The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment and Consequential Provisions) (England) Order 2014 came into force on 6 April. Among other changes it allows conversion of agricultural buildings to residential use, though in England only.
The new class MB authorises the change of use of a building and any land within its curtilage from use as an agricultural building to a use falling within Use Class C3 (dwelling-houses). It also introduces deemed consent for works reasonably necessary to convert the building to residential use.
In principle the changes to the permitted development regime offer great prospects for achieving valuable new uses for old agricultural buildings, particularly those where planning permission has been refused in the past. However, such rights need to be carefully considered and advice sought on their usefulness in all cases, as the new rights are subject to some important caveats.
1. Development is not permitted where the site was not used solely for an agricultural use, as part of an established agricultural unit on 20th March 2013 or, if the site was not in use on that date, when it was last in use before that date. More recent agricultural buildings might qualify for residential conversion in future if the agricultural use has continued for ten years before the date the change to residential use begins.
2. The order prevents a change of use where the building has itself been erected under agricultural permitted development rights after March 2013 (unless 10 years have elapsed). So it is not possible to erect new agricultural buildings or extend them and convert them soon afterwards.
3. The total amount of floor space of existing buildings changing use within an established agricultural unit must not exceed 450 square metres, with a limit of three separate dwelling houses within an established agricultural unit.
4. Change of is NOT permitted if the site is occupied under an agricultural tenancy, unless the consent of the landlord and the tenant has been obtained. Furthermore conversion is not permitted if less than 12 months has elapsed since an agricultural tenancy has been terminated, and the termination was to permit carrying out development under Class MB.
5. The right to undertake alterations to the building reasonably necessary to convert the building to residential use, is restricted to works that would not result in an increase in the external dimensions of the converted building. Examples of the type of building works that are allowed include installation of windows, doors, roofs, or exterior walls, or water, drainage, electricity, gas or other services, to the extent reasonably necessary for the building to function as a dwelling house.
6. The rights are not available in a National Park, the Broads, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a Conservation Area or a World Heritage Site or if the site is or forms part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a designated safety hazard area, a military explosives storage area, or if the site is, or contains, a scheduled ancient monument or is a Listed Building.
The permitted development rights are subject to two separate prior notification processes; one for the change of use and one for the building works. Before commencing development, the developer must apply to the planning authority for a determination as to whether the prior approval of the authority will be required as to:
(a) Transport and highways impacts of the development;
(b) Noise impacts of the development;
(c) Contamination risks on the site;
(d) Flooding risks on the site; or
(e) Whether the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to residential use.
Such prior notification procedures can be complex and need to be carefully handled, as they offer the planning authority some considerable control over developments, particularly considering criterion (e) above.
PWA Planning can offer detailed advice and guidance and can make such prior notification applications to the planning authority at relatively modest costs.
For more information and to arrange an informal discussion, please contact PWA Planning on 01772 369669.