In a class of its own

Annie Helliwell
By Annie Helliwell

September 2020

If you are considering converting agricultural buildings, you may be familiar with Class Q, but did you know about Class R? Rural surveyor Annie Helliwell explains the difference

In a class of its own

In 2014 Class Q was introduced as part of the General Permitted Development Order, enabling a simplified approach to converting qualifying agricultural buildings to dwellings, an opportunity that many farmers have welcomed but have you come across Class R? Symonds & Sampson Rural Surveyor Annie Helliwell explains its uses. 

Class R is the lesser known alternative to Class Q that enables the conversion of qualifying agricultural buildings to a flexible commercial use which includes uses falling within Class A1 (shops), Class A2 (financial and professional services), Class A3 (restaurants and cafes), Class B1 (business), Class B8 (storage or distribution), Class C1 (hotels) and Class D2 (assembly and leisure).

Like Class Q, Class R is subject to its own criteria being met. Under Class R the building must have been used solely for the purpose of agriculture on an established agricultural unit since 3rd July 2012, or when it was last in use. Any building brought into use after this date will only qualify if it has been maintained in that use for a minimum of ten years. The cumulative floor space to be converted must not exceed 500 square meters and, depending on the area you wish to convert, the 56 day notice, to establish if Prior Approval is required, is not always needed. Finally, the building must not be used as a military explosives storage area, a safety hazard area, it must not be listed and it must not be a scheduled monument.

So why convert a farm building under Class R and not Class Q? There is one key difference between Class R and Class Q and that is the ability to utilise your Class R permitted development rights in designated areas such as AONBs and National parks where the use of Class Q is prohibited. There are of course other considerations such as location, local demand and financial considerations when considering the route of Class R however, in a time of uncertainty in agriculture, it is important to identify opportunities to maximise the potential in an asset and explore alternative, and potentially lucrative, income streams.

If you wish to discuss any planning opportunities please contact Annie Helliwell in our Salisbury office 01722 334323, or our team of Rural Professionals in one of our offices across Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon to discuss your options.

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