29 October 1999

Brownfield tag for yards and buildings urged

FARMYARDS and redundant farm buildings should be classed as brownfield sites when planners consider them for a change of use, says a north country surveyor.

Such sites have been targeted by government for development in favour of virgin greenfield sites. Currently all parts of a farm tend to be classified as the latter, even concrete yards or large buildings no longer used in farming operations.

A change of rule would make it much easier for farmers to get planning permission and the accompanying cash injection so many businesses now need, says Ian Self of solicitors Ward Hadaway. It would enable many planning authorities to meet redevelopment targets, and could breathe new life into rural communities.

"If we could get the steading classified as brownfield – which it clearly is – it would be of benefit across the board, and would speed up the planning process," says Mr Self.

The proposal will now be put to the RICS land use and planning committee in London, he adds.

Another hurdle facing farmers seeking diversification or change of use of buildings is that only after the potential has been assessed can applications for residential use be considered by most local authorities.

In the north-east of England, this typically takes nine months, is expensive and, where the diversification might generate income for a business in difficulties, probably means consent comes too late to help.

The length of delay varies between local authorities, and again the RICS is to lobby the Department of the Environment for a more flexible approach suited to local need.