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New regulations allow the conversion of farm buildings

From 21 May new permitted development rights (PDR) allow the conversion of unused buildings into homes, shops, cafés, sports facilities and a variety of other commercial uses, without the need for a planning application. 

The proposals form part of the government’s Long-term Plan for Housing, announced last July. According to Government figures, just 5,000 homes have been delivered on farming land since April 2014 and the proposals intend to increase both the number homes and the number of job opportunities.

Furthermore, farms may now expand the number and size of buildings on site, again without the need for a planning application: the size limit for new farm buildings erected under agricultural development PD rights on farms over 5 hectares has increased by 500sqm to 1,500sqm, and for farms under 5 hectares by 250sqm to 1,250sqm. The volume allowance for extensions may also increase to 25% (from 20%) without the need for prior approval.

Aidan Van de Weyer, senior planner at Lanpro in Cambridge, said: “These reforms are very welcome as they bring greater flexibility to the use of rural buildings. By bringing in new residents and supporting local businesses, conversions of rural buildings – those which are currently not suitable for modern farming operations - will support the long-term vitality of countryside communities.”

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