01622 689700 / 01474 887688

Class Q development

If you own redundant agricultural and/or commercial buildings then there may be various options available through permitted development rights and the planning process for future uses. 

The most typical option is a residential ‘barn conversion’ of a redundant agricultural building which falls within Permitted Development -
Class Q.  This consists of pre-determined planning permission from your local authority, which is needed to convert a redundant farm building, providing it meets various conditions.

The rules under Class Q are quite limiting but do provide you with the opportunity to convert buildings (depending on their size, location and other criteria) into one to three larger homes with a combined max floorspace of 465sqm or up to five smaller homes, each less than 100 sqm. A scheme could have a mix of both three larger and two smaller homes.

Under Class Q limited building works are allowed and it can’t involve the demolition that isn’t reasonably necessary, or a rebuild and you can’t extend the footprint or the roof space of the existing building.

This type of prior approval is now increasingly being seen as the starting point for many projects, with many schemes now being refined to allow for increases to the curtilage of the building, substantial structural works or complete replacement in some instances.

These often look very different to the original scheme which was proposed.  The downside to this is that it would require follow-up planning applications which could be time consuming and costly to deal with and all of the extra development, to enable you to reach a point where you have a design that you are happy with.

There has understandably been quite a bit of interest around the region from self-builders and smaller developers to purchase these ‘oven ready’ schemes, but there can be issues around boundaries and rights of access to resolve before a sale can take place. It is worth making sure all of these legal issues are clarified before marketing a property.

Other options for the conversion of redundant agricultural buildings should not be ruled out as buildings which are updated and or converted for commercial uses could provide a reasonable annual rental yield or sale price when compared against the initial outlay for the building’s conversion into a residential property.  And, if renting them, you still get to retain control of them, especially useful if they are close to your own residential property or farm/rural business operations. It is definitely worth exploring all of the other options available before making a final decision.

It is best to take professional advice first before you embark on any scheme and to consider whether you plan to live in, sell or rent the property before any planning application or building work has taken place.

Paul Burbidge can be contacted at