Bourne Rural Planning Consultancy LTD





Rather like buses.... we have nothing for a long time and then everything happens at once!

Firstly – new planning guidance introduced on 22 February further explores “When is permission required?”.

In relation to Class Q (permitted development right for change of use from an agricultural building to residential use), paragraph 105 now states that:

"the right assumes that the agricultural building is capable of functioning as a dwelling. The right permits building operations which are reasonably necessary to convert the building, which may include those which would affect the external appearance of the building and would otherwise require planning permission. This includes the installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs, exterior walls, water, drainage, electricity, gas or other services to the extent reasonably necessary for the building to function as a dwelling house; and partial demolition to the extent reasonably necessary to carry out these building operations. It is not the intention of the permitted development right to allow rebuilding work which would go beyond what is reasonably necessary for the conversion of the building to residential use. Therefore it is only where the existing building is already suitable for conversion to residential use that the building would be considered to have the permitted development right."

And goes on to say:

"For a discussion of the difference between conversions and rebuilding, see for instance the case of Hibbitt and another v SoS (1) and Rushcliffe Borough Council (2) [2016] EWHC 2853 (Admin)."

It is also added that "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."

I will keep my eyes open to see what impact this has in determining applications and appeals. 

Furthermore, and of even greater importance, the draft revision of the NPPF was released on 5 March.  Of particular importance to my clients, paragraph 55 of the NPPF has been reworded (and re-numbered to paragraph 81) to include:

Planning policies and decisions should avoid the development of isolated homes in the countryside unless one or more of the following circumstances apply;

 a)    there is an essential need for a rural worker, including those taking majority control of a farm business, to live permanently at or near their place of work in the countryside;…..” [emphasis added]

Exactly what was envisaged by “including those taking majority control of a farm business” is not clear to me – and I have assessed more than 500 of proposals for rural workers’ dwellings.  Still time will tell!

There have also been changes in relation to Green Belts – including additions for the change of use of land as not being inappropriate development in the GB.  This is a big shift and opportunities for the change of use of agricultural land to an equestrian use is now back on track!  We had always assumed that the omission of this within the NPPF was purposeful – perhaps not and it would appear to be an error on their part!

Finally, the permitted development rules are changing!  The announcement was made on 12 March that changes to PD rights are due to come into force on 6 April 2018.  These  will mean that up to five new homes can be created from existing agricultural buildings – increased from the three currently permitted.

Furthermore, the size limit of new agricultural buildings on larger farming units is to be increased from 465m2 to 1,000m2.

In addition, the PD right which allows for the change of use from class B8 (storage and distribution) to housing for premises of up to 500m2 is to be extended by another 12 months – through to April 2019.

All very exciting stuff!  We will keep an eye out to see the impact of these changes and update the news page accordingly.



Jill Scrivener