The new Permitted Development rights, which only apply in England and come into effect from 6 April 2014, will allow the conversion of buildings up to 450 sq metres to create a maximum of three dwellings per holding.
The new rights will not be available for buildings in designated areas such as National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).
Listed buildings are also excluded and buildings used for equine uses are generally not considered “agricultural” in planning terms.
To qualify for the new Permitted Development rights, the buildings must have been “used solely for an agricultural use, as part of an agricultural unit on 20 March 2013”.
Buildings brought into use after that date can only be converted once they have been used for agricultural purposes for 10 years.
The installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs, or exterior walls, or water, drainage, electricity, gas or other services will be allowed to the extent reasonably necessary for the building to function as a house.
“Partial demolition” will also be permitted “to the extent reasonably necessary to carry out building operations”.
This would seem to preclude knocking down barns and rebuilding on their footprints as had originally been proposed.
This could make a meaningful change to the building industry and bring some additional investment in to the countryside