Planners at Malcolm Scott Consultants have issued an update to rural businesses around changes in planning legislation that could have a positive impact on their operations.

Chris Primett, Director, said that revisions had been made to Permitted Development Rights applying to agricultural buildings, and include potential changes of use to commercial or residential properties without requiring planning permission.

While each of the three key changes are subject to caveats and would require the local planning authority to be notified prior to work being undertaken, they present farmers and other business owners with a welcome opportunity to diversify without lengthy delays awaiting formal approval.

Chris said. “The most important of these changes is a new regulation which allows a change of use of existing agricultural buildings to residential homes without the need for planning permission. This allows the creation of up to 10 houses which in total should not exceed 1,000 sq m in cumulative floor space, with no property exceeding 150 sq m of floor space.

“In addition, under the new regulations, a farm or other rural business will be able to change the use of an agricultural building to, for example, a farm shop, catering opportunity or leisure facility of up to 1,000 sq m of floorspace without the need for planning permission. This is a 100 per cent increase on the 500 sq m floor space allowed under previous legislation.

“The final revision relates to the construction of buildings for agricultural use. This is dependant on the size of the site where the development is required, but where the farm or land is greater than five hectares, a building for agricultural use of up to 1,500 sq m can be erected without permission, a 500 sq m increase on previous regulations. The size is reduced for sites of less that five hectares,” he advised.

“In all of these cases, there are specific restrictions and caveats in place, and the relevant planning authority would have to be notified before work commenced. It Is important to note that if an authority is not satisfied that the required restrictions are not being met, it can still request a formal planning application be submitted. Nonetheless, this is a huge opportunity  for landowners to capitalise on their property and diversify their operations should they wish to seek further guidance and explore their options,” he added.

For further information or advice, contact Chris on