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Corner joint in timber framed house

Class Q Permitted Development Rights

What do we mean by Class Q permitted development rights?

An exciting topic in the architectural and surveying world! But in layman’s terms, what does this classification actually mean – and what does it mean for potential developers?

Class Q classification came into force circa 2014 and essentially it’s the granting of permission for the change of use of agricultural buildings. Previously, barn conversions have been predominantly of stone brick or traditional timber construction and, often, part of a traditional farm court yard or standalone.

So what’s changed?

Now we can put framed, masonry or even poled buildings forward for consideration, subject to certain criteria. Exemptions include areas of outstanding natural beauty, listed buildings and where you are trying to create more than 450 square metres of floor space for one unit.

They first need to be assessed structurally by a surveying professional to ensure they can be converted. It’s only once the existing structure has been assessed to be strong enough to take the loading which comes with external works that they would be considered for the permitted development right.

The subsequent usage of the building may be residential or educational, with size thresholds, limitations and conditions pertinent to each particular case.

Nick describes a recent example:

“We have just received approval on a prior notification to convert a large seven bay agricultural barn into three new dwellings on a farm in Wiltshire.

“Part of the process involves a structural assessment of the existing structure”

The scheme has been based around an existing substantial steel and concrete portal framed barn which was partially clad with open timber boarding under a concrete profiled roof, and had a disused silage clamp to one side. The proposal is within the 450m² maximum floor area requirement, with single storey accommodation split between two levels, to take account of the site.  The silage clamp has been removed and the original ground levels restored to invite the countryside up close to the new dwellings.  Part of the process involves a structural assessment of the existing structure to state whether it is indeed capable of being re-used within a conversion.

We’ve worked closely in conjunction with a planning consultant on the project and have now been granted permission for a Class Q application which is great news!

“It is a great step forward to now not be limited to stone or brick structures”

This has been a rewarding project to work on because my long term interest in agriculture has given me a particular interest in the conversion of modern barns.  From a design and structural perspective the buildings normally offer a clean frame layout and a choice of interesting materials. This enables us to come up with generous open plan living spaces combined with large openings, whilst still retaining their barn origin.”

For more information and advice on Class Q development opportunities please contact us.

You can also check out the government’s official guidance here.