Class Q Barn conversions and full planning permission

Understanding the difference between Class Q barn conversion and when you require full planning permission.

What differentiates a Barn Conversion from a Class Q Barn Conversion? Barn conversions have been around for a long time but are still just as popular. The main reason is that they are usually in the countryside, where planning policies do not usually allow for new residential development. They can also offer large amounts of internal living space, which can be great for families.

Barn conversions provide a valuable contribution towards housing numbers in rural areas. The two most common routes to achieving them include a permitted change of use under Class Q of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) or applying for full planning permission. The following briefly explores these two options.

What is a Class Q Barn conversion?

Class Q of the GPDO allows for the change of use of an agricultural barn into residential use and building operations needed to facilitate the class Q conversion, such as new walls, roofs, windows and doors, and internal works. 

A Class Q barn conversion is conditional on the barn(s) being capable of Class Q conversion without needing significant rebuilding. Therefore, a structural report is always a must; at Atticus Planning, we advise getting this report done early to avoid potentially abortive costs. 

What are the Conditions of a Class Q Barn Conversion?

Under the Class Q regulations, you have to limit the conversion to the envelope of the existing building; no outward extensions are allowed. Some other conditions and limitations need to be adhered to, and we can advise at the outset whether your proposal will likely comply with these. 

Certain areas where Class Q permitted development rights cannot be used, such as within areas of outstanding natural beauty, World Heritage Sites and conservation areas (not exhaustive). Barns that are listed are also exempt. If you’re unsure whether your barn benefits from Class Q rights, we would happily let you know. 

What are the Advantages of applying for a Class Q Barn Conversion?

The main advantage of applying for a barn conversion under Class Q is that a local planning authority’s assessment is limited to the conditions and limitations laid out in the regulations; there is no assessment against local Class Q planning policies. 

Another advantage is that approval under Class Q can act as a stepping stone towards achieving your dream home in the countryside; it provides a fallback position and material planning consideration in the local planning authority’s assessment of an application for a new build. Class Q barns are often more modern in their construction and appearance and are not usually the type of buildings local class Q planning authorities want to see retained. A new build dwelling can offer a better scheme from a design perspective and improved living accommodation standards. In our experience, local planning authorities are generally receptive to this approach. 

Will I need Full Planning Permission for my Barn Conversion?

Rural areas across England are scattered with redundant stone, brick and timber barns, some with local or even national heritage value. Converting them into residential use can offer the opportunity to secure their restoration, renewal and long-term use. 

The conversion of Class Q barns that are locally distinctive, historical and/or of solid construction is usually supported by local planning policies and applying for full planning permission allows you to include external modifications and extensions that Class Q. does not permit, Unlike the Class Q route, there is more scope within a full planning application for creativity and innovation; whilst barn conversions are generally traditional in their appearance and extensions usually have to be modest in scale, in the correct setting, extensions can provide an injection of contemporary architecture into an otherwise traditional proposal. 


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Conclusions on Class Q Barn Conversions

As with barn conversions done under Class Q, a report confirming the structural condition of the barn will be a prerequisite for any application, in addition to a bat and barn owl survey. Other reports may be needed, and we can advise at an early stage what you would need to provide with an application.

If you have a Class Q barn you are considering converting, or you want to know the planning potential for a barn/barns on your land, please get in touch today via email or mobile.

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