Saturday, 21 July 2018

Plans breathe new life into barns

ESTATE owners and farmers will be able to better realise the potential of many of their redundant agricultural buildings following

ESTATE owners and farmers will be able to better realise the potential of many of their redundant agricultural buildings following a change in planning policy announced last week.

From May 30, agricultural buildings under 500sqm will be covered by permitted development rights, allowing them to be converted to alternative uses without the need to apply for planning consent for the change of use.

James Del Mar, head of Knight Frank’s rural consultancy department, said the announcement was good news.

“It has been very frustrating for our clients that many buildings unsuitable for modern agriculture have lain redundant for years because planners haven’t allowed them to be converted into alternative more productive uses,” he said.

“These changes to permitted development rights will not only allow farmers and estate owners to maximise the potential of their properties, but could also provide new employment opportunities in the countryside and help safeguard the fabric of historic buildings that would otherwise fall into disrepair.”

New permitted development rights will also allow change of use from B1 office space to houses (C3) to provide new homes in existing buildings.

The government minister in charge of planning, Eric Pickles, said: “This gives a clear signal to owners, developers and local planning authorities that we want underused and outdated offices to be brought back to life, and provides an excellent opportunity to create much-needed new homes.”

Promising further flexibility on the use of agricultural buildings, Mr Pickles added: “As set out in this year’s budget statement, we will consult later in the summer on further relaxations to enable empty shops and agricultural buildings to convert to housing.”

Although this was great news for rural property owners, James Carter-Brown, who heads up the building consultancy team of Knight Frank, added a word of warning.

“This won’t mean all buildings can be converted to alternative uses overnight,” he said.

“Any changes to their external appearance could still require planning consent and other considerations such as the provision of services, building regulations and potential implications for traffic volumes on small rural roads, will all still apply.

“Some farm buildings could also be listed, meaning any changes will require additional consents. Taking expert advice before committing to spending any money would be very prudent.”

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