10
 min read

Class Q - Converting Barns to Homes (even in the Green Belt)

Class Q allows for the conversion of agricultural buildings to houses without the need to apply for planning permission. ‍This includes the change of use of a building or any land within its curtilage, including the building operations reasonably necessary to convert the building, to Use Class C3 (dwelling houses).

Published on
July 20, 2022

TLDR: 

Agricultural to Residential. This PD right should be on your watch list because it takes buildings that are typically hard to gain permission due to their remote locations and gives them a viable route to planning. 

What is Class Q

Class Q allows for the conversion of agricultural buildings to houses without the need to apply for planning permission. 

This includes the change of use of a building or any land within its curtilage, including the building operations reasonably necessary to convert the building, to Use Class C3 (dwelling houses)

How big can you go?

In recent years, the number of homes you can build under Class Q has increased. You can develop up to five ‘small’ dwellings (100sqm or less each) or you can develop up to three ‘large’ dwellings (over 100sqm each) where the overall floorspace does not exceed 465sqm.  

It is also possible to ‘mix and match’, where you have a combination of larger and smaller dwellings, however no more than three can be large homes.  This means that it is possible to have one ‘large’ dwelling of 465sqm and four ‘small’ dwellings of 100sqm, for a total of 865sqm. 

So, How big can you go? A maximum number of 8 homes or 865sqm, keeping in mind the split between larger and smaller dwellings. 

A useful example to look at is the conversion of an agricultural barn into two ‘large’ dwellings and one ‘small’ dwelling which was granted prior approval in Huntingdonshire in August 2018 (LPA ref.18/01765/PMBPA).  This involved the conversion of the 416sqm barn into three new homes by retaining the existing structure but replacing the existing external panelling and installing larger windows.

What to consider when analysing Class Q opportunities

When preparing submissions under Class Q, there are a few key things to be aware of:

  • Class Q does not permit the complete demolition and rebuilding of agricultural buildings - only partial demolition.  
  • Development needs to be within the existing footprint of the building.
  • You cannot apply Class Q to each agricultural building, it is applied to each agricultural holding.
  • The Council will take into consideration the location and siting of the building e.g. is the building close to noisy and disruptive agricultural operations?
  • Design is the most subjective of all the aspects the council can consider and it is important that proposals are adequately justified in terms of how they have been designed.
  • A new requirement, as of 2020, is that proposals should provide adequate natural light in all habitable rooms of the dwellings.  This will usually require a Daylight and Sunlight Report to be undertaken.

Why is now a good time to be looking?

One of the key advantages of Class Q is that it allows the delivery of homes in the Green Belt.  Developing in the Green Belt is notoriously difficult, with tough planning hurdles to get over, particularly when agricultural buildings do not count as previously developed land. 

It also allows for homes to be built in more rural areas without having to demonstrate the sustainability of the site, i.e. access to shops and services or public transport. 

Class Q, therefore, provides a unique opportunity to deliver homes on sites which would struggle to gain planning through conventional means.

How to get started

Getting started is easy. On SearchLand you can identify every building that could be suitable for a Class Q conversion. 

We also have the ability to get the official land owner's name and address so you can begin securing these sites. Not only that but you can also send letters from the platform too - if you’re interested in how to structure your landowner letters, we’ve covered that. 

To get started, you can sign up for our free 7-day trial. We’d recommend you jump on a demo with our onboarding team so they can help get you set up with some of our additional features.

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