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Rampant Barn Building: Myth or Reality?

IMAGE: Agricultural Buildings
IMAGE: Agricultural Buildings

From April 2014, change of use to residential dwellings is possible

Permitted Development Rights for change of use from agricultural to commercial use came into force on 30 May 2013, with the aim of assisting economic growth in rural communities. The changes apply to buildings over a certain size which can be used for:

  • offices,
  • industrial or warehousing use,
  • retail,
  • restaurant,
  • hotel or leisure use (including equestrian)

without the need for planning permission.

For buildings over 500 square metres, a stringent prior approval process was put into place to cover issues such as transport and highways, developments in areas of flood risk, land contamination and safety hazard zones.

At the time the changes came into force, commentators predicted a wave of ‘rampant barn building’ by farmers in the hope, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England, that they could turn them into houses in the future. However, the rights only apply to buildings in agricultural use since before July 2012.

On 6 March 2014 Nick Boles announced that up to 450 square metres of agricultural buildings can be changed to provide a maximum of three houses without the need for planning permission by way of Permitted Development Rights. Again the change only applies to existing agricultural buildings, so fears of ‘rampant barn building’ are unfounded.

Should you own any agricultural buildings that will be eligible for conversion under the Permitted Development Rights and would like to discuss these further, contact Elizabeth Deyong, Head of Commercial Property on 01223 417267.

Disclaimer: While we do all that is possible in terms of ensuring its accuracy, this blog contains general information only. Nothing in these pages constitutes legal advice. You need to consult a suitably qualified lawyer from the firm on any specific legal problem or matter.


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