New agricultural property law to help combat the housing crisis

The law around development rights, especially concerning the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential homes, is changing and new amendments are coming into force today to help battle the housing crisis. However, Shruti Trivedi, partner and head of planning at Roythornes Solicitors, questions what and how much is actually changing.

It will not be the first time, and undoubtedly not the last, that permitted development rights are offered by the Government as one of the measures allowing a quick and ready solution to the ongoing issues we face with housing in the country.

In March 2018, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced further changes to the permitted development regime for agricultural buildings. These changes, outlined by Dominic Rabb, minister of state for housing, are the government’s proposal for providing, “more options to convert agricultural buildings into family homes to better meet local housing needs”.

Existing permitted development rights, which includes allowing the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential homes, currently permits a maximum of three properties to be built without express planning permission.

This limit is intended to be increased to a maximum of five new homes converted from existing agricultural farm buildings. There will be a corresponding increase in the qualifying size of the residential homes permitted. The gist of the new changes will allow for:

  • up to three larger homes with a maximum area of 465 square metres
  • up to five (smaller) homes of up to 100 square metres each
  • a mix of both of the above but up to a maximum of five homes; within that no more than three homes are to be in excess of 465 square metres each

It is safe to say that a significant number of new homes are already created each year through the conversion of agricultural buildings. However, these new changes are expected to boost both the number of conversions even further as well as the overall national housing supply.

There are also a couple of other changes as part of the amendment. Firstly, property owners who may benefit from the change of use in buildings used for storage and distribution to residential use has been extended until June 2019.

Secondly, there has been an increase in the size of new agricultural buildings proposed – this will see an increase from 465 to 1,000 square metres. This increase will support farmers who wish to adopt the latest innovation in modern farming practices.

All these new regulations and updates are coming into force today (6 April 2018) however it should be noted that there is a caveat placed upon these new updates. Tight restrictions have been put in place prior to planning approval so it remains to be seen how much impact this legislation will towards solving the UK housing crisis.

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.