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Rural areas concern as number of barn conversions without planning rise

Rural areas have seen a spike in the number of barns and farm buildings being turned into homes. Over the past three years there has been an almost 230 per cent increase on these transformations happening, all without the need for planning permission.

Latest figures show the number of agricultural to residential conversions in England has risen from 226 to 743 in two years, mostly in rural areas.

Currently, under the permitted development right, developers are able to side-step the planning system when converting the barns, but this has sparked fears that they are missing out on essential infrastructure and the necessary building standards.

The lack of planning means locals councils cannot control how well the homes are built and whether or not they are structurally sound.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, is concerned that rural areas in particular are foregoing vital infrastructure and affordable housing that any other development would need prior to action.

The LGA have suggested using the Queen’s Speech to promote the abandoning of the permitted development right and for local communities to be given more control when it comes to new building conversions in their area.

Last year the government extended the number of homes that could be built from agricultural buildings without planning permission from three to five.

The result of this is the number or conversions more than doubling in the space of a year, from 330 to 743. 

Councils have also seen a surge in homes being created out of storage or distribution buildings, with four times as many last year as three years ago.

Councillor David Renard, the LGA’s planning spokesman, said: “We have concerns over the sharp rise in agricultural buildings being converted into homes without planning permission and the impact this is having on rural areas, given the lack of any requirement for developers to provide infrastructure or contribute to investment in local services such as roads or schools.”

“Councils, which are approving nine in 10 planning applications, are committed to building the thousands of new homes the country needs, but these have to be of high quality and with the right infrastructure in place.”

“It is taking away the voice of local residents who need to be allowed to have their say over any developments in the streets and neighbourhoods where they live.”


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