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But planning authorities covering some of our more rural areas seem far more reluctant to approve schemes to bring agricultural premises back in to use.

Derelict warehouses and office blocks are being snapped up every week for conversion to residential or student accommodation in many of our towns and cities.

Although we would naturally expect the pace of change to be slower in the rural areas there seems to be a marked reluctance to approve schemes brought forward under permitted development rights out in the country.

The problem is particularly apparent on barn conversions, with some authorities reported to be rejecting 100 per cent of the schemes brought forward while others are less negative.

The lack of a co-ordinated approach begs the question as to why no guidance has been given by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

However, this has been answered by the chief planner, Steve Quartermain, who recently refused requests for guidance on the basis that the market should be allowed to find its own level.

In the event that we see a change of government, Labour are steadfastly “pro town”, so, it is a strong possibility that the legislation will be withdrawn before the year is out.

Landowners with redundant agricultural buildings had imagined the changes would help them maximise opportunities to create additional homes to help meet demand for housing in rural areas. In many areas this is clearly not the case.

All landowners with opportunities to develop agricultural buildings must badger their local MP to put pressure on DCLG to produce some form of guidance.

Without it, the planning authorities will continue to work against the clear thrust of the legislation, which was to help kick start the rural economy.

Please call Conolly McCausland at the Bruton Knowles Taunton office on 01823 924351 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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