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Farm building conversions given green light thanks to changing regulations

New permitted development rights (PDR) now allow for the conversion of unused buildings into homes, shops, cafés, sports facilities and a variety of other commercial uses, without the need for a planning application.

The new rules came into force this week, and form part of the government’s ‘Long-term Plan for Housing’, announced last July.

According to government figures, just 5,000 homes delivered on farming land since April 2014 and the proposals intend to increase both the number homes and the number of job opportunities.

Aidan Van de Weyer, senior planner at Lanpro in Cambridge, said: “These reforms are very welcome as they bring greater flexibility to the use of rural buildings.

“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.

“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.”

Furthermore, farms may now expand the number and size of buildings on site without the need for a planning application: the size limit for new farm buildings erected under agricultural development PD rights on farms over 5 hectares has increased by 500sqm to 1500sqm, and for farms under 5 hectares by 250sqm to 1250sqm.

The volume allowance for extensions may also increase to 25% (from 20%) without the need for prior approval.