When can permitted development rights be used for the conversion of agricultural buildings?
A recent appeal decision of the Planning Inspectorate provides a useful reminder that permitted development rights can only be relied on for the conversion of an agricultural building to a residential dwelling, where the existing building provides an adequate support structure which is capable of conversion without a complete demolition or re-build.
Subject to certain conditions being met, Class Q of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 allows an agricultural building to be converted to a residential dwelling without any need for a full application for planning permission to be submitted. Instead, such development can be permitted if ‘prior approval’ is obtained from the local planning authority, confirming that the proposed development falls within the remit of the permitted development regulations.
For such an application to be successful, any building works to convert the building to residential use must be limited to:
- The installation and replacement of windows, doors, roofs and exterior walls; and
- The provision of water, drainage, electricity, gas and other necessary services.
In this case, the appeal concerned an open-sided barn which was made up of a concrete frame supporting a sheet material roof and a compacted earth and rubble floor. The proposed conversion to a dwelling included the introduction of four external walls of rendered panels, a new floor, a mezzanine floor, internal partitions, windows and doors and a replacement cement fibre roof.
When considering whether the proposed conversion constituted lawful development under permitted development rights, the Inspector concluded that “as a matter of fact and degree, the existing building was so skeletal and minimalist that the works needed to alter the use to a dwelling were of such magnitude that they were practically a fresh new building which did not fall under the permitted development regulations”.
Whilst each application will need to be considered on its own particular set of circumstances, this appeal decision does demonstrate that permitted development rights are only intended to allow conversion of agricultural buildings which are genuinely capable of conversion, and cannot be used where demolition or a complete re-build of an existing structure is proposed.