New opportunities for developers
In an effort to boost the economy, the government has announced that from 30 May 2013, agricultural buildings of up to 500 square metres are covered by new permitted development rights.
These allow them to be converted for a variety of alternative uses such as shops (A1), restaurants and cafés (A3), hotels (C1) light industrial (B1) offices (B1), or storage (B8), without the need to apply for planning permission.
This is of great benefit to anyone owning or developing farm buildings and includes those sited in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and greenbelt, but excludes listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments. Unfortunately, these rights apply only to buildings that have been in agricultural use since before 3 July 2012. Buildings constructed, or converted to agricultural use after that date will only qualify for these new permitted development rights after a 10 year period.
In a departure from the somewhat laborious processes usually involved in the planning regime, for changes to buildings of up to 150 square metres, owners will simply need to notify their local authority of their plans. For changes to buildings of between 150 square metres and 500 square metres a prior notification process will apply. This will allow councils to assess the potential impact of the changes on matters such as traffic and noise, but they will have to make a decision within 56 days.
Owners of commercial property will also benefit from new permitted development rights. These allow buildings that were in use prior to 30 May 2013 as (B1) office space to be changed to (C3) residential use, subject to a prior approval process.
There is more good news for the economy. The government has announced that it will consult later in the year on a further relaxation of planning rules to allow empty shops and agricultural buildings to be turned into residential housing without consultation.
Taken together, all of these proposals seem like a step in the right direction leading to increased construction activity.
For further information on permitted development rights, speak to a member of our agriculture & estates team.