Consultation on proposed new barn-conversion regulations
Farmers could soon be able to convert barns for residential use without specific planning permission, in a move put forward by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The proposals, Greater Flexibility for Change of Use, were published last week and the Department is inviting comments on proposals that would allow farmers to change the use of existing buildings to residential without specific consent.
The NFU described the proposals, which could see farmers able to make their own assessment of how farm buildings should be used, as radical.
"These exciting proposals are about putting trust in farmers to do the right thing with their buildings", said NFU chief rural affairs adviser David Collier. "They will allow farmers to make their own assessment of how buildings should be used, and enable them to meet their own needs. With the possibility to more easily convert barns, this will help enable business succession – with a new home for a retiring farmer or the next generation, for example – as well as meeting the needs of the market.
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"If the proposals are confirmed there will be more opportunities for people to move into the countryside to live, or to enjoy holiday accommodation."
But he added: "There will be stringent precautions to ensure that a small minority of people are not tempted to abuse the concession. The liberalisation will apply only to buildings already in existence when the proposal was first made in the 2013 Budget. And anyone who converts a barn will lose their agricultural permitted development rights for a decade."
The NFU will consult its members on the details of the proposals and submit its considered views to the Department for Communities and Local Government in October.