During the 1980’s and 1990’s there were excellent grants around for converting barns to holiday cottages as a method of farm diversification. Planning laws also encouraged the re-use of barns for tourism enterprises as well so many barns were converted across England. If this was you and you have been managing a single holiday cottage or a whole complex for the last 20-30 years you are probably looking to take a step back or lighten the load a little.

To remove a holiday occupancy condition it is likely that an application needs to be made to the Local Planning Authority for their approval. This will need to be supported by a robust reasoning as to why it is more sustainable to remove the condition than keep it in place. In order to work this out we refer to our friend the National Planning Policy Framework.

The introduction of the framework and additional Planning Policy guidance removed the need to consider a hierarchy of re-uses when looking at improving agricultural barns. This hierarchy used to encourage alternative agricultural use in the first instance, following by commercial and industrial uses, tourism uses and if all the above failed then it may be possible to create a dwelling. As this step by step process has gone the application relies on the three arms of sustainability in that the change of use must provide environmental, social and economic roles.

We recently successfully removed the holiday occupancy condition on a complex of four barns within Tewkesbury Borough Council primarily on the change in policy basis. The key points for the planning officer were that no external alterations were required in the conversion process and the barns were noteworthy in terms of character to warrant future preservation. The sustainability argument is there is less harmful impact if a barn is lived in full time and maintained compared with an empty holiday cottage. Surprisingly the planning officer also confirmed that as the basic services were within two miles of the property the occupiers would not consider completely isolated from basic services and amenities.

If you have a barn conversion with a holiday occupancy condition now is a great time to look at removing the burden to increase the value of the property and reduce the hassle of the weekly changeover and marketing. Without the restriction the barns can be sold, let out on Assured Shorthold tenancies, released for a member of family to live in or continue to be used for holiday purposes until you decide to retire.