The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 allows for the change of use of an agricultural building and the land within its curtilage to ‘flexible commercial use’ where that use falls within a number of business uses, such as retail , financial and professional services, restaurants and cafes, business, storage or distribution, hotels or assembly and leisure uses. As we explained in our previous article regarding Class Q permitted developments, the change of use is a potentially lucrative additional income stream for the agricultural industry in addition to providing a more attractive environment for a business to call its home. This income could come from renting units out or selling the building with a change of use.
As with Class Q applications, a number of criteria must be met. For Class R, the building needs to have been solely in agricultural use on the 3rd July 2012, or when it was last in use. If brought into use after the 12th July 2012, it must have been maintained in that use for a minimum of ten years. The total cumulative floor area of the existing buildings within the planning unit must not exceed 500 square meters. The building must not be listed, a scheduled monument or sit within a safety hazard area, nor must it form part of an explosives storage area.
Development under Class R must only be undertaken AFTER approval is sought via a prior approval application to the Local Authority. We would advise involvement of a planning specialist at design stage- as early as possible in the decision-making process, in order that any decisions that are made consider potential lawful future uses from the start.
For buildings of more than 150 but less than 500 square meters of cumulative, existing floor space, the developer must submit a 56 day notice to the Planning Authority to ask if prior approval is required in relation to the transport and highways, and noise impacts of the development, any contamination or flood risks on the site. It is note worthy that if the LPA exceed the 56-day time limit required to decide, development or change of use can commence immediately providing that all other conditions of the Class are met.
Landowners who are considering development of any disused buildings must bear in mind that although a change of ‘use’ can be changed under these permitted development rights, any changes to the external make-up of the building are not, necessarily, permitted development, so a planning application may also be required before building work for alterations commence.
The introduction of Class R permitted rights has generally been well received by landowners and planning professionals. The generally positive effects of this change to government policy on improving rural economic development means that the options available to owners of additional agricultural barns have a variety of options for conversions. However, it is possible that Class R can not be used. The Rural Planning team at Howkins and Harrison are specialists in ‘change of use’ and complex rural planning matters. We have significant experience supporting landowners through; conversions and new build projects; farm diversification environmental improvement; equestrian, sporting and leisure projects; rural and agricultural business support and new agricultural or rural industrial buildings.
In the first instance, please contact our rural planning department by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01788 564680.