Increased planning flexibility for agricultural buildings

Amendments to Class Q (agricultural buildings to dwellinghouses) and Class R (agricultural buildings to a flexible commercial use) of Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)(England) Order 2015 are coming into force on 21 May 2024.

What are these changes and what do they mean for rural property owners?

The intention behind the changes, the detail of which can be found in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)(England)(Amendment) Order 2024, is to provide greater planning flexibility. It is intended to encourage rural growth, housing delivery and support the agricultural sector.

Changes to Class Q: certain buildings no longer need to be used solely for agricultural use

The most significant amendment is the removal of the requirement for qualifying buildings to be used solely for agricultural use. The new wording now allows “former agricultural buildings that was (but is no longer) part of an established agricultural unit and any land within that building’s curtilage” to be changed to a dwelling house.

It is important to note that development is not permitted if since ceasing to be part of an agricultural unit, the building has been used for any non-agricultural purpose. In addition, development under Class Q is not permitted if the building was part of an agricultural unit on 24 July 2023.

The maximum developable floorspace has also increased to 150sqm per unit, and the cumulative maximum number of dwellings is either 10 separate dwellinghouses (up from 5) or 1,000 sqm. This means that if the maximum of 10 dwellings are converted, they can only be 100 sqm per unit.

Changes to Class R: an increase in the maximum developable floorspace

The most important change to Class is that the maximum developable floorspace has increased from 500sqm to 1,000 sqm.

In addition, the range of commercial purposes for which agricultural buildings and land within their curtilage may be used has expanded, and now includes uses falling within class B2 (general industrial), Class F2 (c) (outdoor sport or recreation) or for the provision of agricultural training. 

However, it is important to note that the ability to use the building for a use falling within class B2 (general industrial purpose) is limited by a new condition whereby such use has to be limited to “the processing of raw good (excluding livestock) which, other than ancillary goods, are produced on the site and are to be sold on the site”.

How Moore Barlow can help you

We fully understand that legislation and planning policy is constantly evolving and if you are a developer, a landowner or objector, it’s extremely difficult to stay on top of your requirements. That’s where Moore Barlow can help, with our experienced team.

If you require expert legal advice around this, or any other area of planning policy and legislation, please contact our expert solicitors today