What can I do with my old agricultural buildings? A question often put to our rural agents. Nick Rymer has some suggestions
‘What can I do with my old agricultural buildings?’
This is a question we are often asked when out and about on farms. For many, traditional and redundant buildings can be a headache – requiring investment and repair whilst offering little or no financial return.
However, in recent years government has introduced measures aimed at making the re-use of buildings easier, and most Local Plans will also have a policy covering it.
The first thing to consider is what use best suits your needs? Perhaps a residential conversion? Or maybe some sort of commercial use – storage, offices or industrial. Factors such as access to and from the highway, location and surroundings will all be relevant in that decision.
Having decided on what use would work best for you, we must consider how best to obtain a planning consent. In short there are two options – a full planning application or, in certain circumstances, permitted development rights.
Changes to permitted development rights in recent years have allowed for the change of use of agricultural buildings to residential or commercial uses, providing that the proposal accords with the legislation. However, such rights are not available in every circumstance as the list of criteria is stringent.
Alternatively, one can apply under a full planning application which will be determined in the usual way.
Symonds and Sampson have successfully secured the change of use of buildings across our region. One of our most recent successes was a full planning application to convert three traditional buildings to dwellings which included successfully arguing that they were not ‘curtilage listed’ as the council had previously argued. This was a combined effort by our Agricultural and Building Surveying Teams.
There have also been numerous applications under permitted development ‘Class Q’ to change buildings to residential dwellings. Once the change of use is secured, it is now possible to apply to replace the agricultural building entirely rather than convert it. This is known as the ‘Fall Back’ position. In short, because the council have accepted that there will be a new dwelling at the location, they are willing to consider allowing a new build instead that is likely to be cheaper, more attractive and more energy efficient.
Class R of the General Permitted Development Order (Agricultural to commercial use) also offers a quicker route to establishing a commercial use on the farm without the rigmarole of a full application.
Whatever use you would like to achieve; it is important to consider the best application method. In the longer term, it is also important to make sure that such buildings are kept in good repair and not allowed to fall into such disrepair as to be considered derelict as this can severely impede the chances of gaining consent. In no circumstances should a building be demolished without having first gained a planning consent.