Converting larger agricultural buildings to homes

On 6 April 2018, new permitted development rules came in that allow the conversion of much larger barns than before to residential use.

Before 6 April, you could convert a barn with a floorspace of up to 450 sq.m. to up to 3 homes.

Now, it seems that you can convert a barn with a floorspace of up to 865 sq.m. to up to 5 homes.

The new permitted development right allows the conversion of up to 465 sq.m. of agricultural buildings to up to 3 “larger dwellings”, or up to 5 smaller homes, each with a floorspace no larger than 100 sq.m.

However, the permitted development rules appear to allow a “mix and match” as long as you meet all of the following requirements:
• the total number of homes created can’t be more than 5;
• the floorspace taken up by homes larger than 100 sq.m. can’t be more than 465 sq.m, and you can’t have more than 3 of these larger homes; and
• other smaller homes can’t be larger than 100 sq.m..

This means you should be able to convert agricultural buildings into one larger dwelling of 465 sq.m. plus 4 smaller dwellings each no larger than 100 sq.m. This is a total of 865 sq.m.

It is not absolutely clear that this was deliberate. It may be a loophole that closes soon.

Don’t forget that, even though this is permitted development, you still need to apply for “prior approval”, and there are other conditions you need to comply with.

So if you have a larger agricultural building that you want to convert to housing, contact Vision Planning ASAP.

Court Judgement makes getting permission for new homes in some small villages easier

A recent Court of Appeal Judgement may make it easier to get planning permission for small housing developments in small villages.

The Court of Appeal’s decision focussed on the meaning of the word “isolated” in paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This notes that “Local planning authorities should avoid new isolated homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances”. A number of potential special circumstances are then listed, which includes dwellings for rural workers.

This is important because development outside defined settlement boundaries is described as being in the “open countryside”. Councils often assume that a development in the open countryside must be isolated, so they refuse the application partly based on paragraph 55 of the NPPF.

The Court of Appeal has determined that this is wrong, and that “the word “isolated” in the phrase “isolated homes in the countryside” simply connotes a dwelling that is physically separate or remote from a settlement.”

When does this matter?

This matters if there are too few homes being built in the local area.

Where the local Council cannot demonstrate an adequate five year housing land supply, then policies in the Council’s development plan that restrict housing cannot be relied upon. Instead, the decision is made based on the NPPF.

If a council can argue that the NPPF restricts development because it would result in “new isolated homes in the open countryside” then they can still refuse a planning application based on the NPPF, even if they don’t have enough housing supply.

The Court of Appeal Judgement means they can’t always make this argument. A development in a small village, even one without a settlement boundary, should not be considered to be isolated.

Vision Planning can help you find out whether or not the local Council can demonstrate an adequate five year housing land supply. If you want to get planning permission for a house or two in a small village, even one without a settlement boundary, please get in touch.