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How to Recreate your Barn


How to Recreate your Barn

Have you just got your hands on a run-down barn or an empty agricultural building? Looking to convert it into a residential space? Then you might want to take a look at your Permitted Development Rights. In particular, you might want to take a look at Class Q of these rights. Class Q states that you do not need any planning to convert agricultural buildings into residential space. This also counts for any land you have either. So, in theory, you can go wild, right? Well, yes and no. Let’s take a look.

Class Q came into effect in April of 2018. The aim was to fix a number of issues that had hindered landowners from undergoing any form of building on their property. These changes might have been brought in to address the very issues that prevented you from building before this date so you might want to have another go.

An example of the barriers landowners used to face were issues relating to the sustainability of the location. In other words, keeping a local theme going. Now, with Class Q in place, the law now recognizes that farmland is not going to be near areas that have this as a concern, therefore making it easier to build. The policy now aims to encourage Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to consider how sensible and feasible a project is.

Internal works were also an issue for landowners. Previously buildings had to have ‘reasonable building operations’ which could cause some confusion as to what exactly was needed.

Under the new guidance: ‘Internal works are not generally development. For the building to function as a dwelling it may be appropriate to undertake internal structural works, including to allow for a floor, the insertion of a mezzanine or upper floors within the overall residential floor space permitted, or internal walls, which are not prohibited by Class Q’.


Here are some conditions of Class Q:

  • The building(s) must have been solely used for agricultural purposes on 20 March 2013; or if after this date then solely used as an agricultural building for 10 years before the date the development begins
  • The building(s) can’t be in a National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Conservation Areas, World Heritage Sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest or listed
  • The building(s) can be converted into up to three large homes within a maximum of 465m² (previously 450m²)
  • Or up to five smaller homes of 100m² each
  • Or a combination of both to a maximum of three large homes and no more than five homes in total (previously only three)
  • The external dimensions of the development cannot extend beyond the existing building(s)


It is worth noting that although *Class Q does not require planning permission, this is somewhat arbitrary as it requires Prior Notification. This means your application must be submitted to the LPA who will determine if prior approval is needed in relation to:

  • Transport and Highways
  • Noise impact
  • Contamination risk
  • Flood risk
  • Location (if it is impractical or undesirable for the building to be converted)
  • Design and external appearance