Yesterday the Government announced the start of a three month consultation into proposed changes to the Permitted Development regulations which would help bring empty farm buildings back into use and secure jobs in rural areas. The proposals are part of a wider consultation on changes to Permitted Development rights and the Use Classes Order, aimed at kick-starting sustainable economic growth through maximising the use of redundant buildings.
The Government is proposing to allow redundant agricultural buildings to be changed into other ‘low impact’ business uses without the need for planning permission. The proposed changes would allow redundant barns and other agricultural buildings to be converted into uses such as workshops, offices, storage facilities, food processing centres, cafes, hotels and leisure facilities. Currently such changes would require planning permission and are often met with resistance from local planning authorities as the rural location may be perceived as unsustainable or local planning policies may require such uses to be located in urban areas. This approach makes it difficult for farmers and rural landowners to maximise the opportunities for diversification, put redundant buildings to use and provide much needed rural employment opportunities.
Whilst the Government consultation on changes is welcomed, the practicalities with implementing such permitted development changes will not be straight forward and introducing Permitted Development rights subject to a raft of conditions and limitations may result in a more complicated system for landowners to face than that currently in place. Rural Solutions will be responding to the Government consultation and will continue to monitor and update on its progression.