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Agricultural buildings to residential dwellings

09 June 2014

We have now seen the publication of changes to the Town and Country Planning General Permitted Development Order which in some cases, allows agricultural buildings to be converted into residential houses.

These provisions came into force on 6 April 2014 and the first applications are due any day now.

An agricultural building of up to 450 square metres, may be able to be converted into three residential houses. Although, location is a key consideration as national parks, commons, areas of outstanding natural beauty and conservation areas are excluded.

The new regulations contain a number of features which will create significant debate over coming months and will undoubtedly lead to different interpretations depending on your local authority.

The new provisions are not just about a change of use, they also allow for new windows, doors, roofs and external walls and services to be installed. Partial demolition is also sanctioned.

Most disputes are expected to arise in cases where the local authority asks for prior approval of applications. This allows them to make decisions on such matters as transport, highways, noise and flooding.

They are only able to make a judgment “where the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to residential”.  This could be interpreted in many ways given the subjective nature as to what is “impractical” or “undesirable”.  Structure, size, location and layout could all lead to a negative view on impracticality and desirability.

Further guidance will no doubt be given as recommendations and appeals are heard and parameters become clearer.

For further information, please contact our agriculture & estates department.

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Robin Beckley MA (Oxon)
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