Planning Permission for Barn Conversions

The planning permission requirements for converting a barn into a house or dwelling will vary depending on the location of the barn, its size, and its current use. However, in most cases, you will not need to apply for full planning permission if you are converting a barn under permitted development rights.

Permitted development rights allow you to carry out certain types of development without the need for planning permission. In the case of barn conversions, Class Q of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development Order) allows you to convert a barn into a dwelling without the need for full planning permission, provided that the barn meets specific criteria. Class Q general development orders allow up to five dwellings and up to 865 square metres of floor space to be converted.

planning permission for barn

The criteria for Class Q permitted development include:

  • The barn must be located on agricultural land.
  • The barn must have been used as an agricultural building since March 2013 and for at least two years prior to the date of conversion.
  • The barn must not be listed or in a conservation area.
  • The conversion must not result in the loss of more than half of the original agricultural floor space.
  • The conversion must not increase the barn’s height by more than 2 metres.

If your barn meets all of these criteria, you will not need to apply for full planning permission to convert it into a house. However, you must still submit a prior notification to your local planning authority. This will allow them to raise any objections to the proposed development before proceeding.

If your barn does not meet the criteria for Class Q permitted development, you will need to apply for full planning permission to convert it into a house. This process can be more complex and time-consuming, so it is essential to carefully consider your options before you start.

When do you need planning permission?

In the UK, the need for planning permission for barns and farm buildings depends on various factors, including the proposed barn project’s location, size, and specific circumstances. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Conversion of Existing Barns: If you plan to convert an existing agricultural building, such as a barn, into a residential dwelling or a different use, you will likely need planning permission. Permitted development rights that allow certain conversions without planning permission may apply, but these rights have specific limitations and conditions, so it’s essential to check with your local planning authority.
  • New Barn Construction: Constructing a new barn usually requires planning permission. New buildings are subject to more stringent regulations, and the local planning authority will assess the proposed development based on its impact on the landscape, neighbouring properties, and the environment.
  • Agricultural Buildings: In some cases, agricultural buildings may have permitted development rights, allowing certain types of development or changes without the need for planning permission. However, these rights have limitations and conditions, and it’s crucial to review them carefully or consult with the local planning authority to determine if your barn project falls within these rights.

It’s important to note that planning and building regulations vary between regions and local planning authorities. Some land and buildings, such as conservation areas, listed buildings, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), or National Parks, may have stricter requirements to preserve the character and appearance of the area or building. Additionally, any proposed development on designated land or protected sites, such as green belts or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), may require more scrutiny.

How to obtain planning permission

Obtaining planning permission in the UK involves a structured process. Here are the general steps to follow:

  • Determine the Need: Determine whether your proposed project requires planning permission. Some smaller alterations or changes may fall under permitted development rights and not require formal planning permission. You can check your project’s specific permitted development rights on the UK government’s Planning Portal website or consult with your local planning authority.
  • Research Local Policies: Research the local planning policies and regulations that apply to your area. Each local planning authority has its own development plan, which sets out guidelines for guiding development.
  • Pre-application Consultation: Engage in a pre-application consultation with your local planning authority. This step is optional but highly recommended.
  • Prepare the Application: Prepare a comprehensive planning application that includes all the necessary documents and forms. Typical requirements include an application form, site plans, architectural drawings, elevations, and any additional documents specific to your project.
  • Submit the Application: Submit your planning application to the local planning authority. You may need to pay a fee at this stage. Once submitted, the local planning authority will assign a reference number and begin the assessment process.
  • Application Assessment: The local planning authority will assess your application, considering factors such as the impact on the surrounding area, visual appearance, access, and any objections from neighbours or stakeholders. If necessary, they may also consult with other departments, such as environmental agencies or highway authorities.
  • Public Consultation: Depending on the nature and scale of your project, the local planning authority may require a public consultation period. They will inform neighbours and other interested parties about your proposal and provide an opportunity for them to submit comments or objections.
  • Decision: The local planning authority will decide on your application within a specified timeframe, typically around eight weeks for most applications. The decision can be approval, conditional approval (with specific requirements or conditions), or refusal.

Ecological constraints surrounding planning permission

Ecological constraints are an important consideration for planning rules in the UK. Local planning authorities assess the potential impacts of proposed developments on the natural environment and protected species.

The presence of protected species, such as bats, birds, reptiles, amphibians, or great crested newts, can impact planning permission. If your project could affect habitats or species protected by law, you may need to conduct ecological surveys to assess their presence and propose mitigation measures to minimize harm.

Development proposals must also consider the impact on habitats and biodiversity. This includes protected habitats like ancient woodlands, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), or designated nature reserves.

Additionally, large-scale or environmentally sensitive developments may require an Environmental Impact Assessment. An EIA assesses potential ecological impacts on habitats, protected species, and the overall environment. The EIA report informs the planning decision and may require mitigation measures or alternative site options to be considered.

Development near watercourses or flood risk areas must consider the impact on water quality, hydrology, and flood risk. Local planning authorities often require assessments and flood mitigation measures to safeguard ecosystems and prevent adverse effects on habitats and species.

How can Collington Winter assist?

Our team at Collington Winter are able to assist clients with planning permission for a barn by carrying out any of the necessary ecological surveys or assessments that may be needed.

Whether you are looking to erect, extend or alter a building and need ecological advice, our consultants are happy to assist.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our environmental consultancy today for more information at or call the team on 01204 939 608.

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