Realising the value in agricultural buildings

on Sunday, 10 October 2021.

Have you got a disused or redundant barn or cattle shed on your land?

Do you dream of maximising its value? Replacing it with something sustainable, cost-effective, useful, attractive, and more in keeping with the surroundings?

Just because you’re in the countryside, it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be denied planning permission to demolish and build a high-quality dwelling in its place.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say, we’ve had lots and lots of planning permission successes which demonstrate the opposite to be true.

Value in agricultural buildings


Here at Atlas, we’re on a mission to go one step further when it comes to obtaining planning consent.

Future-proofing the sustainability, value and visual appeal of new residential dwellings on the land. Dwellings that reflect the rural environs and provide significant landscape and ecological enhancements. Enabling landowners and farmers to maximise the potential value of their buildings.

Be it house, office, holiday let or farm shop.

“Atlas did a stellar job. I was surprised to get PP first go, especially given it's a large building in an AONB and I expected problems. Atlas understand the art of the possible and guided us through.”


Before we approach planners, we build the case for demolishing disused or redundant agricultural buildings and replacing with new. Not limiting our clients to the comprises, costs and limitations that come with converting uninspiring barns and cattle sheds.


We see it all the time. Unsightly cattle sheds or poorly converted barns in the countryside, where planning policies typically don’t allow a new home to be built. However, the reality is, lots benefit from the Permitted Development Right, Class Q, which allows them to convert agricultural buildings into residential.

We’ll tell you more about the ins and outs of Class Q another time, but for now all you need to know is you don’t always have to live with the limitations of an ugly, large, converted “eyesore” on the land.

If you go one step further, you can end up with something really special and truly unique. A beautiful, carbon-neutral building that sits well in the landscape and offers you much better long-term value.

Barn to potential home


We build a sound and watertight case, so that planners have to assess “which is better?” - low-quality conversion or high-quality, energy-efficient new build?

Either way there’s still going to be a new house on the land, but so often the case for the latter is so well evidenced it outweighs existing policy restrictions.

Which would you want? Whichever offers better value, right?

Do you see a family home too


One such client springs to mind. They approached us, having bought agricultural land with two barns – already with planning permission to convert.

Keen to maximise their return on investment, it became clear big compromises were being made. Barn conversion costs were high, and the predicted value of the proposed dwellings would be limited by poor outlooks, layouts, and gardens. Client agreed, it wasn’t looking like a great return.

We know from previous court cases and appeal decisions, that although planning applications for new houses on agricultural land are typically refused, existing site permissions represent a fallback, so the principle of new rather than converted is acceptable to planners - subject to material considerations. Despite Council’s initial concerns, our arguments were accepted, and the planning application approved.

And with a Listed Building adjacent, we even advised on the design and positioning of the proposed development so as not to ruffle the Conservation Officer’s feathers!

Our client’s now reaping the rewards of two high-quality dwellings on former agricultural land.

Think of the VAT savings too - new builds are zero rated, whereas you pay 20% VAT on a conversion!

Barn plots

If you’ve got a building on your land which isn’t earning it’s keep, but you dream of what it could become, contact us today, we’ll organise an initial consultation and pull together a planning strategy for you, quoting a fixed fee for our services from beginning to end.

In the meantime, come and see us at The Farm Business Innovation Show (10/11 November 21) at Birmingham’s NEC next month. We’re there to help farmers find out how they can get better, long-term value from the buildings they’ve inherited - but not currently earning - on their land!

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