulations are complex and will no doubt be interpreted in different ways by different LPAs. The Fisher German planning team can help landowners navigate the new system and provide detailed advice on your development. If you have any questions on the implications of the changes for you, please do contact a member of the Fisher German Planning Team on 01530 567460.
Click here to read a more detailed summary of the changes.
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