Quick summary

Up to 450 square metres of agricultural building and land within a defined curtilage will be able  to change to residential use for up to three dwellings, and carry out limited associated building  works (new Class MB).  Also buildings and curtilage used for agricultural purposes of up to 500 sqm  will be able to change to be used as a new state funded school or a nursery providing childcare  (new Class MA). In both cases the rights will not apply to listed buildings or scheduled monuments  and will not apply to protected land as further set out below.

However, conditions, limitations and restrictions apply to the new rights and for certain matters  the prior approval of the local planning authority (LPA) may be required.

Background

A relaxation of the planning regulations from May 2013 already allows land owners to convert barns  and farm buildings, and defined land within the curtilage, to retail, employment and community  uses.  A subsequent consultation [endnote 1] went further by proposing conversion to residential  use, and schools and nurseries. [endnote 2]

The order to implement the further changes proposed last year has now been published, and is due to  come into force on 6 April 2014. [endnote 3]

This briefing looks only at the changes relating to agricultural buildings.

Existing buildings and land within its curtilage used for agricultural purposes to change to  residential use (C3) (new Class MB)

The order provides that the new permitted development right:

  • allows up to three additional dwelling houses (including flats) to be created by conversion on  an agricultural unit which existed prior to the proposal being first announced in the Budget  Statement of 20 March 2013 and which unit was used solely for an agricultural use
  • has an upper threshold of 450 sqm of cumulative floor space of building or buildings within the  relevant agricultural unit
  • allows for building operations reasonably necessary to convert the buildings, but limited to the  installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs, or exterior walls, services, and partial  demolition to the extent reasonably required to carry out the aforementioned
  • must not result in the extension of the external dimensions of the existing building at any given point
  • may require LPA prior approval for siting and design to ensure physical development complies  with local plan policies on design, materials and outlook
  • may require LPA prior approval for transport and highways impact, noise impact, contamination  and flooding risks, as well as on the practicality and desirability of the change given the  buildings siting or location, to ensure that change of use takes place only in sustainable  locations

Definition of Curtilage

The rights apply to existing buildings and certain land within its curtilage. Curtilage is defined  for the purposes of the order as the piece of land immediately beside or around the agricultural  building, closely associated with and serving the purposes of the agricultural building, or an area  of land immediately beside or around the agricultural building but no larger than the area of land  occupied by the agricultural building.

Prior Approval

Where the LPA require prior approval the order provides that the LPA may require the developer to  submit such information as the authority may reasonably require in order to determine the  application.  This may include assessments of impacts or risks, statements of mitigation and  details of proposed operational development. The order provides that the LPA may grant prior  approval subject to conditions reasonably related to the subject matter of the prior approval. It  may refuse an application where in the opinion of the LPA the proposed development does not comply  with, or the developer has provided insufficient information to enable the LPA to establish whether  the proposed development complies with, any conditions, limitations or restrictions.

Appeals

Applicants may appeal under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a local  planning authority’s refusal or non- determination of an application for prior approval.

Limitations and restrictions

The new right does not apply to listed buildings and scheduled monuments.  It also does not apply in Conservation areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Broads and World  Heritage sites, sites of special scientific interest, safety hazard areas or military explosives  storage areas.

Where the site is occupied under an agricultural tenancy, then the permitted development rights  will not apply unless the express consent of both the landlord and the tenant has been obtained.  Where an agricultural tenancy over the site is terminated for the purpose of carrying out  development one year before the development begins agreement from both the landlord and tenant is  required that the site is no longer required for agricultural use.

The Government’s intention is that the new permitted development rights should only apply to  genuinely redundant buildings.  Consequently, the new right will only apply to agricultural  building(s) constructed or extended after 20 March 2013 once a period of 10 years has elapsed. The  existing permitted rights to construct or extend agricultural buildings within an established  agricultural unit are also amended to prevent developers using these rights within 10 years of a  change of use under the new provisions.  Within a 10 year window the owner will need to choose to  exercise either the existing permitted right to construct  a new agricultural building or the new  right for conversion of an agricultural building to a dwelling house. Note that the order provides that for agricultural buildings which have changed to residential use these are excluded from the usual  permitted rights which currently benefit residential dwellings.

The order also provides that any permitted development must be begun within three years beginning  with the date on which any prior approval is granted or, if not determined, should have been  granted.

A building (and its curtilage) used for agricultural purposes of up to 500 sqm to be used as a new  state funded school or a nursery providing childcare (new Class MA)

The order provides that the new permitted development right:

  • allows agricultural buildings to change to a registered nursery providing childcare or a state-  funded school to increase school and childcare places and support rural communities
  • may require LPA prior approval for siting and design to ensure physical development complies  with local plan policies on design, materials and outlook
  • may require LPA prior approval for transport and highways impact, noise impact, contamination  and flooding risks

The permitted right of change of use of an agricultural building is restricted to use as a state-funded school or a nursery and no other  purpose; other uses falling within D1 (non-residential institutions)  are excluded, except to the  extent that the other purpose is ancillary to the primary use as a school or nursery.

Buildings which have become schools or nurseries under Class MA will be able to carry out minor  works under Class B of Part 41 of Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order.  This will  enable a hard surface playground to be developed within the curtilage of the building within the  overall size limit of 500 square metres, applicable to the building’s floor area and land within  the curtilage. Also premises which have changed to use as a registered nursery will benefit from  the same sort of works as schools under permitted development.

The new right does not apply to listed buildings and scheduled monuments.  It also does not apply  in Conservation areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Broads and World  Heritage sites, sites of special scientific interest, safety hazard areas or military explosives  storage areas.

As for new Class MB, where the site is occupied under an agricultural tenancy, then the permitted  development rights will not apply unless both the tenant and landlord agree that the site is no  longer required for agricultural use and consent is obtained to this effect.

The order also provides that any permitted development must be begun within three years beginning  with the date on which any prior approval is granted or, if not determined, should have been  granted.

Other changes made by the order

The new order also makes a number of further changes to the General Permitted Development Order  which are the subject of a separate briefing and are only listed below:

  • a new Class CA allows a building used as a shop to be used as a bank, a building society, a  credit union or a friendly society
  • a new Class IA allows buildings used as shops or for the provision of financial or professional  services to change to residential use
  • an amendment to Class K will enable premises in business (B1), hotels (C1), residential  institutions (C2), secure residential institutions (C2A), and assembly and leisure (D2) use classes  to change their use to a registered nursery providing early years childcare to increase childcare  places and support working families.
  • may require LPA prior approval for transport and highways impact, noise impact, contamination and flooding risks, as well as on the practicality and desirability of the change given the  buildings siting or location, to ensure that change of use takes place only in sustainable locations