Keep up to date with the latest McCartneys news

Government consults on changes to permitted development rights

Mon 4 September 2023

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has recently announced a consultation which could see major expansions to permitted development rights, particularly for residential conversions. If adopted, the proposed changes will be the biggest shake-up of the GPDO since 2015, and would introduce more opportunities for converting buildings to residential use as well as for farm diversification.

The consultation is the first stage of a long process to become legislation, and runs until 25th September 2023. McCartneys plans to make representations to the consultation, mostly in support of the proposed changes.

The consultation can be accessed online here.

We summarise changes below that could create the biggest opportunities for our clients below.

Enhanced opportunities under Class Q

Class Q allows for the conversion of redundant agricultural buildings to dwellings. In its current form, Class Q allows for the creation of up to 5 dwellings of a cumulative maximum of 865sqm, achieved through combining ‘smaller’ dwellings (100sqm and below) with ‘larger’ dwellings (over 100 sqm).

The consultation proposes to double the overall maximum number of dwellings to 10, with a maximum area of 1,000 square metres. The biggest potential shake up however is the separation of ‘larger’ and ‘smaller’ dwellings is proposed to be replaced with a single maximum of either 100 or 150sqm per home. Significantly reducing the maximum dwelling size currently permitted.

It is also proposed that the current requirement for a building to have last been solely in agricultural use will be removed, allowing buildings which have been used for other purposes, such as equestrian or storage, to be afforded Class Q rights. This would be a much welcomed change, as many landowners are currently able to neither use or convert redundant buildings because of the strict rules around their historic use.

A further surprising, proposed addition to the Class Q legislation is the potential introduction of extensions to the rear elevation of the barn. Currently, only the building itself can be converted, with no parts (including window cills etc) permitted to extend beyond the existing footprint of the building. Introducing a single storey rear extension of no more than 4m deep would be a fairly radical change from the current regulations. Note, the extension would only be possible on previously developed land, i.e. farmyard hardstanding.

In addition to these major changes, the government are also seeking to introduce a minimum dwelling size of 37sqm and allowing Class Q development on article 2(3) land (such as national parks, AONBs, conservation areas etc.). There is also a proposal to expand Class Q rights to buildings in other uses such as forestry and equestrian buildings.

Tweaks to agricultural permitted development rights

Tweaks are proposed to agricultural permitted development rights, with an increase in total floor area proposed, from 1,000sqm to 1,500sqm for new buildings under Class A (larger agricultural units) and to 1,250 for extensions to buildings under Class B (smaller units).

Expanded Class R rights

Class R currently allows agricultural buildings to change to flexible commercial use, (which is limited in its scope). It is proposed to add new uses to allow greater farm diversification. Consideration is also being given to encouraging more mixed uses, which is currently not possible under Class R. There will be an increase from 500 to 1,000 sqm for the total area which can change use, and views are being sought on whether to remove the need for prior approval (i.e. an application) for certain changes.

Our thoughts

The proposed changes to the Class Q legislation are generally promising, and could remove some of the unnecessary hurdles currently faced by many applicants.

An increase in the number of dwellings but a reduction in their size will help to deliver smaller, more affordable homes and discourage a proliferation in executive converted barns, but could affect some applicants wish to convert due to potential highways and other social impacts.

Introducing flexibility around agricultural use is the biggest gain, and the ability to convert stable blocks, barns which have temporarily been used as storage etc would open up many new opportunities for redundant buildings, which would be welcome.

The other proposed changes, whilst generally limited will generally be helpful to promote rural economy.

Contact us to discuss further - 01544 230 316 (3) 01584 813 766

Back to listings