Getting the rules clear on turning farm buildings into homes

By Toby Neal | Farming | Published:

New guidance has recently been issued by Central Government in respect of the regulations for Class Q permitted development rights, which allow agricultural buildings to be converted for residential use.

Graham Clark, planning consultant at Berrys.

Since the introduction of Class Q in 2014 there has been much debate and confusion about the extent of works that are allowed to convert an agricultural building to residential use.

Much of this has centred on whether structural works are permitted and whether the existing building is structurally sound enough to support any required structural works.

This led to many applications being refused because they were proposing internal works to structurally support the building and/or create a first floor.

The newly issued guidance now essentially states that internal works will not be controlled by the Class Q regulations.

"Internal works are not generally development. For the building to function as a dwelling it may be appropriate to undertake internal structural works, including to allow for a floor, the insertion of a mezzanine or upper floors within the overall residential floor space permitted, or internal walls, which are not prohibited by Class Q."

This should now hopefully resolve some of the main reasons why some councils have refused Class Q development applications.

Meanwhile we are backing a campaign launched by landowners in England to help boost housing in the rural areas to enable farmers to retire and encourage younger people to enter the industry.

The CLA, which represents 30,000 farmers and rural businesses in England and Wales, says England’s planning policy on homes for retiring farmers must catch up with the rest of the United Kingdom before Brexit changes take effect.


While the planning frameworks of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland recognise that being able to build a new rural home can be crucial in helping a farmer to retire and in bringing young people into farming, England’s National Planning Policy Framework still does not.

Policy in Wales enables “a second dwelling on an established farm, which is financially sustainable, to facilitate the progressive handover of the management of the farm business to a new farmer within five years of planning consent for the rural enterprise dwelling being granted."

The CLA is suggesting similar wording could be used in England’s NPPF.

Graham Clark, planning consultant at Berrys

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.


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