Fast Track Conversions

Have you ever looked at a barn or building in the countryside and thought that would make an amazing home, then thought about the hoops you would have to jump through to actually secure permission to convert it? Well think again, in some instances you can fast track conversions without the need to secure planning permission to convert a building to residential use.

Under Part 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development Order) England, GPDO for short, there are a multitude of uses (retail, launderette, betting shop, offices, amusement arcade, casino, storage or distribution centres, premises in light industry, agricultural buildings, etc) which can be converted to residential as ‘Permitted Development’ without planning permission.

This article has been updated in light of the 2024 changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended).

Naturally there is a range of exclusions and limitations which apply to these permitted development rights, and each use proposed to be changed has a different set of conditions which must be adhered to.

The ‘green light’ given to convert specific uses to residential has seen an increase in growth of conversions, particularly agricultural buildings in the countryside. However, with the Government encouraging the creation of more housing, permitted development rights have recently been increased.

Permitted development rights now allows a maximum of 10 new houses to be created from existing buildings on a farm (and agricultural unit). Previously this was restricted to 5 properties. The amendments which came into force in May 2024  permit the development of:

  • The cumulative number of separate dwellinghouses can not exceed 10;
  • The floor space of any individual dwellinghouse developed under Class Q can not exceed 150 square metres; and
  • The cumulative floor space of dwellinghouses can not exceed 1,000 square metres.

Notwithstanding if you believe your agricultural conversion may be permitted development you will still need to contact your local planning authority and embark on a prior approval process. Prior approval means that a developer has to seek approval from the local planning authority that specified elements of the development are acceptable before work can proceed ‘in effect a ‘light-touch’ planning application.

Also, be aware that development carried out using permitted development rights can still be liable to pay a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), if there is a community levy in place and if the development does not qualify for an exemption.

As well as the potential to create you dream home in the countryside (or maximise land and development value), there are many ways to circumvent the need for planning permission for extensions, alterations, change of use, temporary buildings and uses etc.  However, interpreting the regulations which set out what can and can’t be done via permitted development rights can be daunting so if in doubt ask an expert.

Related Content

Our Practical Guide to Class Q Barn Conversions helps you understand the type of work that typically complies with permitted development rights and which processes you’ll likely have to go through.

Sometimes you don’t need a Town Planner but of you need some help unravelling the red tape – that’s our speciality so feel free to CONTACT US.

Permitted Development Rights
Permitted Development Rights Interpretation