Class Q Residential Barn Conversions


In 2014 the Government introduced new rules under the GPDO (under Class Q) which for the first time allowed as “permitted development” the residential use of existing farm buildings of any age to residential use subject to a number of qualifying criteria.

The General Permitted Development Order has been amended to allow buildings under Class Q to be converted up to five residential units (three of which are classified “large” and cumulatively you must not exceed 465 sq. m of floor area: a further two “small” dwellings each with a floor area not exceeding 100 sq. m are now allowed - total resulting floor area of 665 sq. m) per holding under Permitted Development. There is a Prior Approval procedure requiring applicants to notify the Local Planning Authority with 56 days’ notice to allow them time to assess eligibility of buildings.

The LPA will only allow permitted development if the following criteria are met:

  • The building must have been solely in agricultural use on 20th March 2013, or if vacant the last use must have been so – this has been taken by appeal inspectors to mean that any significant degree of domestic, commercial or equestrian use would disqualify the building from Permitted Development.
  • The building must not be listed or be in the curtilage of a listed building;
  • The building must not be within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or National Park
  • The building must not be in a safety hazard area;
  • The proposal must be accompanied by an Impact Statement to show there is nothing adverse in terms of noise, contamination, flood or highways impact;
  • The proposal must not extend the structure of the building beyond its existing dimensions;
  • The proposal must not introduce any new structural elements to the building in other words the existing walls and possibly the existing roof trusses must be strong enough to support the fabric of the building and it is questionable about whether the introduction of a first floor would be allowed;
  • The curtilage of the new dwelling must be no larger than the footprint of the existing building. This however would not prevent additional land being occupied with the dwelling provided this was not garden land;
  • The proposal must not be considered impractical or undesirable by the local planning authority.
  • Since April 2018 Class Q permitted development has been expanded to include up to 5 dwellings / holdings totalling 665m2 floor area converted, of which the 3 largest of these must not exceed a total of 465m2 floor area.

You will be aware that interpretation of these criteria differs between different Council Planning Authorities and East Devon District Council has been particularly strict in their application of the rules as they see them.

LPAs are supposed to be guided by the MHCLG Guidelines (and by Case Law) and recently new guidance has been issued with regard to the degree of structural work that can be included in the building operations proposed. The new guidelines do make clear however, that new internal structural work such as the insertion of mezzanine or upper floors as well as any internal walls will be permitted as part of a PD conversion. It has also been made clear by most LPAs that where the primary structural elements of a building have deteriorated to a point where they can no longer take the loading likely to be required in a conversion, repairs can be carried out before the PN application is submitted. The distinction between repairs and new work must be determined on a case by case basis.

If you have a Planning issue, we would be happy to visit and see the proposals. We are able to undertake a full drawing and design service, which is competitively price when compared to the average architect fee. We are also involved with the sale and purchase of building plots, barns for conversion and other development opportunities and have contacts with a number of developers throughout the south west.


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