19 October 2017

King West

Class Q Permitted Development Rights

Regulations have been introduced which allow for agricultural buildings to be converted into dwellings without the need for full planning permission, subject to specified procedures being completed and under a number of limiting provisions.

Do you have old farm buildings that you are looking to demolish to make room for something else on your land? Or are you clearing space because disused barns are simply gathering dust? If it’s not to increase open space, think first about the opportunities of Class Q permission for barn conversions providing an alternative income stream for your farm.

As Brexit discussions commence in Europe, the agricultural industry continues to worry over a lack of subsidiary funding and grants after 2020. As such, creating alternative income streams for farms is becoming more important. If you have disused barns, this alternative income stream may be more accessible than first thought.

The growth in desire for rental properties as both long-term housing options and holiday lettings through conglomerate websites such as Airbnb, outweighs demand. The opportunity
to step on to the housing ladder is becoming even harder as house price increases continue to force many to remain in rental properties. This, in turn, creates the need for more ‘grown-up’ rental accommodation, potentially housing a family for a long time. The desirability of a barn conversion, located in the country, as a rental property, presents a ready stock of renters who require stability, come with local schooling commitments and a reliable financial background. These tenants have too much to lose to disappoint you as a landlord.

After permitted development rights were extended in 2014 to cover conversion of farm buildings, over half of all applications were refused prior to approval because of failed location sustainability tests. Revised guidance in 2015 changed this test to be whether the building conversion is ‘impractical’- lacking access, or ‘undesirable’- next to objectionable activity, rather than based on location meaning the barrier of location has been removed from the process.

However, the convertibility test has been added to the Class Q development rights. Rather than relying on location criteria, the physical aspects of the building are now under deeper scrutiny. To claim Class Q permitted rights, the building must already be structurally sound before any works commence and the plans must not include any external change. The building needs to have been used for agriculture on the 20th March 2013 or last used for agriculture before that date if unused on the 20th March 2013. The building must also be less than 450sq meters of existing floor space.

Application for permission must be submitted before any works of conversion are carried out. If work has commenced, full planning permission needs to be applied for via the Planning Department of the Local Authority. In addition, development under Class Q cannot be carried out where an agricultural tenancy has been terminated less than one year before an application for prior notification is made, unless both the landlord and tenant have agreed, in writing, that the site is no longer required for agricultural use.

If you are considering alternative income streams for your agricultural land, contact King West for advice on developing unused buildings under Class Q. In thfirstst instance, email Harry Epsom on hepsom@kingwest. or call 01858 411 539. 

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