Shropshire Star

Increased flexibility for the rural sector: Revised agricultural permitted development rights

In April, legislative changes were announced which will increase the scope of agricultural permitted development rights in England.

Samantha Leake

The rural sector is an important part of the UK economy in terms of its ability to contribute to food security, boost rural housing and provide opportunities to tackle climate change.

Post-Brexit, there’s been a move to introduce greater flexibility into the sector. This is against a background of popular programmes such as Clarkson's Farm which highlight some of the everyday challenges faced by rural businesses.

In May, at the Food to Farm summit, and through the Unleashing Rural Opportunity policy paper in June 2023, plans were announced to 'cut red tape' to improve economic outcomes for the rural economy by creating opportunities to diversify income streams and raise capital.

Since then we have seen a number of initiatives come forward including changes to permitted development rights around camp sites and temporary uses, along with the most recent changes announced last month.

Some commentators suggest these could have gone further and should have included allowing agricultural to residential conversions in National Landscapes (formerly AONBs) and National Parks.

Also being questioned is whether changes to the permitted development rights will go far enough to boost rural housing, or whether a stronger policy response is required.

Summary of the changes

The new permitted development rights came into force on May 21, 2024, with the main changes affecting Part 3, Class Q (Agricultural buildings to dwellinghouses) and Class R (Agricultural buildings to flexible commercial use).

There have also been notable increases in the maximum size of new agricultural buildings that can be erected under Part 6, Class A (Agricultural development on units of 5 hectares or more) and B (Agricultural development on units less than 5 hectares).

Revisions to Class Q are poised to be the most significant. For example, non-agricultural buildings within established agricultural units may be eligible for conversion to a dwellinghouse(s). It is also now possible to erect a single-storey extension as part of the conversion process.

The changes to Class R provide landowners with new opportunities for rural diversification, with increased size thresholds and alternative uses permitted.

Meanwhile, the changes to Part 6 Class A & B will provide greater flexibility for farmers and should help with agricultural production.

As always the devil is in the detail when it comes to opportunities to use permitted development rights. If in doubt, please contact the team at Savills to seek advice on 01952 239500.

by Samantha Leake, associate director in the rural management team at Savills in Telford.

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