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Guest Blog - Douglas Godwin, Agricultural Solicitor

Redundant Farm Buildings - No longer a redundant asset

New permitted development rights and prior approval for conversion of redundant farm buildings is now available to farmers and land owners in England with a recent relaxation of planning rules.  This is part of the government’s measures to encourage the use of buildings and investment in rural communities whilst encouraging the building trade generally. 

Farmers and land owners no longer need or have to apply for full planning consent for the change of use and conversion of redundant buildings that are now of little use to modern agriculture due to their size, location and inability to mechanise for their efficient use.  However they do have to notify their local authority of their intention to convert, to determine whether prior approval is still needed. 

I have recently made a successful application to Wychavon District Council.  The Council has to give a decision within 56 days,therefore, if there are no complicated factors the conversion of the property can begin without the delay and expense of a full planning application. 

There are restrictions which apply, the conversion must not be more than 450 square metres and must not create more than three dwellings per agricultural holding.  Additional restrictions apply to areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks. Sites of scientific interest are excluded as are listed buildings.  Buildings used for stables and other equine activities may be rejected since their last purpose was not solely agricultural, however this should not deter owners from applying particularly if the building is part of an agricultural unit. 

It is also noted that within the current 56 day ruling period if the local authority hasn’t responded you are allowed to go ahead and start work, however, as solicitors we would prefer to have written confirmation before our clients start conversion work. 

Douglas Godwin is a Solicitor and former Tenant Farmer who specialises in agricultural, commercial property, development and planning law and landlord and tenant matters.  He also has experience in environmental issues including energy production, wind turbines, telecommunication masts, river law and private water supplies. 

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