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Barn conversions to get boost from permitted development

The RIBA released this statement today:

Planning Minister Nick Boles has confirmed that new permitted development rights will allow the conversion of ‘redundant or under-used’ agricultural buildings to homes, but will not apply in national parks or areas of outstanding local beauty.

Barns of up to 450 square metres will be allowed to convert into a maximum of three homes, subject to a prior approval process.

The new rights have not come into effect yet. Boles’s statement, issued alongside his announcement of the launch of National Planning Policy Guidance, was effectively the government’s response to last summer’s consultation.

The Minister did not comment on whether last year’s proposal to allow for demolition and rebuilding on the same footprint had been accepted.

Boles had already reassured MPs that the government had listened to their concerns over inappropriate conversions in specially designated areas, but he stressed once again that he expects to see national parks and other local authorities taking a positive and proactive approach to conversion requests from now on.

Planning experts say they do not expect a wave of barn conversions to have any great effect on housing supply, but for small practices active in rural areas the imminent development rights could provide a significant opportunity.

Meanwhile, the government-endorsed Self Build Portal, maintained by the National Self Build Association, predicts that the change of use relaxation will generate ‘tens of thousands’ of opportunities for self builders as farmers offer up their derelict buildings.

There was also confirmation from Boles that new permitted developments will allow shops not located in ‘key shopping areas’ to be converted into homes ‘to help breathe new life into areas that are declining due to changing shopping habits’.

Shop conversions will not be as simple and straightforward as many anticipated, however, as Boles wants to ensure that checks and balances are in place to prevent the loss of valuable local services.
The minister said local authorities will be allowed to refuse conversion if they can demonstrate that the loss of a particular shop would have a detrimental impact on the sustainability of a shopping area or on local services.

The new rights will allow change of use from retail (A1) and financial and professional services (A2) to homes. Shops will also be able to convert to banks, building societies and credit unions – but not betting shops or payday loan shops.

It remains to be seen when this change to the legislation may appear, but indications are that it will be in April 2014. We have had a number of enquiries from new clients in relation to the change in legislation and feel we are well placed to act swiftly, in conjunction with a local planning consultant, once the exact wording of the permitted development changes are released.

If you are thinking about embarking on your own barn conversion please get in touch for some friendly advice on planning, designing and creating a project that will exceed all your expectations.

Allister Godfrey RIBA
01235 760693

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