barn-roof-1217017It is now possible to convert agricultural barns into residential units without the need for express planning permission through a process known as Prior Notification under Class ‘Q’ of the General Permitted Development Order 2015 (GPDO). The GPDO allows the conversion of a barn into a maximum of 3 residential units up to a total of 450sqm floor space. In order to prevent owners constructing barns and converting them, the units must have been in agricultural use on or before 20th March 2013. Anything after this date is not eligible for an application under this procedure. As part of the application the Local Planning Authority (LPA) are confined to considering 5 matters which are set out in the Order. There is no requirement for the LPA to consider Local Plan policy although this may be used to reinforce a decision if it corresponds with the NPPF. The five issues referred to above are as follows:

  1. Transport and highways impacts of the development
  2. Noise impacts of the development
  3. Contamination risks on the site
  4. Flooding risks on the site
  5. Whether the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural to residential use.

Under Class Q the GPDO also allows building operations to occur in connection with the residential conversion where those operations consist of the installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs or exterior walls or utility services to the extent that is reasonably necessary for the building to function as a dwelling house. An application will have more weight if it can be proven that the existing barn is structurally sound in terms of the roof form and framework. It is also important to prove that the works will not involve enlarging the building in any way. The process is highly subjective and as such any application needs to provide a robust argument that satisfies all the requirements. There has been a very high refusal rate by councils (almost 50% in the first year) and each council will likely regard the requirements in slightly different ways. For further information on prior notification for barn conversions please contact one of our consultants for a no obligation conversation on 0808 164 1288.