Farmers will benefit from extended permitted development rights

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Recent changes to permitted development rights are good news for the rural economy. Julie Liddle explains why.

The government gave rural businesses and communities a welcome tonic when it announced an extension to permitted development rights in March this year.

It will give farmers even greater freedom to increase the size of some buildings and convert others into homes, without the need for full planning permission.

What the permitted development extension means

The extension of permitted development rights has increased the upper size limit of new agricultural buildings to 1,000 square meters while allowing more options to convert existing farm buildings into family homes.

Permitted development means that if your farm is five hectares or more, you have a right to erect, extend or alter a building and carry out excavations and engineering works for agricultural purposes – although you may still require approval for certain elements of the development.

The types of permitted development include temporary uses of land, agricultural buildings below a certain size, forestry buildings, caravan sites and, in some circumstances, other related buildings.

Rural prospects are brighter thanks to the changes

The government’s announcement opens up a new chapter in the success story of converting farm buildings into homes and represents a further achievement for the CLA’s campaign to ensure the policy operates in the interests of landowners and farmers.

The news was welcomed by interested bodies, who believe that permitted development illustrates how greater regulatory clarity can boost investment and create tangible benefits for the rural economy.

The increase in the size limit of farm buildings affected by permitted development rights mean farmers can respond more effectively to the commercial dynamics of modern farming and help to improve profitability. Moreover, greater ability to build much-needed homes by converting farm buildings will be a significant benefit for rural communities.

Government must ensure local planning authority cooperation

However, the government now needs to ensure the new system is taken up more widely, with council planning departments playing a full and cooperative role. We are aware of local authority resistance to the exercise of permitted development rights, notwithstanding the government’s clear policy direction.

In this respect, we welcome the ongoing commitment of interested bodies to continue working with the government and local authorities to ensure the potential of permitted development conversions is realised.