It’s now easier to convert disused agricultural buildings into residential properties following changes to the rural planning system announced in June this year. Whether you’re considering converting a single barn or a larger development of agricultural buildings, it pays to know what this change will allow. In this blog post, we discuss Class Q and how you can apply for it.
What is Class Q planning?
Class Q planning permission is a type of permission that allows you to develop agricultural buildings into residential dwellings. This includes converting barns, stables, and other agricultural buildings into homes. Class Q is a relatively new planning permission class, introduced in 2015.
What buildings and land qualify for Class Q?
According to legislation.gov.uk, to qualify for Class Q, the building must:
- Be an existing agricultural building of more than 10 years
- Have been used for agricultural purposes in the past
- Not be listed
- Not be located in a National Park, the Broads, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or a World Heritage Site
The land on which the building is located must:
- Be a minimum of 0.45 hectares
- Not be in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Park, or World Heritage Site
The full legislation can be found here.
What does Class Q permission allow you to do currently?
According to legislation.gov.uk, Class Q permission currently allows you to:
- Convert an existing agricultural building into up to five dwellings
- Create new build homes within the curtilage of the agricultural building, providing that they are ancillary to the conversion (for example, a garage or carport)
- Demolish all or part of an existing agricultural building
- Make external alterations to the agricultural building, including adding windows and doors
Full details can be found here.
2023 will see the the period for a redundant barn qualifying for Class Q will be on a rolling ten-year period from the point of construction to ensure that buildings are not initially built for the purpose of conversion to residential.
How to apply for Class Q
Class Q planning permission is applied for in the same way as other types of planning permission. You will need to submit a planning application to your local authority, along with any required supporting documents and fees.
How long does a Class Q decision take?
According to legislation.gov.uk, your local planning authority is obliged to respond within 56 days of submitting your prior approval application.
How can FOLK2FOLK help?
Many of our agricultural customers come to FOLK2FOLK because they have found traditional lenders reluctant to provide finance for activities outside of a core farming business. An interest-only loan from FOLK2FOLK for up to five years and secured against property/land enables projects to go ahead.
I thought I could only convert an old barn into a retail space, or a holiday let?
Class Q was introduced in 2014 as a form of committed development designed to help ease the pressure on housing in rural areas. This type of planning permission allows the change of buildings that meets certain criteria from agricultural to residential use.
Can I demolish part of the barn and re-build it?
According to legislation.gov.uk Yes, you can but not beyond the original footprint. Fundamentally, the existing building, in structural terms, must be capable of functioning as a dwelling. If substantial building work is required, then it may be considered a new build, which would fall outside the scope of Class Q.
Are there any restrictions on the size of dwellings created?
Yes. the maximum number of dwellings is five, covering a maximum area of 865 msq. You can have ‘smaller dwelling houses’ or ‘larger’ dwelling houses or a combination of both. For full restrictions and legislation, details look here.
Can I increase the height of a barn to create more space?
No, any development must remain in the same scope as the existing building, in both footprint and height.