Relaxation of permitted development rights

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By Laura Maden

Solicitor Director

Following the relaxation of permitted development rights back in 2018 some land owners may be intrigued by the development laws surrounding Class Q premises.

Planning permission is usually required to change the use of a building from one class to another. However, permitted development allows for specified development to be undertaken without the planning requirements in certain scenarios.

For example, an agricultural building can be converted into residential premises without having to obtain planning permission provided certain criteria are met. This is referred to as a Class Q development.

Buildings that could be converted under this Class Q heading will essentially include agricultural buildings used for the purposes of a trade or business. This does not however include outbuildings in an agricultural setting that have been constructed for the landowner’s hobbies. For example, a stable block would not fit the bill as it was not constructed for trade or business associated with agriculture.

Equally, if a building was historically used for agricultural purposes but has since become redundant, this may not be enough to enable the owner to qualify a full Class Q development. You may need to prove when the property was last used for agricultural purposes and if this was before March 2013, the district council does not need to agree to the Class Q development.

Therefore, any proposed development under Class Q does still need to be looked at in detail. It is especially relevant when dealing with premises that are or have recently been used as part of a tenancy. For example, a landlord cannot serve a notice to quit on his tenant with the primary intention of then converting an agricultural building to residential use under Class Q.

They would need to wait more than a year before an application could be made unless there is a specific agreement between the landlord and the tenant confirming that this particular area of the site is no longer used for agricultural purposes.

Further, there are a number of other restrictions that will need to be considered. For example, if the premises are within a conservation area, is a listed building, or is within a site of special scientific interest or area of outstanding natural beauty, this may impact on whether Class Q can be achieved.

The Government has gone some way to relax the permitted development rules and the 2018 change, which permitted larger premises to be converted, has certainly made permitted development more intriguing for some land owners and developers but careful consideration is still needed when looking at converting or investing in premises under Class Q.

For further information we recommend that you discuss Class Q provisions with your land agents and planning consultants.

  • Laura Maden is a solicitor with Chubb Bulleid, which has offices in Wells, Street and Somerton. Phone 01749 836100.