Government plans to let farm buildings switch to housing without planning

Redundant agricultural buildings could be converted to homes, schools or nurseries without planning permission under government proposals for new permitted development rights published yesterday.  
Article by Michael Donnelly in Planning.
The proposed changes to the use class rules follow previous amendments which allowed for agricultural buildings to be changed to commercial use. 
The consultation document published yesterday seeks view on five proposals for permitted development rights to allow:
  1. Shops and financial and professional services to change use to a dwelling house.
  2. Existing buildings used for agricultural purposes of up to 150 square metres to change to residential use.
  3. Retail uses to change to banks and building societies only.
  4. Premises used as offices, hotels, residential and non-residential institutions, and leisure and assembly to be able to change use to nurseries providing childcare.
  5. A building used for agricultural purposes of up to 500 square metres to be used as a new state funded school or a nursery providing childcare.
Further details on the proposed changes to retail uses can be found here.
The document says that, in framing a new permitted development right for an agricultural building to change to residential use (C3) with the associated physical development to allow conversion, it is proposed that the right would:
  1. Allow up to 3 additional dwelling houses (which includes flats) to be converted on an agricultural unit which existed at the time that the intention to consult was announced in the Budget Statement of 20 March 2013.
  2. Have an upper threshold of 150 square metres for a single dwelling house;
  3. Enable the physical development necessary to allow for the conversion, and where appropriate the demolition and rebuild, of the property on the same footprint;
  4. Require local planning authority prior approval for siting and design to ensure physical development complies with local plan policies on design, materials and outlook;
  5. Require local planning authority prior approval for transport and highways impact, noise impact, contamination and flooding risks to ensure that change of use takes place only in sustainable locations;
  6. Apply to agricultural buildings constructed prior to announcement of the proposal to consult in the Budget Statement of 20 March 2013;
  7. Apply in article 1(5) land as set out in the General Permitted Development Order (i.e. conservation areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Broads and World Heritage sites).
The consultation also proposes bringing forward provisions “for allowing change of use to state-funded schools as well as nurseries providing childcare”. It says that the permitted development would “allow for change of use with prior approval where the gross floorspace of the building is less than 500 square metres”.
It says that the prior approval “will cover noise, transport, flooding and contamination”.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said the proposals would support “working parents in rural communities by allowing for the provision of new schools and nurseries, meaning families can continue to live in their rural community, and protect the countryside by ensuring previously developed land is used first”.
The consultation closes on 15 October 2013     Michael Donnelly in

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