Farmers set to benefit from Permitted Development rights expansion

Extensions to Permitted Development

Extensions to Permitted Development (PD) rights are set to come into force later this month, making the likes of barn conversions and changing the use of existing agricultural buildings for commercial purposes simpler.

Thrings Planning Partner Fred Quartermain takes a look at what this means for rural landowners ahead of the changes coming into effect on 21 May.

What PD rights are changing?

The simply titled Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.)(England)(Amendment) Order 2024makes an array of changes to existing PD rights that affect agricultural buildings, including to Class Q – for conversions into new accommodation - and Class R – which relates to changes for flexible commercial use.

Changes are also going to be coming in for more traditional Agricultural PD rights through Part 6 Classes A and B – which affect agricultural development on units of more and of less than five hectares respectively.

This follows a review by the government into the extension of PD rights which would enable homeowners and rural landowners to find it easier to build “upwards and outwards”, providing new freedoms to convert existing properties into new accommodation.

Changes to Class Q

A full revision of Class Q means that these will now apply to both buildings that are part of an established agricultural unit and to former agricultural buildings that are no longer part of the unit.  

The changes, which also incorporate any curtilage associated with the building and allow the building operations “reasonably necessary” to enable the conversion or extension will now also permit the rear extension of the building being converted.

The limits for the new-look Class Q is up to 10 dwellings and/or 1,000sqm of floorspace with a maximum floorspace of 150sqm per dwelling, meaning that the existing upper limit of 465sqm is being removed.

Under the changes, there needs to be suitable existing access to a public highway and the building must be large enough to comply with nationally described space standards prior to conversion in order to qualify for Class Q rights. “The impact of the proposed extension on the amenity of any adjoining premises” will also be considered prior to approval.

Changes to Class R

Two of the biggest changes to this class are the increase of the limit of floor area that can change use – from 500sqm to 1,000sqm – and the expansion of permitted uses, which now includes:

  • General industrial purposes;
  • Storage or distribution;
  • Hotels;
  • Commercial, business or service;
  • Outdoor sport or recreation.

The changes also include a new condition for this change of use which states that any proposed use for “general industrial” purposes is limited to the processing of raw goods, excluding livestock, which are both produced and to be sold on the site.

Changes to Part 6

For agricultural development on units of more than five hectares, the ground area for buildings using these PD rights is being increased from 1,000sqm to 1,500sqm. The ability to erect new buildings and extend existing buildings on a site that is or is within the curtilage of a scheduled monument has, however, been removed.

Meanwhile, on units of less than five hectares, the ground area is increased from 1,000sqm to 1,250sqm. On these sites, the ability to extend buildings on sites on or within the curtilage of a scheduled monument has also been removed.

Transitional Provisions

In relation to both Class Q and Part 6 changes, developments permitted immediately before the changes come into force on 21 May but that are no longer covered by the PD rights will continue to be permitted for a further 12 months.

Thrings’ Planning and Environment lawyers have extensive experience in navigating complex local and national planning policy legislation and has successfully supported commercial and residential applications through the approval and appeal processes. To find out more and for advice on your development proposals, including how to address enforcement notices, please get in touch.


Thrings rural Planning lawyers

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