Planning permission change to make converting rural properties easier

The government has revealed plans to make it easier for those people living in the countryside to convert agricultural buildings into family accommodation. This comes at a time when accommodation in rural areas is at a premium due to shortfalls in supply planning permission is often blocked by rural councils.

The rule change was announced by Housing Minister Dominic Raab and include an increase in the number of buildings that can be developed from existing agricultural buildings from three to five. Current rules state that conversions of agricultural buildings can only result in three new properties. The new rules state that the conversions can be three large homes or five smaller ones or a mix of both.

Raab points out that the changes will allow developers to make the best use of existing buildings and meet the needs of the local communities. It also ensures that the character of the buildings is not lost as the number of properties now allowed is still relatively small. He says that they need to be more creative to meet housing need and there needs to be more flexibility for rural landowners.

The planning permission will also be extended by a further year to allow additional development of outbuildings and storage buildings. These regulations come into force on 6th April and form part of the National Planning Policy Framework that has been recently announced.

Graham Clark from Chartered surveyor company Berrys has pointed out that currently planning permission is thrown out for agricultural buildings because the internal works are deemed to be substantial, even if they do not affect the exterior. The new guidance will allow more restructuring to take place as this is not regarded as development and falls under permitted development.

It is hoped that this planning permission change alongside the ability to build more homes will improve the number of developments that are approved by councils.