Information has recently been issued in regard to proposals to significantly alter the ‘permitted development rights’ for agricultural buildings & rural communities. It is proposed that the alterations are to be implemented from April 2014. Jonathan Braddick Chartered Architects practice across Devon and Somerset and as such have been investigating the likely effect that the proposed changes will have on our clients, many of whom are agricultural land owners and or developers of agricultural buildings across the south west region.

If implemented the proposed reforms would permit the following conversions: -

  • agricultural to residential: this may be a very good thing in order to help agricultural and rural communities to benefit from the provision of more affordable homes by re-using making redundant barns and other agricultural buildings

  • agricultural to new schools & nurseries: this may benefit working parents in rural communities by providing new local easily accessible schools & nurseries.  

  • retail to residential: this would allow the provision of new homes, helping to address the current issues of supply and demand and also help to ensure that better use is made of commercial buildings that are no longer financially viable. 

The Government states that the reforms may result in more flexibility within the existing planning system and help to reduce the amount of bureaucracy in local authority planning departments, at the same time as providing the necessary protection of our countryside and open green spaces.

The proposed reforms, for altering a properties use from agricultural to residential, includes buildings up 150 square meters. Agricultural buildings of up to 500 square meters may be converted into schools or nurseries.

The Department for Local Governments & Communities’ press release states:-

“The scope of the permitted development will be sufficient to provide for the conversion such as new frontage, windows and doors. There will be prior approval in respect of design, the potential impact of the loss of the retail unit on the economic health of the town centre, the need to maintain an adequate provision of essential local services such as post offices, and the potential impact of the change of use on the character of the local area.”

The proposed reform to ‘permitted development rights’ for agricultural buildings in Devon and Somerset may represent a very positive opportunity for rural communities across the south west.

At Jonathan Braddick Chartered Architects Devon we work with many clients in rural communities and locations where there is often a great frustration in regard to the shortage of local affordable housing. Hopefully these proposed reforms to the permitted development rules will help our clients greatly.

For more advice and information from an Architect on what this may offer for your property development, please contact Jonathan Braddick Chartered Architects Devon on 01395 265768 or