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Permitted development rights- what, and how much, is changing?

View profile for Shruti Trivedi
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It will not be the first time, and undoubtedly not the last, that permitted development rights are offered by the Government as one of the measures allowing a quick and ready solution to the ongoing issues we face with housing in the country.  On 12 March 2018, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced further changes to the permitted development regime for agricultural buildings.  These changes, outlined by Dominic Rabb, Minister of State for Housing, are the Government’s proposal for providing, “more options to convert agricultural buildings into family homes to better meet local housing needs”. 

Currently, existing permitted development rights, allowing conversion of agricultural buildings to residential homes, permit a maximum of three such properties without the need for express planning permission.  This limit is intended to be increased to a maximum of five new homes from existing agricultural buildings on a farm.  There will be a corresponding increase in the qualifying size of the agricultural buildings from the currently permitted maximum of 465 square metres to a maximum of 1000 square metres.   The gist of the new changes will in effect allow for:

  • up to three larger homes with a maximum area of 465 square metres; or
  • up to five (smaller) homes of up to 100 square metres each; or
  • a mix of both of the above but up to a maximum of five homes; within that  - no more than three homes are to be in excess of 465 square metres each.

It is safe to say that a significant number of new homes each year are already created through conversions of agricultural buildings, thanks to the previous changes in the regime allowing for such development to be authorised.  However, these new changes are expected to boost both the number of conversions undertaken in this manner, as well as the overall housing supply nationwide. 

Another change that should be highlighted is that a further year has been permitted in which property owners may benefit from the temporary permitted development rights for the change of use of buildings used for storage and distribution to residential use.  Such use is currently permitted under Class P of the relevant Use Classes Order and is now to be extended up to 10 June 2019.  This would relate to buildings with floor space not exceeding 500 square metres and, again, the stated intent by the Government is “to help relieve local housing pressures”. 

There is also an increase in the size of new agricultural buildings proposed - from the current maximum of 465 square metres to a maximum of a 1000 square metres.  These measures are to be introduced to assist farmers to adopt the latest innovations in modern farming practices (on larger farms in particular) by increasing the size limit of new agricultural buildings they can be permitted to operate. 

More detailed explanations to existing paragraphs within the permitted development legislation are to be made, as well as several definition clarifications.  The full details will be contained in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2018 (SI 2018 No.343).

The regulations affecting the amendments are expected to come into force on 6 April 2018.  It should be noted that the previous caveat, in relation to prior approval applications being needed to specify how many smaller or larger dwellings are proposed in respect of the changes to agricultural buildings to dwelling houses, and also to determine whether any previous development has taken place already under that relevant class (Class Q), will be retained.  The prior approval process is used where there are factors affecting the conversion that may require the approval process to be gone through despite the permitted development rights applicable.  This is usually where there are factors such as flood risk or access and other potential planning concerns which would override the presumption of permitted development.  Landowners will also be aware that permitted development rights will not apply to listed buildings or those within conservation areas.

The Planning team at Roythornes has extensive experience of advising upon the application and extent of permitted development rights and can assist with bringing forward development schemes pursuant to the permitted development regime for existing buildings and land.  Details of the Planning team can be found on the following link: