Barn Conversion into a dwelling
Although permitted development rights now exist for a barn conversion into a dwelling there are some limits to this and there may well be other reasons for which a planning application is necessary. These are listed below:

  •  No. of dwellings, this is restricted to maximum of 3 per Agricultural Unit under Permitted Development.
  • Amount – the agricultural unit must not exceed 450m2 to be converted under Permitted Development. You could potentially get around this by only converting part of the barn.
  •  Biodiversity – are there bats living in the barn? All barn conversions require a habitat survey to ensure that bats/owls/great crested newts are not living in or around your barn. If evidence of protected species are found, this is not necessarily the end of the development as bat boxes can be provided for example.
  •  Access – there are rules for how far you need to be able to see (called a vision splay) when exiting a driveway, this depends on the speed limit of the road and will need to be presented to the council.
  •  Materials – As most barns are in rural areas, materials and window styles are likely to be an important issue with the local council. They will ideally like to see something that represents the local vernacular. However modern contemporary conversions are also a possibility if they are respectful of the surroundings.
  • Contamination – the local authority may insist on a ground contamination survey as agricultural sites can often be contaminated.
  • Flood risk – If the development is in a flood zone or near to one a flood survey must be carried out and may affect the chances for development.
  • Amount of re-build. Some councils do not accept any re-build while others accept an entire re-build. Although you may apply and receive Prior Approval under Permitted Development, if you want to change the existing appearance of the barn by re-building any part you would need to submit some kind of planning application, potentially only ‘Operations and Demolition in association with the Prior Approval’
  • A pre-application can often be a good idea to test ideas with the council prior to submitting a full application. It is a quicker and cheaper way of exploring the potential options for development of your barn. This is entirely private and not available online so it is also useful for potential buyers to test the water.
  • The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), though generally re-using existing floor space is exempt from CIL, if you are planning any extensions or new-build you could find yourself with a charge. Further reading here

whether the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to residential use

This extract from the Permitted Development rules in 2014 has since been amended to stop councils preventing barn conversions in the open countryside. Please see my more recent blog explaining the additions to the permitted development rules in 2015. For even more information relating to barn conversions see all of our barn related blogs in one place (under barn conversions on the sidebar to the right).