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21/05/2024

New Laws Allow Farmers to Convert Buildings Into Homes And Shops

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New planning laws are set to benefit farmers by allowing the conversion of unused buildings into new homes, gyms and farm shops without having to submit a planning application.

The major changes provide farmers across England with greater freedom to diversify and grow their businesses without the need to spend time and money on planning applications. They can now convert agricultural buildings and land into lucrative business opportunities, such as outdoor sports facilities, larger farm shops, farm training centres and housing, thanks to the new permitted development rights effective from today 21 May 2024.

Minister for Housing, Planning and Building Safety Lee Rowley stated: "Farmers are the lifeblood of communities, and these changes give them the freedom to grow their businesses, and plan for their futures. This is all part of our Long-term Plan for Housing to deliver more homes for rural communities and reform the planning system, removing unnecessary barriers to development."

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Farming Minister Mark Spencer said: "I am extremely pleased to support our farmers and provide them the freedom to decide the best uses for buildings on their land, without needless bureaucracy holding them back.

"We are listening to farmers and putting them at the heart of future development of our rural areas. Helping farmers secure their businesses and get on with the important job of producing food is our top priority."

Permitted development rights provide more freedoms to develop without applying for planning permission.

The Government is extending these rights to give farmers greater freedoms to diversify and convert agricultural buildings to commercial uses, as well as up to 10 homes, without needing to submit a planning application. These rules are subject to space and natural light conditions, to ensure homes are suitable. This will help turbocharge rural housing development, with just 5,000 homes delivered on farming land since April 2014.

The changes will:

•Double the amount of floorspace that can change from agricultural to ‘flexible commercial use’ from 500 square metres to 1,000 square metres.

•Increase the size of new buildings or extensions that can be built on farms over 5 hectares from 1,000 square metres to 1,500 square metres.

•For smaller farms increase the size of such development from 1,000 square metres to 1,250 square metres.

•Double the number of homes that can be delivered through the conversion of agricultural buildings from five to 10.

•Protect nationally important archaeological sites (scheduled monuments) by removing the ability for extensions to be built and new buildings erected in the vicinity.

The amendments deliver on one of the pledges made by the Prime Minister at the Farm to Fork Summit in May last year, to cut red tape and streamline the planning system for farmers, as well as support the wider rural economy.

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