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Conversion of agricultural buildings for residential use

Since 6 April 2014, changes to permitted development rights allow for the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential use. Farm and Country Finance can arrange farm development finance to assist with this.

Do your buildings qualify?

The new rights apply to buildings and their curtilage that were in sole agricultural use as part of an established agricultural unit on 20 March 2014. Those buildings that were out of use on this date, but were last used for agricultural purposes, will also qualify. The permitted development rights do not apply to:

  • Listed buildings and scheduled monuments
  • Article 5(1) land including National Parks, AONBs, Conservation Areas, World Heritage Sites or
  • The Broads
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
  • Safety hazard areas or military explosives storage areas.

The provisions permit conversion up to and for:

  • A maximum footprint of 450 sqm
  • A maximum of three dwellings.

The rights extend to the works necessary to convert the building, including the installation or replacement of windows, doors, external walls and roofs, the installation of services, and any partial demolition deemed necessary. The conversion cannot exceed the footprint of the original building.

Are you a tenant, or does a tenant occupy the site?

The permitted development rights do not apply where there is an agricultural tenancy over the site, or where a tenancy was terminated within the past year for the purposes of residential development unless written consent of both the landlord and tenant is obtained. If this applies to you and you would like advice, you should contact a good local land agent.

Important points to consider

The permitted development rights apply only to buildings in, or previously in, agricultural use. It is not yet clear whether or not there will be a time limit on these changes, but it is likely that a review will be undertaken in the event of strong opposition and in light of the forthcoming election. If you have constructed any agricultural building under permitted development rights in the past year, then you are prevented from using these new rights for 10 years. Similarly, use of these new rights prevents reliance on additional permitted development rights for a further 10 years. Prior to any development an application must be made to the local authority to determine whether prior approval will be required in relation to location and siting, design and external appearance, transport and highways, noise, contaminated land, and/or flood risk. An experienced planning advisor will be able to help, and would be happy to talk to you about what will be required. Farm and Country Finance is happy to provide direction, in this regard.

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