New planning laws come into force, allowing farmers to transform ragricultural buildings into homes

New planning laws come into force, allowing farmers to transform agricultural buildings into homes

Farmers will now be able to convert their unused buildings into new homes and shops without spending time and money submitting planning applications.

New permitted development rights (PDR) came into effect earlier this week, meaning farmers will be able to transform agricultural buildings and land into housing or new business opportunities without having to apply for planning permission.

Farmers now have greater freedoms to diversify and convert agricultural buildings to commercial uses, as well as up to 10 homes.

While housing developments are still subject to space and natural light conditions, the new powers aim to boost rural housing schemes.

Since April 2014, only 5,000 homes have been delivered on farming land.

“Farmers are the lifeblood of communities, and these changes give them the freedom to grow their businesses, and plan for their futures,” said minister for housing, planning and building safety Lee Rowley.

The new PDR changes will:

  • double the amount of floorspace that can change from agricultural to ‘flexible commercial use’ from 500 square metres to 1,000 square metres
  • increase the size of new buildings or extensions that can be built on farms over five hectares from 1,000 square metres to 1,500 square metres
  • for smaller farms, increase the size of such development from 1,000 square metres to 1,250 square metres
  • double the number of homes that can be delivered through the conversion of agricultural buildings from five to 10
  • protect nationally important archaeological sites (scheduled monuments) by removing the ability for extensions to be built and new buildings erected in the vicinity

Farming minister Mark Spencer added: “We are listening to farmers and putting them at the heart of future development of our rural areas.

“Helping farmers secure their businesses and get on with the important job of producing food is our top priority.”

Commenting on the new regulations, Aidan Van de Weyer, senior planner at planning consultancy Lanpro, said: “By bringing in new residents and supporting local businesses, conversions of rural buildings – those which are currently not suitable for modern farming operations - will support the long-term vitality of countryside communities.

“At Lanpro, we are already discussing with our clients how these changes will provide opportunities.

“One farming client, for example, has an unused barn building that has now been brought within the scope of permitted development and is keen for us to develop a proposal to capitalise on this change in the regulations.”

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