For many years we have been approached by clients who have a dream to build or convert their own property in a rural setting but need our help to find the right plot. Barn conversions have been around for many years but in many locations the availability of such property has reduced and prices have often become very high. As increasingly popular route to what is often a more contemporary design solution (see images below) is via Class Q conversions but many people are not aware of this option.
What Is A Class Q Conversion?
Class Q permitted development legislation allows, under certain circumstances, for the conversion of agricultural buildings to dwellings without planning permission. Originally introduced in 2014 it allowed the conversion of agricultural buildings into up to 3 dwellings on an agricultural unit if the total floor space did not exceed 450 square metres /4,843 square foot. There have since been updates in terms of size but the full requirements are set out in the The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2017.
In simple terms, it can enable an agricultural building which existed before March 2013 to be converted to a dwelling.
The key is that the proposed change must amount to a “conversion” rather than a “rebuild” subject to certain restrictions including size for example. However, the potential increase in value from such a change can clearly be substantial. Open sided barns do not often meet the criteria, however, barns with three or more sides enclosed should be acceptable for conversion if enough of the original building is retained and the external walls do not extend beyond the original footprint of the building.
As with many pieces of new legislation different local authorities do have different policies and other considerations such as suitable access arrangements still apply. Similarly, plots which are on “Article 2(3) land” including National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Conservation Areas or a World Heritage Site, would not be permitted. We would always recommend taking advice from a local planning professional before proceeding with a purchase.
There is no doubt however that Class Q barn conversions can offer an amazing opportunity to create very modern exciting and spacious and contemporary designs as they offer a blank canvas of potential and often stand in the most beautiful locations.
Is Class Q Right For Me?
If you come across such an opportunity it is very important to take advice on the price being sought by the landowner. Does the price, plus the cost of development deliver a potential end value that is realistic? As a general guide consider the price of the plot/barn to represent around 35-40% of the potential end value, for example if the barn is on the market at £500k, is it realistic to expect the finished barn to be worth £1.3m- £1.4m? If that is too high for the local market then the asking price for the barn is too probably high.
As planning rules tighten in the green belt, Class Q could be one route to building your own dream home in the country.
If you would like to talk to one of our property finders about how we could help you find a plot for your own development and support you through the process, please to our contact page or Telephone 0330 223 6339.