New planning rules come into force

From today (21st May), changes to planning rules make it easier to convert unused farm buildings into new homes, farm shops and gyms, Defra has announced.

farm shop sign
Changes to permitted development rights make it easier for farmers to convert unused buildings into farm shops, Defra says. Photo: Unsplash

Farmers in England will have greater freedom to diversify their businesses by converting unused buildings, without submitting a planning application.

The government has extended permitted development rights (PDR) from today, meaning farmers can convert agricultural buildings for commercial uses, or up to 10 homes, without planning permission.

This means farmers can now convert agricultural buildings and land into outdoor sports facilities, larger farm shops and farm training centres, as well as housing.

These rules are subject to space and natural light conditions, to ensure homes are suitable. 

The new rules at a glance:

  • The amount of floorspace that can change from agricultural to ‘flexible commercial use’ has been doubled from 500 square metres to 1,000 square metres
  • The size of new buildings or extensions that can be built on farms over 5ha has been increased from 1,000 square metres to 1,500 square metres
  • For smaller farms, the size of such development has increased from 1,000 square metres to 1,250 square metres
  • The number of homes that can be delivered through the conversion of agricultural buildings has increased from five to 10.
  • Nationally important archaeological sites (scheduled monuments) have been protected by removing the ability for extensions to be built and new buildings erected in the vicinity.

Lifeblood of communities

Lee Rowley, the minister for housing, planning and building safety, said:

“Farmers are the lifeblood of communities, and these changes give them the freedom to grow their businesses, and plan for their futures.

“This is all part of our Long-term Plan for Housing to deliver more homes for rural communities and reform the planning system, removing unnecessary barriers to development.”

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Farming minister Mark Spencer added: “I am extremely pleased to support our farmers and provide them the freedom to decide the best uses for buildings on their land, without needless bureaucracy holding them back.  

“We are listening to farmers and putting them at the heart of future development of our rural areas. 

“Helping farmers secure their businesses and get on with the important job of producing food is our top priority.”

Read more diversification news.

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