New regulations allow conversion of farm buildings

New regulations allow conversion of farm buildings

New permitted development rights (PDR) will allow the conversion of unused buildings into commercial and domestic buildings, without the need for a planning application. 

The proposals 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. 

Furthermore, farms may now expand the number and size of buildings on site, again 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. 

Commenting on the new regulations, 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.

“At Lanpro, 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.”

In summary, the changes announced will: 

  • Double the amount of floorspace that can change from agricultural to ‘flexible commercial use’ from 500 square metres to 1,000 square metres.  
  • Increase the size of new buildings or extensions that can be built on farms over 5 hectares from 1,000 square metres to 1,500 square metres. 
  • For smaller farms increase the size of such development from 1,000 square metres to 1,250 square metres. 
  • Double the number of homes that can be delivered through the conversion of agricultural buildings from five to 10. 
  • Protect nationally important archaeological sites (scheduled monuments) by removing the ability for extensions to be built and new buildings erected in the vicinity. 

Lanpro’s Planning, Heritage and Architecture teams have 15 years of experience in rural developments of all types across England. The teams, based throughout the country, frequently advises landowners on the options available to them and then support them in gaining planning consents.  

For more information about Lanpro visit

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