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Coalition urges farm building conversion to residential use

Ministers want rural councils to consider changing planning policies to support residential conversion of unwanted farm buildings rather than insisting on employment reuse.

That approach was highlighted in the Government’s response to the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s report into farming in England’s upland areas, which include seven national parks.

The administration said: “Planning authorities in rural areas with high demand for homes may want to consider amending their local planning policies to support the change of use of farm buildings to affordable homes where these are considered inappropriate for employment use, or take the need for affordable homes into account in assessing individual applications.”

The Government has reaffirmed plans to publish a countryside policy statement setting out its rural policy priorities, including economic ones, before the summer Parliamentary recess.

Also in the Government’s sights are proposals to amend national park legislation to reflect the importance of sustainable development in park authorities’ activities.

However, the administration has decided there are no “overwhelming arguments” for adding a specific socio-economic duty for national parks to promote socio-economic development.

The idea of such a duty was promoted by the advisory body the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC).

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