Rural landowners call for action over farm-building-to-home refusals

Out-Law News | 02 Dec 2014 | 5:03 pm | 1 min. read

An organisation representing rural landowners, farmers and businesses has written to housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis asking him to take action over the high proportion of refusals of applications to convert agricultural buildings to homes.

The government introduced new permitted development rights in April, allowing agricultural buildings to be converted into residential developments of three homes or fewer without the need to apply for full planning permission.

Analysis of DCLG data by Planning Magazine in October revealed that 52% of prior approval applications for the conversion of agricultural buildings to homes had been refused by councils in the second quarter of 2014, compared with only 19% of applications for the conversion of offices to homes.

In a statement released yesterday, representative body the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) claimed that "the latest statistics show that since the law changed ... only one third of applications for conversion of farm buildings to homes have been permitted". The statement said the CLA had written to Lewis raising concerns that local authorities were "ignoring the government" and demonstrating unwillingness "to engage with rural economic growth".

“The introduction of class [agricultural to residential] permitted development rights was a hard fought battle for the CLA and the government," said CLA president Henry Robinson in the statement. "The fact that local authorities are blatantly refusing to follow legislation is a scandal."

“If the government is serious about getting more underused agricultural buildings back into use and helping with our chronic housing shortage, then the planning minister must act to ensure local authorities take a genuinely constructive approach to permitted development,” said Robinson.