Consultation on change of use launched

A consultation on changes to permitted development rights has been launched that could eventually see changes of use for agricultural buildings going ahead without planning permission.

In a move to speed up the planning process for rural communities, the government has launched the nine-week consultation looking at permitted development rights. It aims to broaden the range of change that will be allowed without needing to apply for planning consent.

Under current permitted development rights, changes from agriculture to any other use require planning permission, but these proposals could potentially allow agricultural buildings to be turned into farm shops, storage facilities or workshops without planning permission.

“As well as covering a broad range of commercial uses, the consultation specifically focuses on agricultural buildings and their potential re-use,” said rural planning expert Alister King-Smith from consultancy Bruton Knowles.

“Consequently many farm and rural diversification projects being planned as well as those not even off the drawing board, could be encouraged and benefit from this proposed legislative change. In particular the usual storage, light industrial, added value food production and retail such as farm shops would benefit if the proposals are adopted. There would no longer be the delay, the hesitation over approval and the associated costs that come with a full planning application.”

While there are no current plans to include a change to residential use in the proposals, the tactical development of an agricultural site to commercial use may offer the chance to explore residential in the long term, said Mr King-Smith.

Farmers are being urged to fill in a form on the Department of Communities and Local Government website to air their views. The consultation closes on 11 September 2012.

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