New Government proposals should make it easier to convert redundant farm buildings into residential accommodation. Planning Minister Nick Boles has announced plans to relax permitted development rights (PDR) so that agricultural buildings (and shops) of up to 150sq m (1,615sq ft) can be converted without full planning consent. However, the outbuildings must not be in conservation areas such as national parks and AONBs and local authorities will still have a say on siting, design and the impact on traffic, neighbours and the environment.

Andrew Shirley of Knight Frank says the policy should bring significant advantages. ‘Buildings that no longer fit into modern farming systems have long been an underutilized asset. Although these proposals won’t benefit every redundant barn, anything that increases the flexibility for conversion has to be welcomed.’

The CLA says the move will boost the rural economy and the NFU comments that it shows the Government trusts farmers ‘to do the right thing’. The public consultation closes on October 15 (www.gov.uk/government/consultations).

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