Conversion of Agricultural Barn into New Dwelling

Appeal costs returned to client following case success

Conversion of Agricultural Barn

The Brief

Our clients approached us seeking planning permission for an additional dwelling on their plot. They lived in the open countryside, where planning policy restricts new residential development and therefore, the process seemed difficult.

The clients, fortunately, had planning permission to convert one of their agricultural barns into a new dwelling under the provisions Article 3 and Schedule 2, Part 3, Class Q of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order. However, the approved conversion would have provided them with a much smaller house than they desired. We were therefore instructed to help gain permission for a new dwelling at the site, with a larger footprint than the current agricultural barn.

Our Solution

We advised the clients that the extant consent to convert the barn to a new dwelling was extremely helpful in the strategy of achieving a larger home on the site since new houses in this location were not normally allowed. We also informed them that they didn’t have to implement the existing permission and convert the barn before they put in planning for its replacement. This was because the approved scheme represented a genuine fallback position - the extant permission meant that if planning permission was not granted, there is a realistic prospect of a new house being in this countryside location in any case.

Since the clients wanted a much larger dwelling than the conversion would have allowed for, we went to the site to examine its potential and any strategies moving forward. On site, we saw that there were three additional poultry sheds, one of which was also structurally capable of being converted into a dwelling. Having undertaken a comprehensive check, we recommended that a further application under the provisions of Article 3 and Schedule 2, Part 3, Class Q of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order, was submitted to convert this barn into an additional residential dwelling. If approved, the site would not only benefit from 2 dwellings but also more residential floor space, which we could use in the arguments in favour of their dream home.

The client followed our advice and we prepared a statement outlining why the agricultural barn met the provisions of the GDPO and submitted a further Prior Approval on their behalf. The LPA agreed with our assessment and the application was subsequently granted.

Since two dwellings could be achieved on site with the extant permissions gained, we proceeded to submit an application that sought planning permission for the demolition of all barns and the erection of a larger, high-quality single storey dwelling. Rather than the constrained conversions, this dwelling met all the client’s dreams and wishes.

However, although no objections were received during the application process, the Council failed to carefully consider the fallback position and the relevant Case Law that surrounds it. The Council took the view that the permissions for the conversions did not justify approval of a new dwelling in the countryside. They asserted that the applications were specific to the barns and would be extinguished once they were demolished – contrary to Case Law and precedent Appeal Decisions. The application was subsequently refused on this basis and we were then instructed to submit an Appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

Project Success

We provided a comprehensive Statement of Case which outlined why the Council were incorrect in their assessment and submitted a Costs Application on grounds of unreasonable behaviour. At Appeal, the Inspector agreed with our arguments and clarified the principle that, in considering proposals for new development, decision-makers should have regard to the fallback position of lawful development which has a real prospect of taking place in the alternative.

Despite being in the countryside where new residential development is restricted, the Inspector found that this conflict was far outweighed by the reduction in the number of dwellings and the substantial benefits that arose from the proposal including potential biodiversity, landscaping and living conditions.

The Inspector not only allowed the appeal but also awarded full costs, ruling that the Council had not followed well-established case law and had not taken into account a material planning consideration. Atlas Planning Group had clearly shown why the development should be allowed and had provided all the relevant Case Law and precedents to the Council, which they chose to ignore. Due to this, all the costs associated with the appeal will be returned to the client.