Ask the Architect – What is Class Q?

Jonathan Turvey. Director at WDA

Architect Jonathan Turvey updates us on what we need to know about recent developments in ‘Class Q – Change of use from Agriculture to Residential’.

In early 2018, the Government released The Town and Country Planning General Permitted Development Order (2018) as an amendment to the 2015 Order in relation to Class Q conversions from Agricultural Buildings to Dwelling Houses.

visual of class q barn conversion. Timber clad building

This legislation allowed the conversion of agricultural buildings up to 450sqm of floor space.  This has now been increased to 465sqm, bringing it in line with agricultural permitted development for new agricultural buildings.

Black Class Q dutch barn conversion

Under the new guidelines, it is now possible to provide up to 5 new dwellings on a single agricultural unit and the amended right under Class Q allows for the following in one or more agricultural buildings;

  • Up to 3 larger dwellinghouses with a maximum cumulative total residential floor space of 465sqm, or
  • Up to 5 smaller dwellinghouses each no larger than 100sqm of residential floor space, or
  • A mix of larger and smaller dwellinghouses within a total of no more than 5 dwellinghouses, of which no more than 3 may be larger dwellinghouses with a maximum cumulative total of 465sqm residential floor space
Class Q Converted barn into housing in farm location

Much has been written about converting up to 865sqm residential floor space, but the legislation is clear that a ‘maximum cumulative total of 465 square metres residential floor space’ may be created.

These rights are not applicable to Listed Buildings, buildings within a Conservation Area, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). All other constraints remain such as not being able to extend the building at any point, but innovative solutions such as forming recesses into the existing building might accommodate porches, covered walkways.

The rewording of Paragraph 105 of the National Planning Policy Guidance also clarified that whilst the existing building for conversion must be capable of being modified, there is no longer a specific requirement for the building to be structurally capable of accepting any new loading.  Furthermore, any internal works, such as the insertion of a mezzanine floor or new structural elements, does not constitute development and may not be used as a reason for refusal.

Each building and site presents its own collection of unique challenges and opportunities so if you have agricultural buildings that might meet the above criteria and you are interested in reviewing new opportunities, please call us to arrange a no obligation discussion.

Barn conversion with seating on decking
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