1 March 2002

Residential use worth a try if no demand for trade lets

By Olivia Cooper

ISOLATED farmers unable to tap into demand for business lets should consider residential conversions instead, says one planning specialist.

Government policy favours conversion to business use over residential use to attract more employment to the countryside, says Richard Wain, planning specialist for midlands-based chartered surveyor Fisher German. "This is disadvantaging farmers who are being encouraged to diversify."

Mr Wain estimates 50% of his clients would not be able to convert redundant farm buildings for business use, due to lack of demand, but says there is a solution.

"Some local authorities include policies in their development plans, which allow residential re-use if the applicant has made every reasonable attempt to secure suitable business reuse first."

He says a marketing plan which includes advertising the site for 6-12 months, could be used to prove a "reasonable attempt" at marketing had been made.

"The conclusions derived should establish whether or not there is demand for employment use in the area, and whether residential conversion would be more appropriate," says Mr Wain.

A tailored plan would cost about £2000-£2500 plus advertising fees of £100-£150 a month. &#42