Updated Class Q Planning Guidance

28th February, 2018 by Acorus in General

Changing the use of agricultural buildings in the countryside to residential was given a considerable boost following the introduction of class MB and then its replacement under Class Q. However the rules under both these schemes have led to various interpretations across the country. One of the main debating areas has been the structural suitability and the introduction of new structural elements. This has led to applications being rejected even where new floors were required or the works were internal.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government have recently amended guidance on Permitted Development for the Change of Use of Agricultural buildings to dwellings in relation to what works are permitted under the Class Q.

Previously the Government confirmed that the building must be structurally strong enough to take the loading which comes with the external works, and therefore construction of new structural elements is unlikely to be accepted.  This guidance has now been reworded to state that:

‘It is not the intention of the permitted development right to allow rebuilding work which would go beyond what is reasonably necessary for the conversion of the building to residential use. Therefore it is only where the existing building is already suitable for conversion to residential use that the building would be considered to have the permitted development right’.

The Guidance remains concise and not necessarily comprehensive, with reference made to a high court decision, ‘The Hibbit Case’, which discussed the difference between conversions and rebuilding.

Of particular interest is the addition of comment on internal works.  The guidance now confirms that ‘internal works are not generally development. For the building to function as a dwelling it may be appropriate to undertake internal structural works, including to allow for a floor, the insertion of a mezzanine or upper floors within the overall residential floor space permitted, or internal walls, which are not prohibited by Class Q’.  This will now hopefully resolves some of the underlying issues that have been identified in relation to Class Q development in some Authority areas.

There is now opportunity for some of those that have been refused to reconsider their proposals in light of this guidance. For more information please contact your local Acorus office.

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