Bruton Knowles say changes made by Planning Minister Nick Boles that will allow redundant or under-used agricultural buildings to be converted into homes, schools or nurseries could provide a lifeline for some landowners.
Richard Brogden, planning partner said: “There are a lot of opportunities for converting farm buildings in the South West as there are so many livestock farms and at the same time a shortage of housing. There has been too much red tape involved in getting permissions in the past and this will be a real boost for many communities.
“The planning rules have been amended quite carefully so that buildings are not demolished but are converted to keep the character of the countryside. There will also be a maximum 450 square metres of space that can be converted and a maximum of three homes created.
“In Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks the rules will remain more stringent but the Government has indicated that communities in these areas need to grow and prosper. The planning rules are complex but careful and thoughtful development is now possible.”
Julia Allen, Rural Surveyor said: “The planning rules in recent years have prevented many landowners from making the most of their assets. There are too many rural buildings that could not be converted under the former rules but these new regulations appear to apply to all farm buildings regardless of their age or how they are constructed.
“Diversification by using buildings and land more creatively has always been the lifeblood of the countryside and these changes will help rural landowners make the most of their poorly-performing assets.
“At the same time they will be making a real contribution to the national problem we have of a shortfall in housing stock. In reality every new home created from a redundant building is one less new home that has to be built on green fields.”
As well as homes special regulations have been brought in to enable conversions into facilities for children’s education in rural areas, such as nurseries and schools but Bruton Knowles warn that the interpretation of local authorities to the changes will be a key factor in whether changes are allowed.
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