26 May


Conversion of Agricultural Buildings, within the National Park?

The April 2015 legislation for the conversation of existing agricultural buildings to dwellinghouses is now become firmly established in that provided the unit was being used for agriculture on the 20th March 2013 and subsequently for at least 10 years, there is a possibility of changing up to 450 metres squared into a maximum of 3 residential units under what is called Class Q – Agricultural buildings to dwellinghouses.

There are other restrictions which include the external dimensions of the development must not extend beyond the external dimensions of the existing building. The installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs, exterior walls, water, drainage, electricity, gas or other services to the extent necessary reasonably for the building to function as a dwellinghouse. Any partial demolition that is necessary to carry out the above can also be completed.

The local planning authority however are able to determine the change of use, taking into account transport and highways impact, noise impact, contamination risks, flooding risks, design or external appearance and location or siting which makes it otherwise impractical and or undesirable. This has been the subject of much discussion and has prevented some buildings from being converted into dwellinghouses, although challenges are beginning to be made to some of the decisions.

This therefore is an interesting way of capitalising older underused agricultural buildings to create on the one hand more units which the local planning authority will always be pleased to see whilst on the other hand for the owner it could produce a lump sum which in these rather difficult times might be attractive. It should be noted that this is a one off piece of legislation and restrictions are placed on other planning matters at the subject property.

The key issue is whether or not these rules and regulations are able to be applied to properties inside the Exmoor National Park. There are on going constant arguments both for and against for this matter, but it is entirely possible that building within the Exmoor National Park subject to the stringent regulations as above may be possible in the future.

Clearly areas of outstanding natural beauty, sites of special scientific interest and areas which contain a schedule monument are all currently excluded as indeed are listed buildings which does restrict the use of the planning policy. A decision is expected imminently and Nancekivell & Co have sold a number of properties under the original planning policy and as this policy matures there are likely to be far more properties available once planning has been given consent.

Peter Nancekivell has been operating in North Devon for the last 25 years as a Chartered Surveyor and runs owns rural and agricultural land agency in South Molton.

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