The permitted development right known as Class Q was introduced to England’s planning policy in 2014. It allows for ‘prior approval’ to convert agricultural buildings to change their use, such as converting a barn into a residential home.
If the building meets the criteria of the policy, Class Q can be used in place of the full planning application process, which means that it may offer a more straightforward route for those looking to build a home in the countryside or in a conservation area.
Here’s an overview of Class Q and what it means for your barn conversion.
Class Q restrictions
There are several important restrictions that are taken into consideration when determining whether a building is eligible under Class Q.
The following is a simplified overview of these restrictions to give you an idea of what to expect.
The building must have been used for agricultural purposes on March 20th 2013, or proof must be given that it was in use prior to this date, but not since. If the building was built or brought into use after this date, it must have been in agricultural use for 10 years.
An agricultural tenancy of the site cannot have been terminated within 1 year of the prior approval application, and for the purpose of Class Q, unless there is prior agreement between landlord and tenant that the site is no longer required for agricultural use.
You can build up to three larger dwellings (over 100 sqm each), or up to five smaller dwellings (up to 100 sqm each).
However, the total floorspace of the larger building(s) cannot exceed 465 sqm. The maximum floorspace you can create is therefore 865 sqm, by building one large dwelling and four small dwellings, each at the largest permitted size.
Partial demolition may be permitted, although buildings cannot be extended in any way. Internal conversion is permitted and may include the addition of an independent first-floor mezzanine.
Structural works designed to allow the building to function as a house are permitted, such as installing or replacing windows, doors, roofs or exterior walls. However, the building must be structurally capable of functioning as a residence without structural additions or reinforcements. The replacement or installation of services such as electricity, gas, water and drainage are also permitted.
How to apply for Class Q
If your barn meets the criteria, you’ll need to submit a prior approval application before going ahead with any conversion work. There are two application options under Class Q.
The first option pertains to changing the use of the building from agricultural use to residential use as a dwellinghouse. The second option includes the development as well as any building operations necessary to convert the building into a Class C3 dwellinghouse. Generally speaking, you should use the second option for your application, unless you’re planning to only convert the interior of the barn without any external renovations.
You should receive a decision on your application within 56 days, which is roughly in line with the typical wait for planning permission.
Need help with a Class Q conversion?
If you’re planning a Class Q barn conversion and you’d like some support from an experienced architect, get in touch with Design Haus.
Whether you’re unsure about the eligibility of your property, you need help with the application process, or you’re looking for a complete architectural design service, we’re here to help.