Planning rules change for agricultural buildings

Farmers will be able to better use the potential of many of their redundant agricultural buildings after a change in planning policy.

From 30 May, agricultural buildings under 500sq m will be covered by permitted development rights allowing them to be converted to alternative uses without the need to apply for planning consent for the change of use.

New permitted development changes explained

Rural planning and development specialist Rural Solutions provides a summary of the changes to permitted development rights:

  • Changes come into effect on 30 May 2013
  • Existing agricultural buildings can change up to a total of 500sq m of floor space on any single agricultural unit to a variety of commercial uses including shops (A1), restaurants and cafes (A3), business premises including offices and light industry (B1) and hotels (C1)
  • Listed buildings and those related to a scheduled ancient monument are excluded from the changes, but National Parks, Areas of Natural Beauty and Green Belt areas are included
  • The changes do not allow agricultural buildings to be converted to residential use but the government has said it will consult in the summer on whether to allow such changes
  • Changes apply to existing agricultural buildings in a sole agricutural use, in connection with a trade or business, as of 3 July 2012. Any new buildings built after this date must be in agricultural use for at least 10 years before the permitted changes can be applied
  • The new changes allow for the change of use only and any alterations which will materially affect the external appearance of the building will still need planning permission
  • A hard-standing of up to 50sq m can be created to be used in conjunction with the development – any further changes may still require planning permission
  • For changes up to a cumulative total of 150sq m within a single agricultural unit, you are required to write and notify the council of the date the new use will begin with a description of the proposed changes and a plan indicating the site and the buildings which the changes will apply to. For changes between a cumulative total of 150sq m and 500sq m, there is a prior notification procedure where you must apply to the council to give them the opportunity to approve matters relating to: transport and highways and noise impacts, and contamination and flooding risks at the site
  • Councils will provide an application form to gain prior approval. This should be submitted with a written description of the proposed development, a plan of the site and your contact address and/or email. The council has 56 days to issue a decision, and if one isn’t made in this time then development can begin regardless
  • Until 30 May 2016, additional new permitted development changes will allow existing offices (B1A) to change to residential use. This does not apply to listed buildings and a prior approval process applies.

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Change in planning rules