Yes, the title of this article is designed to raise your eyebrows and draw a number of questions….. …..
We are constantly advising clients on their likelihood (or not) of being able to build their own house in the countryside; generally planning policy is very protective over the open countryside, for the benefit of us all, and does not support everyone’s dream of building the idyllic rural home.
No doubt you will have seen many articles lauding the benefits of the permitted development rules allowing the conversion of agricultural buildings to dwellings under Class Q of Part 3, Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.
Consent under Class Q has a number of limitations, including the extent of the works to convert the building and the area of curtilage permitted. But not least, the requirement to complete the conversion within 3 years, as opposed to a full planning permission which allows you to commence the development within 3 years, thus securing your permission without further deadlines.
In many instances, where buildings are granted consent for conversion, the works required to create a home to modern standards may be easier to complete in theory than in practice. The size and layout of redundant agricultural buildings may also not be the most practical when considering an alternative residential use.
Enter: the option to apply for full planning permission, on a site which would never be granted consent in usual circumstances. Planning policy is clear about planning strategy, but recognises that sometimes “material considerations indicate otherwise.”
A consent for conversion under Class Q can be ‘upgraded’ to a full planning permission to replace the existing buildings with new-build houses which are more sympathetic to their surroundings and more sustainable; both of which are key considerations for planning.
The case of Mansell v Tonbridge and Malling BC  clarified the principle that planners should have regard to any realistic ‘fallback’ position of lawful development which has a good prospect of being implemented, when considering applications for new development. We have seen a number of permissions and appeals granted under this scenario and are able to offer advice and assistance with the preparation of appropriate applications and supporting documents to anyone seeking to explore the potential of their rural buildings.