Permitted Development Rights – Agricultural use to Dwellings

May 2016 - Thoughts - previous page

In April 2014 the government introduced a new Permitted Development Right [PDR] to allow, under certain conditions, the conversion of agricultural buildings for flexible use, educational use and residential use.  However, it was felt that conditions and wording of the guidance to the order gave too much discretion to Local Authorities to turn down applications.

The subsequent revisions to the PDR made in March 2015 made clear the the terms ‘impractical or undesirable’ were not defined in the regulations, local authorities ‘…should apply a reasonable ordinary dictionary meaning in making any judgment. Impractical reflects that the location and siting would “not be sensible or realistic”, and undesirable reflects that it would be “harmful or objectionable”.’

The guidance continues stating, ‘When considering whether it is appropriate for the change of use to take place in a particular location, a local planning authority should start from the premise that the permitted development right grants planning permission, subject to the prior approval requirements. That an agricultural building is in a location where the local planning authority would not normally grant planning permission for a new dwelling is not a sufficient reason for refusing prior approval.’

Most importantly to decision making the guidance makes clear that, ‘When a local authority considers location and siting it should not therefore be applying tests from the National Planning Policy Framework except to the extent these are relevant to the subject matter of the prior approval. So, for example, factors such as whether the property is for a rural worker, or whether the design is of exceptional quality or innovative, are unlikely to be relevant.’

So perhaps in the forthcoming years there may be more opportunities to appropriately make use of these ‘new’, more clearly defined rights.

Connected with this order I would like to see more emphasis given to the quality of design to the final scheme, just as all new buildings.  Agricultural buildings are often remotely located and detached making the design of their conversion very important to appropriately address their immediate and local contexts, and their individual histories.

Guidance on this can be found on the governments website here:

The PDF of the order can be found here: