Concern over unsuitable barn conversions.

Class ‘Q’ Permitted Development

In 2014 an amendment was quietly made to rural planning rules by the Government to allow old unused barns on farms to be converted to dwellings.

Whilst historically there has always been a steady trickle of conversions of old stone and slate barns and outbuildings made redundant by modern steel and corrugated barns, this new Amendment allows fast track planning permission to convert even ‘modern’ style steel barns “provided it can be demonstrated they were redundant and unused by March 2013”. Each barn may contain up to 3 dwellings.

There is a typical conversion under way near to the entrance to Lydford Forest. WDBC Planning 0129/17/PDM. Have a look, draw your own conclusions.

Applications in West Devon have been running at several per month since 2014, or some 50 per year. Thus, potentially some 600 new dwellings in West Devon alone. This is in addition to the additional housing being placed in every village under the new County Development Plan.

Admittedly not all applications are being granted. There are some stringent Building Control hoops to jump through. However, MABRAKE is concerned that this somewhat random housing development, by its very nature, will cause additional strain to the local infrastructure.

Fortunately, Class ‘Q’ is not permitted in ANOB areas. However, Class PA, (B1C, to C3), another quiet change, does allow conversion of redundant ‘workshops’ and ‘Light Industrial Units’ within AONB’s and National Parks – an additional concern for the same reasons.

Neither process considers the strain on hospitals, surgeries, schools, lanes, roads, water, drainage etc. etc., unlike more regular estate developments in say, Lamerton, or Milton Abbot which must consider these elements.

These changes to the Planning Laws have been quietly slipped in, and we cannot do much except be vigilant, and ensure that conversions are sensitive to all these considerations.

Please let us know if you have spotted such a development, and why you feel it may be inappropriate, or acceptable. Is this a problem in our rural area? What do you think?

Chris Burchell.



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