It has been a year of uncertainty and frustration for farmers, planners and agents alike, as all tried to steer a course through the new Permitted Development Rights legislation that allowed the conversion of qualifying barns into dwellings.
Written legislation was very brief and differed from consultation documents, making life difficult for developers and decision makers. Carver Knowles Planning expert, Julie Branfield explains; “The aim of the policy is to create more rural housing, but at the same time, being careful not to create lone, isolated dwellings.”

As well as satisfying these social elements, the building must tick several qualifying criteria:

  • Used as part of a farm business on 20th March 2013,
  • Not within a flood zone,
  • Structurally sound,
  • Create no more than 450 square metres of residential floor space,
  • Capable of conversion to residential use, and
  • Not contaminated with any oil or diesel spills.

Recent additional government guidance has been issued to confirm some of the key points muddied by Planning Inspectors at Appeal. The issues covered in the guidance include the 3 dwelling rule and the position with regard to sustainability for isolated barns. This additional guidance may make some refusals worth challenging. This guidance has now been converted into the  2015 General Permitted Development order and is now referred to as Class Q rather than the previous Class MB.

Planning was sought for the Cook family in Bricklehampton to convert an existing range of traditional barns to provide two dwellings to allow both sons to move out of the family home but stay on hand for the operation of the farming business. A careful assessment of the range of buildings had to be made to ensure the conversion didn’t exceed the 450 m2 footprint limit.

Andy Cook says; “The traditional barns are no longer needed in the modern sheep enterprise that we run. My brother and I would like to move out but don’t want to go too far from the farm, so this proposal made perfect sense.”

During the planning process the council sought additional information on the historic use of the buildings to ensure they were free of contamination and also a Bat survey. Both of these requests were fulfilled within the given timeframe and consent was granted on the 56th day in accordance with the legislation.

“We are now looking to discharge the conditions and get started on the works as soon as possible.”

The Carver Knowles planning team can help all farmers across Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire with an application for a barn conversion whether it be a steel portal framed building or a building of traditional construction. We also have trusted contractors that are on hand to provide the additional technical reports as necessary.


If you have a barn that you think is suitable for conversion or it you have applied once and been refused please get in touch.