Class R: agricultural barn to commercial use (the Clarkson Clause)

Class R allows for the conversion of agricultural buildings into commercial units without planning permission. Dubbed the Clarkson Clause, or Clarkson’s Law, following Jeremy Clarkson’s battle with West Oxfordshire District Council in his series Clarkson's Farm - Class R policy has recently changed and is unlocking new opportunities in agricultural units.

May 31, 2024

Fancy converting disused barns and agricultural buildings on a farmstead into eateries and shops without planning permission? You’ll want to get the grips with Class R.

Belonging to a series of policies collectively called Permitted Development Rights, Class R provides a pretty seamless way for developers, investors and landowners to monetise disused assets on land without having to go through the red tape of planning permission.

What's more - it can even unlock lucrative development opportunities on Green Belt land, which is notoriously difficult to develop on.

While it has not been as well-publicised as the similar Permitted Development Right (PDR) known as Class Q, which allows for the conversion of barns into homes, Class R has gained more public attention recently.

Class R: The Clarkson Clause

This increased awareness is due in part to a highly publicised dispute between Jeremy Clarkson and West Oxfordshire District Council featured on his Amazon series, Clarkson's Farm.

If you're a fan of the series, you'll likely recall the infamous moment when Diddly Squat's rustic restaurant was shut down. Despite Jeremy's determined efforts to contest the council's decision, the planning application was ultimately rejected.

Well, things have changed, following an update to Class R rules in May 2024.

Changes to Class R (updated May 2024)

Class R – allows for change of use from an agricultural building (and land within its curtilage) in England to flexible commercial use – i.e. uses falling within the following use classes:

  • Class B2 (general industrial) ( raw goods, excluding livestock, which are produced on the site and are to be sold on the site)
  • Class B8 (storage or distribution)
  • Class C1 (hotels)
  • Class E (commercial, business or service)
  • Class F2(c) (outdoor sport & recreation) from 21st May 2024
  • The provision of agricultural training from 21st May 2024

If you're looking for an office, gym, café, hotel, or storage space in the countryside, Class R permitted development could be an ideal solution for you.

But like Class Q developments, it must tick some boxes:

  • The building to be converted needs to have been solely in agricultural use for the last 10 years or more
  • The total cumulative floor area of the existing building/s must not exceed 1000 sqm
  • The building/s  must not be: a listed building, a scheduled monument, a safety hazard area, or an explosives storage area
  • It can however be in a National Park, AONB, Conservation area etc.
  • The building does not need to be redundant.

A screenshot of a Class R sourcing search in Searchland
Searching for suitable Class R projects in Searchland

As ever, if you’d like to know more about the policy, we’d recommend heading over to our friends at Planning Geek who advised Jeremy Clarkson at the time - and if you are interested in sourcing suitable Class R opportunities let’s get you started on Searchland.

July 9, 2024

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