24 July 2013, Recently introduced planning rules that allow agricultural buildings to be used for a range of commercial uses without the need for planning permission have been welcomed by Carter Jonas. Richard Drew (Head of the Oxford Rural Team) commented:
"Diversification can provide farmers with an important source of additional income. The new Permitted Development Rights will make it much easier for agricultural buildings to be reused for a range of commercial uses - including shops, offices and cafes".
The new Permitted Development Rights were introduced on 30th May 2013 and allow for the conversion of up to 500 sq m of floorspace within an agricultural building (or buildings). The new Rights form part of a package of measures introduced by the Government to allow alternative uses in redundant or underutilised property. Ian Gillespie (Head of the Oxford Planning Team) commented:
"Alongside the Permitted Development Rights for change of use of agricultural buildings, we have also seen significant interest in the new Rights that allow offices to be converted to residential use. Whilst much of the media commentary has focused on large office buildings in urban areas, the new Rights also apply to smaller office buildings in rural areas - many of which may have been previously converted from traditional farm buildings".
However, Ian Gillespie added:
"It must be remembered that the new Permitted Development Rights only apply to changes of use. If material alterations to the external appearance of the building or its surroundings are needed, you may still need planning permission. For the new Rights in relation to reuse of agricultural buildings (where the building is between 150 sq m and 500 sq m), and for all proposals under the offices to residential Permitted Development Right, it will still be necessary to obtain the prior approval of the local planning authority. This is to ensure that the change would not have unacceptable adverse impacts on the local area, for example, in terms of traffic movements or noise".
"We are currently advising a range of clients on the implications of the new Permitted Development Rights, and have already submitted a number of prior notification applications to local planning authorities".
Carter Jonas has prepared a Briefing Note on the new Permitted Development Rights that allow a change of use of agricultural buildings to a range of commercial uses (linked here). This Briefing Note sets out the range of commercial uses permitted, the conditions and limitations that apply to the new Rights and the procedure for notifying the Local Planning Authority.